A knight of entertainment: Knight’s Tale strikes true

Having been schooled at a young age on medieval fantasy films, I learned that one commonality among all films of the genre is that no two are alike. From the grandiose, pretentious Excalibur to the arty, dramatic Legend and even the nonsensical, hilarious Monty Python and the Holy Grail — there are nearly infinite interpretations on what makes a good fantasy.
Brash and exciting, quick-witted and action packed, A Knight’s Tale runs similar in nature to another cult classic, Army of Darkness. It tries with some success to marry old-world themes with modern concepts, right down to the rock anthem soundtrack. Of course Army had the unstoppable force of Bruce Campbell as its leading man. Sarcastic, sardonic and filled with his own pride, Campbell took what was an otherwise hollow script and made that film his own.
As the central character of William (a.k.a. Uirich von Lichtenstien), Heath Ledger isn’t nearly as charismatic. The story demands the kind of strength and audacity that Campbell delivered with such verve a decade ago, but instead the audience is offered up a kinder, gentler, hero. Armed with a combination of blond surfer-dude good looks and boyish naivet, Ledger waffles his way through much of the film.
Half-inflated heroics aside, Ledger’s character flaws leave the door open for several supporting cast members to do their fair share of scene-stealing; most notably the performances of Alan Tudyk and Paul Bettany. Tudyk plays Wat, a dim-witted, hot-tempered but well-meaning squire who aids in William’s rise to fame — by inflicting pain to anyone he doesn’t like. Paul Bettany is a real treat, playing none other than Geoff Chaucer himself (author of Canterbury Tales, among other things). His way with words (along with his unfortunate gambling habit) soon lands him in league with William as his herald. Before each match he spouts forth a flamboyant speech of seemingly unending rhetoric; tales and deeds of his master which, while purely fictional, add much flavour to the film.
The plot most closely follows that of westerns: good guy comes to town, gets girl, makes bad guy jealous, defeats him in heroic fashion, rides off into sunset. It even comes with cookie-cutter villains and an unremarkable love interest. There’s also treachery, subterfuge, honesty, humility, luck and even a good chuckle or two. Quite a bit to pack into an otherwise straightforward story. Then again, with a run time of over two hours, the producers have left themselves plenty of room to manoeuvre.
Of course, what really steals the show are the jousts themselves. The costumes are vibrant and well-conceived, the crowds and speeches are enthusiastic and the action is akin to dragster racing, only better. Bone-jarring hits, splintered lances and dismounted combatants — it’s repetitive, but unquestionably watchable.
For all its over-the-top contrivances, A Knight’s Tale does much to assuage fears of those (like me) who hold medieval fantasy close to their hearts. An enjoyable romp, rife with adventure, even considering the less than inspiring performances put in by several key characters. Well worth the trip.

Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>