A Knight's Tale Review
There is a sequence early on in A Knight’s Tale that shows great promise. The scene is a jousting tournament in fourteenth century Europe, and as the excitement of the crowd grows, the soundtrack is filled with Queen’s sonic assault of We Will Rock You, and the crowd anachronistically joins in with singing and chanting the song. However, the initial feeling that you are watching something original or special quickly vanishes.
Son of a thatcher, William (neanderthal Heath Ledger) and his two friends Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk) are aides to a famous jousting champion who has unfortunately died on the morning of a major tournament. Never to be detoured, and needing the prize money to pay for food they starve for, the three aides decide to impersonate the recently deceased Knight and set up William in his place. After winning the tournament, William convinces his two friends that they are on to a good thing and can enter other tournaments and grow richer and richer. Unfortunately, William is not a Knight, and only Knight’s can enter jousting tournaments, risking prison if caught. To complicate matters, William has fallen for beautiful Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossaman) and must hide his true origins in order to win her hand.
The fact that A Knight’s Tale uses twentieth century rock songs to score its fourteenth century medieval setting instantly reminds one of Shrek but that’s where the comparison ends. Whereas Shrek was a charming and marvellous story from beginning to end, A Knight’s Tale drags the audience through a repetitive and highly unoriginal plot that could have delivered so much more. After the flat Heartbreakers it appears that live action comedy is becoming moribund in the movies. Whereas most of the cast are excellent and have British backgrounds, the producers cop out by given us Australian Heath Ledger in the leading role, and fear not, as he does provide the obligatory dodgy accent. Ledger’s facial expressions range from happy at winning to being sad at losing, although you’d find them hard to differentiate without a trained eye in these things. Ledger lets the cast down, which is a shame given Mark Addy’s good supporting turn and Paul Bettany’s excellent comic performance as Geoffrey Chaucer. The jousting scenes are numerous throughout the film yet are both repetitive and boring and last quicker than drag-races viewed in fast forward.
Maybe the film would have been more enjoyable if it was slicker. The running time of one hundred and thirty minutes for this type of movie is a joke. It’s obvious that writer-director-producer Brian Helgeland had final cut, as no studio would have retained some of the scenes left in the movie. Aside from a co-writing credit on the fantastic L.A. Confidential for which he won an Oscar, Helgeland has had a hand in some highly unremarkable movies of the last five years, such as Payback, Conspiracy Theory, The Postman and Assasins. This is obviously one of his pet projects and on the strength of A Knight’s Tale he shouldn’t have bothered.
On the scale of things, A Knight’s Tale will probably not be the worst comedy of the summer released in our shores (Scary Movie 2 hasn’t arrived yet and I haven’t seen Rush Hour 2) but it still is a bad attempt. On the medieval aspect, you’d have more value for money paying to see Shrek again as opposed to seeing this. A Knight's Tale is just a mixture of other, better films with a tedius pace and an overlong running time. It’s likeable enough, just not enjoyable, and these days this is not good enough.