|Star:||Heath Legder, Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Paul Bettany|
|Cert / Year:||PG - PG13 / 2001|
The knight Sir Ector is one ride away from a jousting victory, unfortunately he's dead. William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) one of his serfs comes up with the plan of riding in his place, even though only nobleman are the only ones that are allowed to compete. Much to the surprise of his two fellow serfs Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk) he wins, and so persuades them to continue the con at the next joust. They are joined by the writer Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) who invents a fictitious noble lineage for Will, and Kate (Laura Fraser) who makes him some new "sports" armour. They are now ready to defeat the evil Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), win the affections of the beautiful Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), and for Will to become the champion of the world.
I must admit this is not the film I expected. From the trailers I was expecting an Excalibur like serious tale of knights, not a sports drama crossed with a comedy. Thank heavens I was wrong. What a refreshing change this film is, after a year of films that have so far been rather disappointing. Here is something that has comedy, excitement, and a real feel good factor.
The comedy to the real key to the story, take this away and you'd have a rather run of the mill sports film. Even then story is far from original it is very similar to Up and Under, Wildcats and even Rocky. You know the story underdog takes on the big bad champion only to face adversity but eventually, well you guess. What is original is the setting, the sport being depicted, and the script. There is no doubt about it jousting is exciting and add to this a funny script with great characters and you have a winner.
The cast are not big household names. The young Heath Ledger plays will the serf who would be a noble knight (previously seen the that anti British propaganda that was The Patriot) and he does extremely well in providing a likeable lead. Mark Addy from the Full Monty as Roland gets some really good lines and provides another strong comedic role. Alan Tudyk (good English accent) and Laura Fraser are also good. Rufus Sewell proves that Dark City wasn't just a one off and he can play a bad guy just as well as a good guy. Shannyn Sossamon shows promise in her first screen role. However out of the cast it is Paul Bettany who it outstanding as Chaucer, writer, gambler, and sports promoter.
A lot has been made of the modern elements that have been woven into the medieval story, like for example the peasants singing we will rock you at the start of the film. It certainly unusual, and yes it doesn't fit in a period drama, but in a light hearted film such as this once you get used to it I think it works. What you loss in believability you more than gain in both accessibility and humour. In this respect it is very similar to Plunkett & Macleane with is to highwaymen what this is to knights.
This film may not appeal to some, its humour is very British (Strange from Brian Helgeland an American writer \ director) and the modern elements put some people off. What you get though is a strong script in both in terms of action and humour, some great performances, and a great soundtrack with tunes from the likes of Robbie Williams and Queen and David Bowie. This is a feel good movie and is provides a lot of laughs along the way. Its good to finally see a pro British film show casing a lot of home-grown talent and even better to see a film that actually impresses instead of disappoints.
This will rock you.
|2.35:1 Anamorphic||Very good day or knight.|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Impressive especially during the jousts|
|Brian Helgeland and Paul Bettany Commentary|
|A light weight HBO Making Of special|
|11 very interesting behind the scenes featurettes|
|Some quite rightly deleted scenes with Filmmaker's Intros|
|We will Rock you Robbie Williams music video|
|DVD ROM content|
|Good film, great picture, brilliant extras.|