Buy me!STUDIO: Columbia
MSRP: $27.98
RUNNING TIME: 132 Minutes
• Commentary by Brian Helgeland and Paul Bettany
• Production notes
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• HBO Making Of Special
• 11 Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes
• Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker’s Intros
• Music Video

Sometimes a movie just looks so bad that you don’t even need to go see it. And A Knight’s Tale looked like one of those. Heath Ledger as a jouster in ye olde England with a classic rock soundtrack? Yeesh.

Except that the film was written and directed by Brian Helgeland, the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential. And the trailer looked really fun

A Hard Day’s Knight.

The Flick

William Thatcher (Heath "The Patriot" Ledger) is a squire who has lived his whole life in poverty so squalid it makes today’s homeless look middle class. When the knight he squires for suddenly dies (he "shites himself to death"), William takes on his identity to participate in a joust so that he and his companions Randolph (Mark "The Full Monty" Addy) and Wat (Alan "Hearts in Atlantis" Tudyk) can win some money to eat.

It turns out William is quite good at the joust, and wants to continue competing – except that one has to be of noble birth to participate.

Wat, of the house of Shaggy.

Enter Chaucer (yes, that Chaucer), who acts as William’s herald and supplies him with a phony background as Ulrich von Lichtenstein. William becomes a crowd pleasing favorite as he travels Europe, and gains the attention of the evil Count Adhemar (Rufus "Dark City" Sewell) as well as the beautiful Jocelyn (newcomer Shannyn Sossamon).

Heath Ledger in a make-up test for Cast Away.

Once you know the set up, you can be pretty certain you know where the rest of the story is headed. A Knight’s Tale is pretty much a sports movie transported back in time to when hygiene was considered witchery. As a sports movie, A Knight’s Tale works marvelously – it’s easy to root and cheer for these characters.

"Never speak of Bless the Child again!"

A Knight’s Tale is a blast. It’s a big fun movie that never gets dumb. It is gleefully anachronistic, with characters speaking in modern terms, dancing to David Bowie, and cheering to Queen’s "We Will Rock You." If you can roll with that central conceit, you’ll spend 2 hours with a smile on your face.

"He was on Roar?!"

Helgeland has gathered an incredibly likeable cast, with Paul Bettany’s Chaucer and Tudyk’s Wat being my favorites. There’s a great chemistry between the main hero characters, and you can tell that they had a blast making the movie. If you walk in with an open mind, I think it’s impossible to not have a good time.

When I saw the movie in the theatres, I thought it might be a little long. A second viewing at home shows that the movie never overstays its welcome. A second or third look only improves the movie because you’re already sold on the anachronism and the great characters.

Chaucer joins Ye Olde Nation’s Punched.

Sometimes you have to not judge a movie by the trailer or commercials or (utterly awful) poster. A Knight’s Tale is just one of those. A triumph of fun, A Knight’s Tale is two guaranteed fun hours.

9.2 out of 10

"He’s got a HUGE… talent."

The Look

A Knight’s Tale looks better on DVD than it did when I saw it in theaters. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is pristine, with colors so crisp you can taste them. You know when DVD reviews talk about "black levels"? Look at this DVD to see what they mean. And detail is spectacular – which is sort of unfortunate when Chaucer is naked.

9.8 out of 10

Boogie Knights.

The Noise

Again, fantastic. I don’t have one of those reference quality systems – you know, the ones that cost the GNP of Guam and can kill you if the bass levels are off? But even with my "only decent" sound system, A Knight’s Tale was a JOY to listen to. The 5.1 mix is very strong, and makes great use of all the channels. You are AT the World Championship of Jousting. Just thank God this one isn’t in Smell-o-vision.

9.8 out of 10

I don’t know why she’s smiling – this is centuries before Right Guard was invented.

The Goodies

IT JUST GETS BETTER! What a disc Columbia has put together here – really good movie, wonderful transfer and sound, and a host of extras that really live up to the Special Edition tag.

The commentary on this is reason enough to buy the disc. Director Helgeland and Paul Bettany (Chaucer) are old friends, and have a couple of beers and enjoy themselves. You get basic info that you’re looking for, and also a lot of laughs as they poke fun of the movie and themselves (my favorite running gag: Helgeland is upset that Sony’s research department didn’t let him know that they didn’t have rock music in the 1470s). These two give Kevin Smith a run for his money in the great commentary race.

In a little known medieveal torture, one’s head is replaced with a Tribble…

There are 11 featurettes, each of which are actually interesting an informative. I just wish that they had been stitched together as one long documentary, but I suppose Columbia is keeping those without attention spans in mind.

There are six deleted scenes, which you can watch on their own or with commentary (by Helgeland, who is talking funny because Heath Ledger knocked his tooth out). these are good scenes, but the movie is already long enough.

There’s also a lame HBO First Look, the trailer (and a Final Fantasy trailer) some filmographies, and a video for the Robbie Williams and Queen rendition of "We Are the Champions." And for all you DVD-ROM folks, we have a weblink and a screen saver.

Everything you could ask for in a special edition is here – and good.

10 out of 10

The Artwork

Ugh. This cover sucks. It is the movie poster, with two jousting guys added at the bottom. The poster sucked, and this cover sucked. Of special note as sucking extra hard: the "He will rock you" tag line. Looking at this art, you can understand why peoplel had no idea how good this movie is.

4.0 out of 10

Overall: 9.4 out of 10