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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.42%
Average: 13.99%
Pretty Bad: 5.7%
Total Crap: 17.1%

8 reviews, 145 user ratings

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Knight's Tale, A
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by Erik Childress

"This Year's 'Battlefield Earth' Is A Medieval Catastrophe"
1 stars

The Knight’s Code, if there ever was, has been irreparably damaged by the world of cinema in 2001. Once Upon a Time we were treated to the legends of King Arthur & Beowulf. Films like Excalibur and Ladyhawke once graced us with stories of nobility, heroism and excitement. What do we get this year? Just Visiting, the tale of a knight who time travels into the future to litter and fart, and now, A Knight’s Tale which could possibly rank as one of the most embarrassing, inept, miscast, poorly directed, shamefully written pieces of shite to ever hit movie theaters.

How else can you describe a film set in the 18th century that plays Queen’s “We Will Rock You” over the opening credits while a festival crowd keeps the 1-2-clap rhythm? Calm down, Erik, maybe it’s a satirical tale on knight tales (like A Princess Bride), so let’s give it a chance. After all there’s supposed to be some really cool jousting. OK. OK. Where were we?

There are these squires whose knight master has just died in the middle of a tournament that he was winning. Poor bastard. These squires are hungry and want peppermint cream so young William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) assumes his identity and completes the clean sweep. (Thank God the crowd didn’t pull brooms out.) But wait, he’s not of noble birth. It should be a forfeit. But William must have seen Gladiator and wisely keeps his helmet on when asked to remove it. It’s then off on the touring circuit with William and squires, the portly Roland (Mark Addy) & short-tempered Wat (Alan Tudyk).

Along the road they encounter a frightenly naked traveler who happens to call himself Geoffrey Chaucer. OK, so maybe this is a kind of Forrest Gump/O Brother Where Art Thou where our heroes encounter real-life figures from history along their journey to self-discovery. After all, Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, which begins with a story entitled “The Knight’s Tale.” Still, it’s a pretty obscure reference for a film that targets its audience by playing Bachman Turner Overdrive during the training sequence. Apparently you’re destined for a top seed in the bracket if you listen to “Taking Care of Business” and put a pole in a hole enough times. Wilt Chamberlain probably would have made one helluva jouster.

OK, so let’s get to that jousting. With only a single round under his belt and a touch of hole piercing, William is kicking tail all over the place. And there’s a reason that William is able to knock off knights one-by-one over and over again. IT’S ALWAYS THE SAME FOOTAGE!!! At least it certainly appears that way. You’ve got two knights, two horses and two giant sticks, each on separate ends of the fence. Cut to one knight. Cut to the other. One takes off, then the other charges. Zoom in. Pan out. Big stick hits knight’s chest or faceplate creating an explosion of wood not seen since the days of John Holmes. That’s it.

Over and over we see this in montages and confrontations that offer no surprises except the exorbitant freshness of a different angle. I imagine the behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD will include a segment where 25 different cameras are set up to capture the one big jousting scene they’re going to film and use 50 different times. A two-year old with poor depth perception and no film school training wouldn’t even need a shot list to edit these sequences. I just hope the two-year old who edited this film won’t have any problems getting accepted for pre-school, cause I’d hate to be robbed of years of such monotony.

So, the jousting scenes clearly suck. Thus we are robbed of the one thing that might distract us from the mediocre acting, rock soundtrack and all-over-the-map plot. I’d rather see a film version of the video game Joust. Let’s see some knights get impaled and explode when touched by the ass of a flying bird. How about that? A Knight’s Tale can provide nothing more than the bird droppings and a lobotomy.

Make no mistake about it; this film is going to end careers. Heath Ledger, who has been on the flavor of the month’s 10 most wanted list for over two years now, could just as well be playing Mel Gibson’s son again (from last year’s The Patriot), without Mel, a script or a point to work with. He better find one quick otherwise he’ll continue to be “the flavor”, but in a shoppe that serves only Chocolate and Vanilla.

Speaking of new additions to the flavor list that guys will want to lick, Shannyn Sossamon (discovered DJ’ing at a party by Gwyneth Paltrow – what a qualification for talent) plays Heath’s rent-a-princess love interest with all the depth of a supermodel unaware that she’s on downers. She’s nice to look at, but so is a bacon double burger if you’re hungry. Shannyn and Heath’s entendre-infested conversation about a “flower” has to be heard to be believed.

The only actor who resembles what this material should be offering is poor Rufus Sewell. Just watch the look on his face when a classical ballroom dance (which starts out like the dance in Top Secret) turns into a shuffle to the tune of David Bowie’s “Golden Years”. Like him, you are just waiting for Allen Funt, Dick Clark and Ed McMahon to come out from behind the curtain and admit that this is crueler than any practical joke they ever enacted.

Guiding us through this round table of insanity is writer/producer/director Brian Helgeland whose previous feature was the great Mel Gibson crime flick, Payback, and who just a few years ago was picking up an Oscar for his adaptation of L.A. Confidential. What the hell was he thinking? Who gave him the money? Was this an elaborate scheme worthy of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder? How much cash did he pocket on the front end because despite all the sets and costumes, this film still looks like it cost as much as a small slurpee minus the tax.

If you’re making a satire and winking to the audience, then you better be damn sure that you wink. For God’s sake, give me a nervous twitch, something. You can’t just switch from “The Boys Are Back In Town” to a tearful over-the-top reunion with William’s blind father. Your tone has to be consistent and I’m not just referring to the use of rock songs, but while we’re at it. It’s one thing to play post-dated song OVER the action of a historical timeline, it’s another to have the characters act to it.

Shanghai Noon used ZZ Top’s “Tush” during a barfight. Animated films like A Bug’s Life and the upcoming Shrek whose transcendence over time and place is more flexible when characters sing Monkee’s tunes or use “Teenage Wasteland” to promote it. Even Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke managed to survive a modern 80s score by the Alan Parsons Project and still seem magical. When I see Knights, Kings and battles, I want to hear a lush, sweeping, overly melodramatic score the likes of Williams, Goldsmith, Horner or Jarre. I want horns, drums and violins. Christ, I’d take a theremin over what we have to contend with in this throwback to a time when MTV actually played videos. Bring back Alan Parsons!

Which begs the question, just who is this film intended to be marketed to? The casting of Ledger tips the scale to teenage girls and their dates hoping to see some good action. (Tip for the guys – Make her pay!) The soundtrack also suggests the younger demographic…from about 15 years ago. The likes of Freddie Mercury, AC/DC & BTO are now known primarily on the classics station (my God has it been that long) by the readers of Young Miss. So is this a tip of the hat to Gen-X or Gen-not-quite-sure-Y? This is the music we used to listen to at arcades and travelling carnivals. We remember the year of 1981 when we were the enthused recipients of Dragonslayer, Excalibur and Clash of the Titans. Twenty years later, A Knight’s Tale is like going to a high school reunion where all your classmates are either retarded or dead.

Blurring the lines of the space-time continuum isn’t a groundbreaking conception. Julie Taymor’s overlooked 1999 production of Titus took a Shakespearean setting and added automobiles, Nazi-like politics and action figures to create a riveting piece of storytelling that shook up old conventions while still remaining true to the spirit and story. A Knight’s Tale is like Titus for titheads (something I wrote down even before I noticed Laura Fraser’s name in the credits, who played Titus’ daughter). I was continually reminded of Mel Brooks’ Governor in Blazing Saddles telling Harvey “Hedley Lamarr” Korman, “What the hell are you worried about? This is 1874. You'll be able to sue her!”

Its unsuccessful “experiment” comes off more like marketing pandering and has all the freshness of a used feminine hygiene product. No film trying to skewer this subject matter is going to run 132 minutes, which when you take away the “behind-the-music”, Nike symbols on the armor, the wave and witty modern dialogue like “YES” and “Helllooooo”, all you’re left with is some poorly-staged action, lame characters badly acted, and shoddy drama not worthy of a very special episode of Saved By the Bell. A Knight’s Tale is a boil on the festering malignant state of the cinema and it should be lanced immediately.

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originally posted: 05/08/01 05:42:56
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User Comments

12/21/08 Valerie Very entertaining, and doesn't try to be something its not. 5 stars
10/08/08 Shaun Wallner This film is hilarious!! 5 stars
6/17/08 sugar I thoought the movie was Boring...i nearly fell asleep watching it 1 stars
8/10/07 Hello Stranger alot of anachronisms. sometimes it crap, sometimes its good. ledger is a great actor here 3 stars
7/22/07 gr117 If loving this movie is wrong, then I don't want to be right. 5 stars
3/27/07 samantha great movie! Heath Ledger looks his hottest in this movie! 5 stars
1/08/07 Nagendran Not Historical. But Entertaining. 4 stars
12/16/06 Michele fun 5 stars
11/22/06 georgia what a lot of rubbish you switch to sky1 watch it for 2 seconds and your bored and in a bad 1 stars
11/13/06 bond, james bond sucks and them some- you have to see some guy's ass 1 stars
10/14/06 hbk the funniest medieval film ever.And there's a good story line as well i'm glad it works out 5 stars
10/10/06 India insultingly, juvenile. queen in the 14th century? 1 stars
9/27/06 Edward Shandis I'm still lost. This movie makes no sense and the actors suck!!! 1 stars
8/19/06 Beau very comical storyline that turns into an action packed love story, clever combination 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist A comlplete abomination& desicration to Queen, the rock band that will rock you! 1 stars
7/09/06 Me Lovely film, Heath is incredible. 5 stars
6/16/06 Michele loved it, fun 5 stars
6/03/06 jeanne In what twisted universe is Rufus Sewell the booby prize? The man's scorching hot! 3 stars
4/06/06 Kyah awesome heathe ledger is so hot! 5 stars
9/15/05 Dan Good movie! 5 stars
8/24/05 ES Fun and witty, good action and soundtrack, but not your traditional medieval fare 4 stars
3/13/05 Ronin It's one of these movies where you yawn after 5 minutes and turn it off after 10. DULL 1 stars
2/05/05 R.W. Welch Not sure how you classify this, but it's entertaining enuff,if you don't mind anachronisms. 3 stars
1/15/05 chritzie its a very fantastic movie! i like it very much... and its very romantic! 5 stars
10/29/04 ODH I thought this movie was going to suck, but I was pleasantly suprised. 4 stars
8/16/04 Rusty Klichowicz Modern crowd behaviour in mediaeval times... Inspired! 5 stars
8/04/04 Jerlie Baruiz its humurous 4 stars
7/29/04 paolo enea I agrre with the efc, it's a great movie 5 stars
4/28/04 Manny Very funny with much historic accuracy. When it is not accurate, it is obvious and funny. 4 stars
3/28/04 Margie it's a fun movie... and if you thought Chaucer was boring, this might lighten your view 4 stars
3/28/04 The More You Know Nobody wins when 2 losers + 2 hotties vie for the privilege to hold Ledger's jock. 1 stars
2/27/04 john i loved this movie 5 stars
1/27/04 joe smith 4 stars
10/08/03 Ingo Entertainment with a twinkle. 4 stars
9/08/03 Gray good parts and bad parts 3 stars
8/26/03 nick It was the best movie of all 5 stars
7/31/03 Nicole The soundtrack was annoying as hell 2 stars
7/22/03 I Would A boring, contrived and predictable. All complete with a shitty Queen soundtrack. 1 stars
7/17/03 Katie Roberts i don't think i could bare 2 watch it again 2 stars
6/08/03 valeria The film was excelent!! 5 stars
4/07/03 Jack Sommersby Laughabe absurdity. 1 stars
12/12/02 Jamie I loved this movie! It was an interesting twist of the medieval times! 5 stars
12/07/02 Kevin I like how a jousting arena appeared in London 1 stars
11/14/02 Adam The best film ever, I love this comedy 5 stars
7/29/02 Jon Since when were random anachronisms funny? That said, Chaucer was fairly amusing... 2 stars
6/30/02 Smoogles Different and interesting, a step away from the usual sequel/prequel crap 5 stars
6/29/02 Drew A fun film, that's all it is and all it was trying to be 4 stars
6/21/02 Bart Impossible to watch 1 stars
6/05/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi wats rong wif all u peeps, jesus this woz boring! shanks gracy lionheart, i understand u!!! 1 stars
2/24/02 Peter Anderson Excellent, worth the rent 5 stars
1/27/02 Berat Kosovo Shannyn is too beatiful i like her too much i could not sleep for two days after i saw her. 5 stars
12/27/01 Wreddg Lovin' that film. Yeah yeah, Shannyn Sossamon was so HOTT in that film.. dammn. 5 stars
12/14/01 DJ I loved it. SHANNON SOSSAMON WAS WONDERFUL. 5 stars
11/12/01 Gracy Lionheart Bad acting, script, and music. Ledger's love interest was awful. An all over UGH!!! 1 stars
10/17/01 JesseL Excellent movie. One of the best. Movie Freek is a moron. 5 stars
10/15/01 JD Sweet movie!! 5 stars
10/04/01 Jess This movie was GREAT!!! the actors were well selected and Heath was magnificent!!! 5 stars
10/01/01 The Bomb 69 mindless fun, I couldn't believe it was more than 2 hours long, very entertaining 5 stars
9/29/01 Minh I love Shannyn Sossamon 5 stars
9/29/01 Phoenix A Knight's Tale is so much fun, that you forget it's over 2 hours. 5 stars
9/24/01 Tamsyn Loved it! It made me laugh and feel great...a movie you walk away from feeling happy! 5 stars
9/17/01 Bri Different, amusing, good time. 5 stars
9/10/01 Matthew Bartley More fun you shake a stick at. Chaucer was great! 4 stars
9/04/01 Babybelle Ye olde fashioned film of yore...rock on !! 4 stars
8/27/01 Al I urge you to see this one. 5 stars
7/29/01 Jennifer Gaissert F-U-N 5 stars
7/25/01 ron20003 I couldn't get into it. 1 stars
7/10/01 Anne I don't know why, but I loved it. The acting raised it to great entertainment. 4 stars
6/25/01 Lara Frazier An Excellent Comedy! 5 stars
6/23/01 Barton Fink This film was okay, but mostly was silly and dumb. Hot girls though. 2 stars
6/19/01 Jameson Triplett This movie created a fun new twist to what could have been only a variation on a theme 4 stars
6/19/01 Bob Fun, entertaining, and highly recommended. 4 stars
6/09/01 Anne This film is great! 5 stars
6/09/01 Bill This movie was great and I loved the dance scene. 4 stars
6/07/01 AngieH Unlike "Moulin Rouge" this movie doesn't take itself serously, and it's a lot of fun. 5 stars
6/06/01 bats main review is on-target; I really tried to like dice 2 stars
6/06/01 Muad'Dib Tells you in the first scene not to take it seriously and just have fun. Both are easy. 4 stars
6/05/01 Obi Wan Flick was very entertaining. I went in wanting to hate it, and instead loved it. 4 stars
6/03/01 Why do you need my name i thought the way they mixed the music into the movie made it better 5 stars
6/02/01 Jennifer Heath makes it all happen! 5 stars
6/01/01 Hayley Wells This movie broke all the rules in an awesome fashion! It was superb! 5 stars
5/31/01 Heath Ledger, not aproving of your review Thought the movie was great. It was supposed to be more of a commedy than serious btw Eric 4 stars
5/30/01 Katie I love this movie 5 stars
5/30/01 Kendra It was so good Heath is a really good actor 5 stars
5/30/01 Roy Smith Telegraphs better than Western Union, no suprises at all! 3 stars
5/29/01 Mike Montemayor This isn't a bad film, if you can get over the extraordinarily clean peasants. 4 stars
5/29/01 Denise Dionisio It was cute 4 stars
5/29/01 thefirkin Never listen to newspaper critics! Don't look for an oscar! THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT ONLY!! 5 stars
5/28/01 Edward Shandis ok, I saw it again with the ol' lady. It REALLY SUCKED this time. 1 stars
5/28/01 Kathy Although it's a bit corny at times (i.e. dance sequence), it's a cute movie worth seeing. 4 stars
5/28/01 steverino Lighten Up, and Enjoy it 4 stars
5/28/01 Alaman Fun movie. Go see it... 5 stars
5/27/01 katie this movie was so amazing, i really enjoyed it 5 stars
5/26/01 Kristi J Smith Wonderful, Entertaining, THIS MOVIE ROCKS!!! 5 stars
5/26/01 S What the hell! I am i missing something? i think this movie was great. 5 stars
5/25/01 Serena Witzke really good for what it is 5 stars
5/25/01 SlamRipley I don't know what the script writers were smoking, but I want some!!! 2 stars
5/25/01 Edward Shandis what in the hell happened back then? 2 stars
5/25/01 Jason Either have a comedy or a drama, don't try to mix the two; these guys aren't Chris Farley. 3 stars
5/25/01 Noelle This is a great film. It's unusual but that is what makes it fun. 5 stars
5/24/01 Brandon Herberger Could not stand this film 1 stars
5/24/01 Courtney Maxwell It ROCKS!!! Best movie ever!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/24/01 bluebeena Very disappointing... great for teeny boppers... 2 stars
5/24/01 malcolm good action, mix of music and medieval culture was hilarious, awesome ending 3 stars
5/23/01 Robynn A movie to go and have fun at, a few bits of dialogue made me cringe. 4 stars
5/22/01 Chris Shannyn Sossamon is sooooo damn fine...thats all i gotta say 5 stars
5/21/01 Kassandra This movie was very entertaining and heath ledger was gorgeous 5 stars
5/21/01 Lara This movie kicks ass! 5 stars
5/20/01 Murf Jocelyn was extremely hot! 5 stars
5/19/01 Barry Moyerman great movie, lots of fun for all 5 stars
5/19/01 Xalt Interesting, and very fun. The mingling of past and present was skillful and exciting. 4 stars
5/19/01 lorraine much more fun than I expected 4 stars
5/17/01 Graca excellent 5 stars
5/17/01 Matti Dwyer Awesome! The best movie I've seen lately! 5 stars
5/16/01 Thomas Albert Could have more detail and better dialogue but otherwise it was an epic in the making! 5 stars
5/16/01 Laura Fun and Whimsical! I loved the contemporary themes and's just a movie! 5 stars
5/16/01 Kirsten One of the most visually uninteresting movies. Predictable, overly sentimental. Yuck. 2 stars
5/16/01 Rampage much better than Man in the Iron Mask and Mask of Zorro 4 stars
5/15/01 Krystal I smiled most of the time...did get quite long though 4 stars
5/15/01 Obisidianbear Very good Movie, and the girls love it. :P 4 stars
5/15/01 arvind comedy,drama,history,romance,emotion.all 3 stars
5/15/01 Kymbric Less historically accurate than a Disney film -- but charming and funny! 4 stars
5/15/01 Kirsten I loved it 5 stars
5/15/01 Aubie LOTS OF FUN!!! GREAT SOUNDTRACK!!! 5 stars
5/14/01 Julia I loved this movie. Great music and Great FUN! 5 stars
5/14/01 Airborne_Dan A good time, and a fun film. Relax and Enjoy..... 4 stars
5/14/01 Aaron Hanson I love historical flicks, especially the Middle Ages, thats just me, of course 5 stars
5/14/01 nang the best ever 5 stars
5/14/01 Stephanie I am glad to see some thin different than the same old midevil movies, i loved the music!! 5 stars
5/14/01 Out for fun I had a great time watching this flick. 5 stars
5/13/01 Sheila Collins awesome... although so far from reality, it doesn't even count. 5 stars
5/13/01 Johnny Kicks fucking ass!!! 5 stars
5/13/01 Jon Westrm Not worth the time or money. 1 stars
5/13/01 rlvj DO NOT LEAVE until after the theater cleaners have left! 4 stars
5/12/01 Chris A fun, light-hearted movie - Some great laughs! 5 stars
5/12/01 Kathleen Williams Funny! Definitely worth the $7 to go see! Not much these days is!!! 4 stars
5/12/01 Jake A Knugget's Tale made my root canal look like a fun time. Awful movie... 1 stars
5/12/01 Intestinal Discomfort This movie gave me painful gas cramps. It sucks big beefy balls. 1 stars
5/12/01 Todd Worse than Hitler 1 stars
5/10/01 nanny wow dont miss it 5 stars
5/09/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) The best part of this cinematic experience was sampling Cherry Mountain Dew. 2 stars
5/09/01 Katie This movie is the best movie I've seen all year!!!l 5 stars
5/06/01 Loretta Fischer I left with a grin on my face. 2 stars
5/06/01 Boyd Possin I was magnificently entertained--and I see a LOT of movies! 5 stars
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  11-May-2001 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Sep-2005



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