Plot: What’s it about?
William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) is a simple peasant squire, but he has dreams that extend beyond his current means. As he watches his master and the other knights clash in competitions, William wishes it were him up there, in front of the masses. He has some raw talent with a lance, but because he is a mere peasant, he is not allowed to enter the tournaments. But the sudden death of his master prompts him to push forward, to see if he has what it takes to be the ruler of the jousting realm. He and his two mates Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk) take to the road in search of competitions, but of course, William still needs a past and some documents, to back up his claims of being a real knight, not some peasant. This is where new friend and skilled writer Geoffrey (Paul Bettany) comes into the picture, as he agrees to pen William’s documents and create a past for him, which should be enough. William soon learns that a Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell) is the current champion and as such, an instant rivalry is born. But as William forges ahead, can he overcome the Count in battle in and out of the arena, all while being sucked into a whirlwind romance, a life of luxury, and trying to hide his real past?
One of infamous critic David Manning’s favorite movies of 2001, A Knight’s Tale has arrived on DVD. This movie was a lot of fun in theaters and holds up rather well at home also, thanks to a superb presentation from Columbia. I know some might expect a Braveheart kind of flick here, but this is way different than that, as it takes a more modern, comedic look at the Dark Ages. You’ll notice a lot of corny humor and references to modern conventions, but it is all in the spirit of the film, so don’t enter with a critical mindset. Just prepare to sit back and be entertained, which A Knight’s Tale is meant to do, entertain and little else. So no, this one won’t massage your brain by any means, but it is a well made and wild ride, which proves to be enough, I think. Heath Ledger (Manning’s pick as the summer’s hottest star) is terrific in the lead, while the supporting cast is also enjoyable to watch. So even if you don’t trust Manning’s review, you can take my word on it, A Knight’s Tale is well worth a look. This new Superbit edition has improved audio & video, but lacks the supplements found on the Special Edition, so weigh the options, then nab whichever release best suits your needs.
In the saddle here is Heath Ledger, who seems to be on the fast track to superstar status of late. I don’t know if I’d call him the hottest star of the summer, but he does turn in a solid effort and seems destined to headline many a blockbuster. He has worked in some comedies before and done well, so he handles the humor very well, but what about the action sequences? He manages well enough there also, thanks perhaps to some spot work in that respect in another of his films. I am always surprised to see how few pictures Ledger has worked in, as he seems seasoned and well prepared, very impressive stuff. You can also see Ledger in such films as Two Hands, 10 Things I Hate About You, Blackrock, and The Patriot. The cast also includes Rufus Sewell (Bless the Child, Dark City), Laura Fraser (Titus, Kevin and Perry Go Large), and Shannyn Sossamon (40 Days and 40 Nights, The Rules of Attraction).
Video: How does it look?
A Knight’s Tale is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The original release sported an awesome visual effort, so I was doubtful about how much room for improvement could be found here. The end result is not the same kind of enhancement seen on other Superbit releases, but some minor improvements can be seen. I’d just say some of the small flaws from the original have been stamped out, giving us a more well rounded presentation. So don’t expect a world of difference, but this is an improved effort, as promised.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original release also had a hard rockin’ soundtrack, but in this department, the new DTS soundtrack is a welcome improvement. Whatever was lacking from the prior release, this DTS track covers it and then some, giving us nothing short of a reference level experience. The bass kicks, the surrounds boom to life, and the smaller elements never get drowned out. The same Dolby Digital 5.1 track as before is also included, but if you have the equipment, the DTS option should be your soundtrack of choice here. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.