A Knight’s Tale is a medieval romp through the jousting world of England with a ’70s hard rock soundtrack. It sounds much worse than it really is. Of course the film is made for the same people who dish out over forty dollars a ticket to see N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, but the intention of the film is much more than the studio advertising would have you to believe.
The story was written, produced and directed by Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential). Helgeland understands that he will be faced with the cry from critics that he is a sell out to the big studios.
“The bottom line is I went to Prague for six months with forty million dollars and a bunch of people who I’ve always wanted to hang out with,” he answers simply. “We drank a lot and had more fun than I ever could have had making independent films in New York City or Los Angeles.”
The film features up and coming actors like Heath Ledger (The Patriot), Mark Addy (The Full Monty), Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon, and Rufus Sewell. Ledger’s face will be seen on every poster and trailer, but even he admits that no one was really the star.
“The studios always need one name or face to put on all their stuff, but I don’t think I’m the reason this film is any good. I’m just one of many. This film is truly an ensemble cast. Maybe I’ll put some weight on so I won’t always be the center of attention.” Ledger is right, he definitely is not the reason this film is any good. The cast surrounding him makes the film a little enjoyable.
Paul Bettany is an absolutely amazing actor. If he is not one of the biggest stars in Hollywood over the course of the next five years, then the world will really miss out on an amazing thespian. From the very first scene in which Bettany is seen walking through the countryside with very, very little clothing on until the end, all eyes are focused on Bettany. Each scene is made better by his mere presence in the frame.
However, even such a great ensemble cast does not make a shitty story any better. The jousting scenes are done well and Bettany’s scenes are excellent, but that is it. The ’70s hard rock (including Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) will make you queasy when mixed in with the medieval fare. The story is cheesy and very formulaic.
A Knight’s Tale was made to make money with the summer box office crowd and that is exactly what it will do. Even though the film as a whole is weak, the parts that make it are very strong. Don’t count this cast or crew out yet. They are amazing, they just need something better to work with.
Matt Searer can be reached at Hooboggled@hotmail.com