Plot: What’s it about?
King Arthur (Sean Connery) is soon to be wed, to a beautiful young woman named Guinevere (Julia Ormond). She has been promised to Arthur by her father, so she journeys to his kingdom to offer her hand. But when she is kidnapped en route, a rather unlikely hero steps forward to save her, a roguish swordsman named Lancelot (Richard Gere). He turns coins by making wagers and challenges with peasants, but now he eyes a larger prize. He and Guinevere spark a bond soon enough, but she is promised to Arthur, which puts her beyond Lancelot’s reach. As forces align to battle Arthur’s men and tensions mount, what will become of Lancelot and Guinevere’s forbidden romance?
First Knight is like a popcorn period piece, an historical epic with more focus on star power and style than the historical record. I do think the movie is fun to watch however, with solid action set pieces and Sean Connery as King Arthur. I have a deep interest in all things King Arthur, so I am able to overlook some of the flaws, to enjoy the raw entertainment. As varied as the legends about Arthur and his realm are, you have to marvel at how off the beaten path First Knight takes its journey. This is not the Lancelot we know, that much is certain. So if you’re after realism, First Knight isn’t going to be your cup of tea, but for popcorn fun in period costumes, this is solid entertainment. If you’re a fan of the movie, this Blu-ray edition offers welcome upgrades, so if you want to check out First Knight, I recommend this version.
Video: How does it look?
First Knight is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’d call this high definition treatment quite good, but not quite great. I wasn’t too bothered by the light grain, but the visuals don’t often hit the level of depth I’d like to see. I could be spoiled, but I have set my expectations high for high definition, even on catalog releases. I do think detail is solid here and impressive at times, but not as consistently excellent as I had hoped. On the plus side, the colors shine and look superb, while contrast is spot on and never wavers. So not the best of the best in terms of catalog transfers, but a very good effort.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option is in line with the visuals, always good, but not as dynamic as I hoped. The surrounds come to life on a regular basis, thanks to some well handled action scenes. Those prove to be the core of the soundtrack, with good range and power. Perhaps not as powerful as more recent releases, but there is good presence to be heard here, without question. The music also kicks in some nice depth, while dialogue is smooth and without issue. This disc also includes French, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Japanese language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can listen to not one, but two audio commentary tracks here, one with director Jerry Zucker and producer Hunt Lowry, the other with a scholar with immense Arthurian knowledge. The expert session proves to be quite good, as he runs down the countless errors made by the production, but to be fair, he also points out the few correct guesses also. A humorous, informative, and one of a kind track, this one shouldn’t be missed. Zucker and Lowry are kinder to the movie, as expected. The two share bland production data and overpraise their own work, standard fluff stuff here. This disc also includes some promotional featurettes, as well as some deleted scenes.