Judge David Johnson sucked at that old video game "Joust."
He will rock you. For about an extra ten minutes or so.
This release marks the third time Heath Ledger's medieval joust adventure has landed in Digital Versatile Disc form. The gimmick this time? It's the extended cut, which in fact is simply the insertion of the deleted scenes from the previous versions into the feature. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Facts of the Case
I'm not sure how much time I should really spend on this. After all, the thrust of this film has already been discussed two times previous on this site. Still, I'm not one to break with tradition.
Heath Ledger (The Order) plays Will Thatcher, an uppity peasant working for an over-the-hill knight. Will dreams of becoming a knight himself, but has resigned himself to the cold truth that his lack of noble breeding dooms him to a life of scum. But wait, maybe not.
As luck would have it, Will's employer drops dead, leaving him to fill in for a jousting competition. After feeling the thrill of hefting his lance and ramming it into another man's chest…er… let me rephrase that. Following a violent poking…nope, still not going to work. Basically he rides his horse and does jousting real good.
Now Will sees himself as the Next Big Thing, and with his quirky friends Wat (Alan Tudyk, I, Robot) and budding author Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) he just may make that vision a reality.
Oh, and along the way he falls in love with a psycho girl and pisses off the guy from Dark City.
Again, I'll dispense with any in-depth reflection on this film, as plenty of our bandwidth is currently devoted to it. Here's my brief take:
While much has been said about the anachronism of this film, for some reason it didn't really bother me that the peasants were clapping along with Queen or a royal ball turned into a high school rave.
No, what irked me about this film was the complete lack of surprise. The whole story was just too formulaic. It was well-executed formula to be sure, and quite engaging in some aspects, but 144 minutes of watching events unravel that you'll call happening 10 minutes in, is irritating.
Is there any doubt that the hero will get the girl? Or that he'll bitch-slap the villain? Or that said villain is completely without merit? Or that our hero's secret will eventually be revealed and exploited? Or that the final match will end in some do-or-die dramatic way? Of course not. A Knight's Tale is a by-the-numbers Hollywood feel-good adventure, wrapped up nicely with the required amount of a) comic relief, b) time-padded side stories, c) token female blacksmiths, and d) several claptrap-laden monologues about following one's heart and changing one's destiny and never giving up on oneself, etc. etc. etc.
But I'm not a complete cynic. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy A Knight's Tale from time to time. Writer/producer/director Brian Helgeland has infused his story with a great deal of fun, the result being the film never feels like it's taking itself super seriously.
Helgeland has surrounded Ledger, his leading man, with a goofy bunch of supporting actors, most notably Paul Bettany, and the chemistry they generate gives the film a light, fratboy feel. In a way, this is also a bit counter-productive, as I think Ledger himself suffers the most; he looks bad-ass smoking punks with his huge lance, but off his horse his character has the charisma of a two-by-four.
And about those jousting scenes: I think the focus on the joust is a Catch-22. It's neat-o to see these old-school jousts so well-done, but the spectacle quickly loses it luster and the lack of variety in the action scenes leave little wiggle room for Helgeland to manufacture thrills.
Plus it's long. Too long. This new extended cut now runs just a few minutes shy of two and a half hours. Though it never felt like a brutal slog, as I watched the film I was always aware that there was long way to go. Still, I suppose it's a testament to the entertaining nature of the movie that it maintained my interest throughout.
So let's get to the nuts and bolts and the only reason you're probably reading this review: is this new version worth your cash? No way. This is a completely uncalled for triple-dip, essentially a reorganization of previous versions and slapped together with a pretty new case. In fact, it's missing an extra—the commentary by Helgeland and Bettany.
If you own this film on DVD, either its original release or the Superbit, you have no need for the Extended Cut. If you don't own it and would like to, which would I recommend? Honestly? The cheapest one you can find.
A blatant triple-dip that offers nothing owners of the previous versions haven't seen before (and, actually, less), this extended cut of A Knight's Tale still manages to entertain with its infusion of fun Medieval shenanigans. If you own either of the other DVDs, pass.
As a disc unto itself, the accused is found not guilty. Taken in the context of its brethren, the accused is sentenced to serve two years in the Prison of No Point Existences.
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