Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Knight's Tale

A Knight's Tale

When movies start with Queen's "We Will Rock You" there's a good chance they're not going to be high cinema. When that is accompanied by medeival peasants stomping and clapping to the beat, there's a good bet you're not in for Orson Welles, or even The History Channel.

I'll admit up front that I absolutly hate intentional anachronism.
n 1: something located at a time when it could not have existed or occurred [syn: mistiming, misdating]

Almost always, when people do this kind of thing on purpose, it's played for laughs. Filmmakers usually try to make the things fit, by quaintly changing them to make them more accurate but still pointing at the modern concept.

There are also those cutesy little moments that are put in films where people go talk about something in their time period, and since they aren't the viewer, they don't know that what they're saying is ironic or amusing. That's like a scene I've been told is in Titanic where somebody says Picasso or Van Gogh won't amount to anything. Oh, teehee, we as the audience know that Picasso and Van Gogh are way famous! That means it's funny! This phenomena is exactly why I don't bother every watching Shanghai Knights even though I loved Shanghai Noon.

All that being said, my outlook towards A Knight's Tale was rather absymal. I thought it might be amusing, and my best friend liked it so I thought, why not? So I rented it.

Two things happened in the opening credits that proved that I would at least enjoy the film: the names Alan Tudyk and Paul Bettany. Tudyk could make faces to the camera and I'd be amused, he's great. Bettany actually made me like a romance movie like Wimbeldon, the likes of which I usually get bored with.

And really, Heath Ledger is quite a looker. Not to mention that jousting is neat.

So let's say I went in with low expectations. I was served them back with only a small return on the investment in the end. Tudyk was fantastic, and as usual every time he opened his mouth he said something funny.

Bettany was a little different, as he was the only real "known" player, taking on the role of Geoffrey Chaucer, affectionatly called Geoff. He was the source of most of those "teehee" moments I mentioned. He tells some men who threatened him that he will "eviserate [them] in fiction." And I'm sure if I could remember much of the Chaucer I read in high school, I would have gone, "Oh, that's funny because in Cantebury Tales..."

But I forgave him, as I did most of the things that usually bug me. In the end the only fault that still bothers me is that well, it was kind of boring. That doesn't make sense even as I type it, since it was a movie full of grown men bashing each other with sticks...but still, I was bored.

Maybe it was that the characters were all so one-dimensional that they could have put up cardboard cut outs and animated moving mouths and it would have worked just as well. No, not the acting. The acting was fine, it was the script that I'm talking about. You have William, the stalwart young man determined to change his lot in life. His father, the man who didn't get a chance but is determined his son will have one. Wat, the funny one with the bad temper. Roland, the wiser, happy guy (who can sew!). We can't forget Kate, the girl-blacksmith who is just as good as the boys, even better because she invents better armor.

Along with our merry band is Jocelyn, the beautiful woman who hates that she's so beatiful people don't respect her, so sad. There's also the eeeeeevil Count Adamar, a man so sinister he needed a handlebar mustache. He's there to poke men with big sticks, knock them off their horses, take the woman as his prize, and sneer at anyone who isn't him.

Of course, overall this was really just a sports movie. As a sports movie, it did really well. There were plenty of heartbreaking moments where you wondered if the hero would win or fall off his horse. He even does the last tilt without armor so you can see his pretty face.

I'm making more critcisms than I meant to. In the end, it wasn't a wasted evening. I had fun, watching it with my friends. We wanted to fast forward a few times, but the urge wasn't as strong as say, Dragonfly, which I didn't fast forward through because I was cleaning my living room and couldn't find the remote.

It's not a bad Saturday afternoon rental movie. But I wouldn't put off mowing the lawn to watch it either.

Oh no, I just discovered that Alan Tudyk is in Dodgeball: A True Underdog story. I might have to watch a Ben Stiller movie...whatever am I going to do?



I just finished watching an older film, Dragonfly, with Kevin Costner and Kathy Bates and a lot of other people I can't remember right now.

I have this slight problem when reviewing films, I tend not to want to outright bash the people involved. I want to make excuses for them and such. But I just can't with this one.

It began kinda promising, and I almost actually cared about the characters. When the first "supernatural" event happens, I was actually getting into it. There's a kid that's flatlined, and suddenly he wakes up again. Spooky stuff.

Then the "too much, too fast, too small" syndrome starts. The point is to give the main character, whose name is Joe by the way, Emily's Joe, a mystery to unravel. He's got to follow the clues to figure out what his wife is trying to tell him.

But we get each clue hard and fast, and smaller characters run on and off the screen so quickly you're not sure they were even there. Some mystery, we don't even get a chance to try to figure it out because he's already got one thing down and is moving to the next.

Several reviewers compared it to The Mothman Prophecies. I wouldn't be that kind, because the Mothman Prophecies actually spooked me out a little. Of course, it could be because I live close enough to where that all happened.

Not to mention that the END of that movie is not really an up or down ending, it just is. It really felt like it was telling a true story, which the author felt it was. I'm sidetracked.

Dragonfly would have been a decent enough movie if the mystery unveiled something interesting, something neat or unexpected. I don't need a real twist really, but something.

Instead I get the most sentimental peice of crap I've ever seen put on my television. This is yet another one of those cases where I sat at the beginning of the movie going "I wonder if...nah, that would be too stupid!" and then it happened. This hasn't occurred since Urban Legend.

The ending is wretched, absolutly wretched. And Kevin Costner's reaction to said ending made me laugh so loud I scared my cat. People don't fall to their knees in real life, very rarely anyway. It's gotta be something dang good to make you fall to your knees, and while this revelation probably was pretty dang good for that character, he waited until about five minutes AFTER to fall over.

You think his brain couldn't keep up the pace, or did the editing just chop in a few too many seconds before they panned out? Because as it is, it's more like "*COMPLETLY SHOCKING ANNOUNCEMENT!*"
"My wife really did have something to say..."
*dramatic pause*
*more dramatic pausing*
*uncomfortable shifting from the extras*

Then after all that junk, as if that wasn't enough to make your brain slowly start to leak out your ears, then we get a voiceover.

Note to directors of the world: voiceovers often equal the death of your respectability as a film. Esp. when said voiceovers only occur once. If you have a narrator, sure. If one character's thoughts play an important role in the film, sure.

But if you start the movie with a vo, or end it with one, you're just spoonfeeding the audience what you didn't have the time or skill as a storyteller to show them before your producers said "That's it, no more budget for you!"

To top it all off the VO was so ultimatly sappy that I had to brush my teeth afterwards. Guh.

You know, I let movies get by with an awful lot of things that probably couldn't happen. Heck, one of my favorite action flicks is Independance Day and we all know that it's completly unbelievable.

But our stunning and shocking finale in Dragonfly? That's just too far out even for me. It's so completly impossible that it makes me want to remind the writers that since they're getting paid, they probably should actually write something that doesn't sound like a fifth grader chanting "And they all lived happily ever after."

Bad movie. Only rent it if you've got time on your hands, and a friend to mock it with.