Mark Wahlberg stars as Mikael in “Arthur the King” (Photo Credit: Carlos Rodriguez/Lionsgate).

(“Arthur the King” trailer courtesy of Lionsgate Movies)

Sports stories often make for extremely inspirational films.

From “Glory Road” to “Remember the Titans,” sports movies often unleash the inner dreamer that many people have kept dormant because of the harsh realities of life.

Unfortunately, those stories become predictable and formulaic.

Initially, “Arthur the King” falls into that same trap.

But what those other sports movies do not have is Arthur, a dog whose tale is more inspirational and triumphant than all the athletes involved in “Arthur the King.”

In the movie “Arthur the King,” Mikael Lindnord (Mark Wahlberg) symbolizes the phrase all that glitters is not gold.

He has a beautiful wife.

Mikey has an adorable daughter.

He works with his father in real estate.

The former athlete has a lovely home.

But he is also noticeably miserable to put it mildly.

Mikael is that typical athlete that had all the potential in the world to become great, but because of hubris and bad decision-making finds himself contemplating what-if, even though on the outside looking in he has achieved the American dream.

Unfortunately, Mikael has never achieved his dream.

As a matter of fact, when his dreams become a nightmare, the whole world witnesses it thanks to his teammate Leo (Simu Liu) who has a massive following on social media.

While many say that it is never too late to pursue one’s dreams, sports dreams are usually reserved for the youngsters because old heads often deal with an undefeated Father Time and all the aches and pains that he punishes middle-aged people and senior citizens with.

Despite old Father Time, Mikael is determined to defeat time and he wants some of his past teammates to join him in one last adventure race so that they can finally become champions.

In “Arthur the King,” Leo eventually becomes an even bigger social media influencer complete with professional photo shoots and shoe endorsements.

Chik (Ali Suliman) is a great adventure race navigator.

Unfortunately, at his ripe old age he does not have great knees, which presents a monumental challenge in a race that covers hundreds of miles through treacherous terrain.

And in “Arthur the King,” Nathalie Emmanuel’s character is dealing with some family pain that she hopes the adventure race can ease to an extent.

Despite their past regret, determination and family motivations, sponsors do not line up at Mikael’s door to fund the team’s trip to South America for the race because of Mikael’s past failings in the most crucial times in races.

While a great talent, Mikael has the habit of becoming too confident and headstrong, not listening to his teammates or common sense, which has led to him remaining winless in the top adventure races.

In fact, the only reasons some sponsors offer to hear Mikael’s pitch for sponsorships is the fact that Leo’s huge social media following might guarantee them a massive return on their investments.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm for Mikael’s team and their chances, the adventure racer coaxes his teammates to join him in the Dominican Republic just a few days before the race begins.

That puts them at a severe disadvantage because many of their competitors have been in town getting acclimated to the conditions for at least weeks.

Fortunately, the team finds their advantage in the least likely of things.

At one rest stop during the race, Mikael gives a stray dog a meatball that none of his teammates want.

As a result, the dog somehow follows the team for miles.

While many might see the dog as a nuisance and a distraction, Mikael and the team quickly find out that the dog, that Mikael names Arthur, is not with them by coincidence, but by serendipity.

However, Arthur’s arrival on the scene is the reason why many will go, “not another one.”

A movie with a typical happy and sappy ending of the team finding inspiration in the craziest thing and then winning the ultimate prize.

Although many adventure racing fans will probably know the result, the movie then goes from typical and apathy-inducing to a potential tearjerker in which moviegoers become invested in the characters and their ultimate destination.

And while “Arthur the King” has its usual sports movie themes, the visuals are breathtaking, especially the selfie-type shots of the team members on zip lines.

Although Wahlberg and the crew are great actors, the story of “Arthur the King” does not necessarily give them the material to show off the depth of their chops until the end of the movie.

But the movie symbolizes more than just another sports movie would.

It shows the fight and grit that it takes to overcome any obstacle in life, whether it is a sporting event or life in general.

And while many might take offense to comparing humans to animals, all deal with some adversity that can make or break their entire existence.

Arthur has endured so much in his life, more than some of his new friends.

While some urge him to give up, all it sometimes takes is for someone to belief in you to make you keep going, though the road seems all uphill.

That is probably why Arthur and Mikael connect so well, even though Mikael has never had a pet in his life before.

Like Arthur, others have urged him to hang it up.

He’s too old.

His team is not healthy enough.

They have to many distractions with family struggles.

But what makes stories truly inspiring are those when the protagonist refuses to listen to the naysayers and proves them wrong in the process.

 

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Todd A. Smith
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