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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > A Knight’s Tale (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)

A Knight’s Tale (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)


Picture: B-     Sound: B     Extras: D     Film: C



There was a time when by his own admission, Heath Ledger would sign up for any film and take any role, no mater how stupid or idiotic.  Yes, some of the comedy would be intended, but he always had this knack for doing things funny in a way not even he was aware of.  Brokeback Mountain may have put an end to that, but the legacy of lunacy will be forever preserved on DVD and the new HD formats.  One of his most interesting laugh-fests is Brian Helgeland’s A Knight’s Tale (2001), a film the director also wrote and produced.  It is the simple tale of how a peasant (Ledger) becomes an ace jouster on horses pretending to be his boss and jousting champion Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell as the bad guy again).  In what would usually be a formula film, we get more humor than usual and lots of rock music.


This includes hit songs by Queen and then there are the jousts, which seem to have a joy intended as if they were setting up new train wrecks over and over and over again.  It just gets sillier and sillier, which means you’ll either keep watching or turn it off.  Enough have kept watching to keep it in print, so there you go.  Mark Addy (who once played Fred Flintstone, but is best known for the great Full Monty), Christopher Cazenove, Alan Tudyk, Shannyn Sossmon and Laura Fisher are among the surprisingly good cast who also keep this from being a total disaster.  That would make it a guilty pleasure for some, but I think others just like seeing horses clash to Rock music.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in Super 35mm by Richard Greatrex and it is lit well and has some good color, but the picture here is suffering from detail troubles some of the early Sony Blu-ray discs did, if not as noisy as (unreviewed) XXX and The Fifth Element suffered.  The trick is making a film look good in HD when only having 25 Gigabits, but we know this will get issued later in a 50GB version because this does not include the longer director’s cut.  One thing that may have happened is that Sony is using al the HD transfers for their popular audiophile and videophile basic DVD Superbit series and some of them are just not 100% solid.  S.W.A.T. Blu-ray (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was fine, but between compression and quickly dating technology, maybe those transfers have also dated a bit.


The PCM 5.1 16bit/48kHz sound mix is pretty good and the best option here, with the best previous sound version being the DTS 5.1 tracks on the basic Superbit DVD edition.  The film loves sporting hit records created centuries after the time the film takes place and this is hammered further by the original 8-channel SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; a movie theater-only format) original theatrical mix.  In either case, it has to be folded down to from 7.1 (five speakers would be behind the screen in theaters) to those mixes, but both are decent.  Of course, the problem is that the music is the sonic highlight, while the rest of the film cannot measure up.  Carter Burwell’s score is has its touches of Korngold and corny, but is serviceable, though far from his best work.


As a result of all the space needed for performance like the previous basic Superbit DVD, there are no extras, but Ledger and Queen fans will be somewhat happy for now.  With Ledger becoming The Joker in the next Batman film, this film will continue to attract new viewers, no matter how wacky.  Batman fans should note would-be Joker Paul Bettany co-stars with Ledger here and helps the film further.  If you have not seen it, check it out once just for the madness of it all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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