Tuesday, 28 April 2009

DVD Review - A Knight's Tale

A Knight's Tale is a surprising and very enjoyable medieval romp starring Heath Ledger (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Orlando Bloom at times), Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind, Master & Commander, Wimbledon), and Rufus Sewell. Ledger is a peasant who through chance becomes a knight with a particular skill at jousting, though his efforts at becoming a gentleman prove more troublesome. Sewell is the baddie knight and Ledger' rival for the hand of the object of their affection, while Bettany plays the wandering bard Chaucer, whose talent for writing is countered by his gambling habit – a habit that frequently costs him everything he has, including his clothes! (Personally I didn't want to see as much of Bettany as I did, much as I admire his acting ability…)

The film starts with a totally unexpected rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You" and it just doesn't get any saner. The storyline is pretty good although we've seen it all before (rags to rishes, live rivals, etc), and the White Knight / Black Knight act by Ledger / Sewell works well, even if it is pure pantomime! Bettany unsurprisingly comes away with the honours in the acting department. Apart from the opening scene there is a dance routine that bears comparison hilarious sequence in Buck Rogers (the film version) and a pub scene that perfectly parodies football fans at their worst. It's all very tongue in cheek and loads of fun. If you're expecting anything resembling a period drama you'll be very disappointed, but if you approach it as merely light-hearted entertainment you'll love it.

Technically there's nothing wrong with the film and the music's pretty good. The jousting scenes actually look pretty realistic and they've thankfully stuck to the authentic rules (where points are awarded for hitting the shield, helmet, etc) instead of what Hollywood normally gives us. (If you fancy a bit of jousting yourself try out Cinemaware's computer game Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown.) Overall it's a film that you'll enjoy a lot if you're in the mood for something silly.

The DVD comes with a few extras including a music video and several deleted scenes. Most of these are pretty atrocious but Chaucer's second speech is awesome and really should have been in the final cut. Nice to be able to see it regardless, though! Still, the extras on the whole don't add much to the film.

A Knight's Tale is a good laugh if you're in the right mood for it and I highly recommended. It is rather an acquired taste though so don't blame me if you don't like it!

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