A Knight’s Tale (2001)


The Moon, At Least.  Her Breasts Were Not That Impressive.

A Knight's Tale (2001)Going into the break room at work can be a dangerous thing.  Half of the time they’re doing something supremely boring like watching sports and other times they’re watching movies of varying quality.  When I walked into the break room a few days ago, they were watching a movie I was aware of but had no desire to see.  But what I saw of it piqued my interest enough that I decided I should give it a look.  So hopefully that will explain why I watched A Knight’s Tale, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, and starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy, and James Purefoy.

A squire named William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), along with his fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), find their master Sir Ector dead while on the road to a jousting tournament.  In desperate need of money, William concocts the idea to compete as Sir Ector in his armor, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t have noble blood.  After winning some money, William talks Roland and Wat into continuing their charade to win more money, but they’ll need a forged patent of nobility to do it.  Luckily for them, they happen to encounter Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) walking naked along the road, naked from gambling debts and in need of money himself.  On his way to glory, William also encounters a standard love interest (Jocelyn, played by Shannyn Sossamon) and a standard rival (Count Adhemar, played by Rufus Sewell).  And then the standardness continues.

I didn’t really get this movie.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really see any appeal to it.  It’s very by the books when it comes to story.  The hero triumphs, he gets the girl, everything works out in the end.  But the lack of surprise doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad movie.  It’s just entirely predictable.  But that also can make it pretty boring.  I guess that could also have been the subject matter though.  Jousting just isn’t that interesting.  That’s why no one goes to Medieval Times or The Excalibur anymore … I assume.  I’m not researching here!  I’m just spouting off random nonsense.  But there’s nothing life or death about it; it’s just a game.  It’s practically a high school movie, replacing some boring sport with jousting and taking it back in time.  And since it’s basically a sports movie, we’re going to have to watch training montages.  I kind of understand the training montage.  It would be weird for him to just be untrained one moment and show up in the next scene saying, “Oh that was some good training,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a little boring too.  And they sometimes don’t make sense.  Some of the training scenes were of William riding at a device holding a shield, and then they show scenes of him trying to hit a shield held by Wat.  If you have that device, why are you risking Wat’s life?

The weirdest thing about this movie is the anachronisms in the movie.  It was innovative, I suppose, but also kind of weird.  It opens up with a crowd of people at a medieval jousting tournament singing Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”  To think Freddie Mercury has been getting credit for that song all these years!  People dress weird and use terms like “Foxy Lady” in the 14th century, having no knowledge whatsoever of Jimi Hendrix’ catalog.  “All Along the Watchtower” is a much better song!  William’s armoress, Lady JustDoIt, puts a Nike Swoosh on his armor after she apparently invents Vibranium (that would later be turned into Captain America’s shield) that is lighter and more resistant to damage.  It’s not bad that they made these choices in the movie, but it is definitely strange.

The cast of the movie was fine.  One of these guys would later be the best Joker in history, in case you didn’t know.  I can no longer tell if I like his performances in movies because he’s doing a legitimately good job or because I’m always thinking of the Joker.  Rufus Sewell plays a great dick.  He seems very easy to hate.  Alan Tudyk is always fun, even in the sometimes annoying comic relief role like he was playing here.  Paul Bettany was also entertaining throughout the movie, though I could’ve done with seeing his ass a few less times.  And maybe they could’ve balanced that out a little bit by showing us Shannyn Sossamon’s ass at some point, but they didn’t see the value in that apparently.  Despite her hotness, I found myself generally annoyed by her character.  She seemed a little too aware of her hotness, for one thing.  Granted, she’s aware of something that’s absolutely true, but being so aware of it kind of makes her seem conceited.  Also, what’s the deal with this “lose your jousting matches to prove your love to me” shit?  Will it prove that he values you more than he does winning at jousting?  Yes.  Could it get him killed or at least seriously injured?  Absolutely.  So he does prove his love, and he does get seriously injured, which proves that your love is pretty shitty.  Also, with her character sometimes coming off as unlikeable, and with how many other similarities this movie has with high school sports movies, I half figured they were setting up a hidden romance with Lady NikeSwoosh played by Laura Fraser.  All it would’ve taken is a few more bitchy moments out of Sossamon and a moment of Fraser taking a bath, letting her hair down, and replacing her paint-stained overalls with a pretty dress and this would’ve been Sixteen Lances over here.

I found A Knight’s Tale more strange than anything else, but it wasn’t bad.  The story was a basic high school sports movie with jousting instead of football and the performances were pretty good, but it was almost off-putting how odd it was for it to be so anachronistic in its presentation.  I thought this movie would be much dumber than it was, but I still don’t think there was anything spectacular enough to warrant a viewing, so I’d still say you may as well skip it.  A Knight’s Tale gets “You have been weighed.  You have been measured.  And you have been found wanting” out of “Change your stars and live a better life than I have.”

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John Carter (2012)


You Are Ugly, But You Are Beautiful!

The inspiration behind seeing today’s movie is going to be hard to explain, mainly because I had no inspiration to see this movie whatsoever.  I saw the trailers and thought, “Yup.  Looks like a movie.”  And that was it.  I saw a couple of people on Facebook talk about how great the movie was, but I would not be swayed.  One friend asked me if I wanted to see it, and I said no, but probably would’ve gone anyway had I not been at work.  When my roommate got a free ticket and offered to pay half of mine, I decided the universe was telling me to see this movie already.  Let’s see how it did in my review of John Carter, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon, directed by Andrew Stanton, and starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Ciaran Hinds, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, and Daryl Sabara.

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) of Virginia has died suddenly.  When he fell ill, he had sent for his nephew, Edgar “Ned” Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), but he arrives postmortem, but is given John’s diary by his butler and told that only he was supposed to read it.  His first thought is to release this book, slap his name on it, make millions, and then get a movie made about it with the guy that ruined Gambit in the Wolverine movie, but then his second thought is to read it.  It details a story about John looking for gold and finding a cave with a pasty bald dude who tries to kill him.  John shoots the pasty dude and gets transported away by the dude’s medallion.  He wakes up in a desert slightly different than the one he was already in and finds himself able to jump really high.  He meets a giant, green, four-armed creature called a Thark who is named Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).  Eventually, a couple of airships commanded by by the ruthless Sab Than (Dominic West) pursues a ship carrying Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) into Thark territory.  Sab Than has been given a powerful weapon called the “Ninth Ray” by the pasty bald Therns and is pursuing Dejah because she is trying to escape marrying him to save her people.  John uses his new powers to save her and bring down the majority of the ships, though Sab is able to escape.  Through Dejah, he finds that he was transported to Mars.  John resolves to get back to Earth, Dejah resolves to get John to defeat Sab, and Tars Tarkas’ secret daughter Sola (Samantha Morton) resolves to follow them around and be relatively ineffectual.

This movie perplexed me.  I didn’t find the movie hard to follow as the story is not really that complicated.  What perplexes me about the movie is that it’s inexplicably boring.  But, because I’m writing a review, I must find a way to “explic” it.  It’s strange to me because it has all the components of a really cool, really interesting, and/or really fun action movie, but it never comes to fruition.  The story is an interesting enough concept.  I like the idea of a human being transported to Mars where he turns into a superhero because he comes from a place with higher gravity, allowing him to jump higher and hit harder on Mars.  I don’t really get behind the idea that he’d EVER want to return to Earth, though.  His family died long before the movie started, so he didn’t need to get back because of that.  He did have a cave full of gold waiting for him, but you know what a cave full of gold can’t buy you?  Fucking super powers!  And you want a reason to hang out with your super powers on Mars?  How about the sexy as Martian woman you just met?  Sure, their romance came out of nowhere, but who cares?  She’s hot!  Their relationship never really worked for me.  He saves her life with his superpowers, but all she’s concerned about is getting him to save her city.  A while later, he helps her up off the ground and you see that they’re crushing on each other now.  That’s how he wins her?  Helping her stand up?  Neither one of them had given the other any reason to like the other before that, so it must’ve been his ability to help her off the ground.  She was constantly trying to trick him into helping her people, and he was completely unconcerned with helping her people.  No reason whatsoever.  Though this story had elements that should entertain me, it never really did.  One of the few parts that gained some interest was the Thark tradition of letting loose some babies and having mother pounce on them and fight over them to gain motherhood.  So, with a story that never catches your attention, you’d have to rely on the action to do it.  There was lots of action, but none of it interested me, and I’m still a little curious about why.  There was a guy or two with superpowers, some sword fighting, some giant creatures, but it all eventually devolved into people randomly swinging swords and blue blood flying around a little.  That’s about it.  It could have been the look, I suppose.  Almost every setting was identical, or not far removed.  It goes from desert, to desert, to desert with some water, back to desert, then ends up in a city … surrounded by desert.  I’m sure that’s what Mars looks like, but Mars looks boring.  The CG all worked really well though.  The creatures looked like they were talking, animated like real creatures, they had personalities, weight, and lighting to all look really good.

I had been trying to figure out where I knew Taylor Kitsch from every time I saw the trailers.  I wasn’t able to figure it out until the actual movie started, but then it worked against him because Gambit was my favorite X-Man and he ruined him.  He did fine enough in this movie, but I didn’t like the character because he looked the superpowered gift horse right in the mouth.  He did introduce himself as, “Carter.  John Carter,” and I’m pretty sure no one’s ever actually introduced themselves that way.  I was a big fan of Lynn Collins from her work in her own hotness from the moment I saw her.  I didn’t pay much attention to her performance though.  I did get supremely irritated by her character though.  It takes her the greater majority of the movie to stop being a selfish bitch.  She’s basically told that Sab will kill her people unless she marries him … so she runs off.  That means he’ll kill your people!  You care enough to try to get a guy with no interest in your people to help out, but you could’ve just married the guy in the beginning and not been a selfish bitch.  She figures it out about two hours later and does it, but now John loves her and stops it from happening.  Everyone else in the movie was either forgettable, a voice of a CG creature, or both.  Most of the characters in the movie made so little impact on me that I genuinely found myself much more interested in what was happening with the giant, alien, dog-like creature called Woola.  I loved that little guy, mostly (I’m sure) because he reminded me a lot of my own dog, Jabba.  He had an oversized head, big sloppy tongue, cheerful demeanor, and tendency to lie down and go to sleep at random.  The similarities were damaged some by the fact that the dog could run super fast instead of running for a few seconds, getting bored, and going to sleep. But so disinteresting were the human characters that, in a battle between a large army of aliens and John Carter, with Woola helping out a little, I found myself ignoring what John was doing and looking to make sure Woola was okay.

John Carter is a movie that seemed to have everything, but actually offered next to nothing.  The story was in interesting idea that didn’t deliver.  The action had all the ingredients but turned out bland.  The performances were fine, but all of their characters were overshadowed by a dog.  The CG was great, but the settings all looked the same and were visually boring.  Like I said, this movie is inexplicably boring, but it’s been explicked to the best of my ability.  I would say this movie is a waste of two hours plus, so I would recommend you steer clear of coughing up theater prices for it.  When it comes to RedBox, that might be the time to give it a look, but you’ll also do well to avoid it there as well.  John Carter gets “To those who seek the solace of eternity” out of “When I saw you, I believed it was a sign … that something new can come into this world.”

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