Plot: What’s it about?
Jamal Walker (Martin Lawrence) lives in a bad neighborhood, has very little income, and works at small time amusement park, but he could have had more. He has a lot of potential as a leader, but chooses to do just enough to get by, if even that much. When he learns of a rival medieval theme park coming into the area, instead of working harder to keep up business, he decides to put in his application at the new place, Castle World. But as he cleans the moat at his current place of employment, he notices a golden medallion in the waters, one that looks as if it could be very valuable indeed. So he leans over the water, reaches in, and grabs the medallion, but instead of yanking it out, it seems to pull him under the water instead. When he surfaces, he finds himself in a strange place and encounters a homeless man named Knolte (Tom Wilkinson). As Jamal continues through the area, he stumbles upon a massive castle and assumes it is Castle World. After a series of misunderstandings land him inside as a messenger, Jamal discovers that not only is he not in Caste World, but that he is in the year 1328 and has agreed to be part of a dangerous rebellion, which seeks to overthrow the current king. But Jamal has never been good with helping other people, so will be come through or buckle under the pressure, as usual?
I couldn’t wait to see Black Knight in theaters, even though the trailer seemed a little lackluster, to be sure. But I have enjoyed a lot of Martin Lawrence’s work and with Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You) at the helm, I expected a solid, perhaps even hilarious picture. As it turned out, Black Knight was a very humorous movie, but it often has trouble weaving in the story elements, which throws off the laughs. It seems like whenever a series of great moments were rolling, the film would break off into story mode and not usually in smooth form. So the movie is either very funny or it grinds to a halt to tell the story, had the story elements been better interlaced into the material, a more consistent humor level might have been reached. Even so, Lawrence is on the mark and provides tons of laughs, thanks to his solid lines, outlandish physical humor, and banter with the other actors around him. So no, Black Knight wasn’t as hilarious as I had hoped, but it does have a lot of good material and as such, is recommended to those interested. Fox has even put together a nice treatment here, all the more reason to check out Black Knight.
As I mentioned above, this film has trouble weaving the humor & story elements together, which often slows the pace down more than a little. I think Martin Lawrence should have been given a little more slack in that regard, perhaps to spice up the storyline driven moments, add humor in there and quicken the pace. This is not a costume drama after all, it is a comedic film and needs to be funny, above all else. Lawrence does well enough in other areas however, with some great lines and some great chances to show off his skills, which he does. I don’t think this is his finest effort, but Lawrence comes to play and pulls off a lot of memorable moments, though he sometimes goes a little over the top, as usual. Other films with Lawrence include Bad Boys, Nothing to Lose, Big Momma’s House, Blue Streak, and House Party. The cast also includes Marsha Thomason (Priest, Brazen Hussies), Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, In the Bedroom), and Vincent Regan (B. Monkey, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc).
Video: How does it look?
Black Knight is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As per usual, Fox delivers an excellent visual treatment for one of their day & date releases, although this one isn’t quite up there with their elite presentations. I saw a couple of instances of shimmering, as well as some print flaws, which force me to drop the score a shade, but rest assured, this is still a top notch effort in all respects. The colors have a richer tone than expected, with lush greens and browns, while flesh tones remain even handed throughout. No problems in terms of contrast either, I found black levels to be well balanced and refined at all times. A very impressive visual presentation, with only minor flaws to contend with, and those never distract in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is your basic comedy mix, but some scenes have a little more juice than expected, though not enough to boost the score more than half a point. The bass heavy musical soundtrack pushes a little more power through, while some scenes also featured some ambient noise, too bad this wasn’t present throughout the film. But the included Dolby Digital 5.1 mix remains solid and covers the material well, so no real complaints. This disc also includes Spanish and French language options, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc houses a solid selection of bonus materials, including an audio commentary with Gil Junger, who provides an enjoyable session. Junger seems very open and candid here, even thanking the producers for giving him the chance to helm the picture, which I thought was cool, if a little awkward. But he details all sorts of information about the production and cast members, as well as assorted behind the scenes tidbits. You can tell he loved working with Lawrence also, as he has a lot to say about him and his efforts on the set. You can also listen to Lawrence’s comments via a separate option, but his session only covers two scenes and while I’m glad to have them, a full length track would have been welcome. A few deleted scenes have also been included, which can be viewed with or without Junger’s comments. This disc also contains four brief behind the scenes featurettes, storyboard to scene comparisons, a reel of humorous outtakes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.