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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
A Knight's Tale (Superbit) (2001)

Jocelyn: And what would you do with my name, sir hunter? Call me a fox, for that is all I am to you.
William: A Fox? Oh, then a fox you shall be until I find your name. My foxy lady!

- Shannyn Sossamon, Heath Ledger

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: October 16, 2002

Stars: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell
Other Stars: Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Alan Tudyk, Berenice Bejo, Scott Handy
Director: Brian Helgeland

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some nudity, and brief sex-related dialgoue
Run Time: 02h:12m:00s
Release Date: August 27, 2002
UPC: 043396094147
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-A-A- D-

DVD Review

When I first heard the premise of A Knight's Tale, I thought it to be absurd. A 14th century tale of valiant knights given a modern edge with pop culture references seemed like nothing more than a weak attempt to cater towards individuals with short attention spans. Beginning the film with preconceived expectations, I found myself cringing during the opening jousting tournament, which is set to Queen's We Will Rock You. However, in just a short amount of time, I found myself uncontrollably drawn towards the central conceit of the film. Yes, the film is absurd, but it is delivered with a charm and allure that is strangely irresistible.

A Knight's Tale provides plenty of fun for anyone looking to find carefree entertainment. The jousting tournaments are not unlike a 21st century football match, where the spectators roar with enthusiasm, and the brave contenders pummel one another with potent force. In addition to the action intensity there are also tender, heartfelt moments that blend in well with the film's robust energy. The film is a visual delight to behold, with landscapes, costumes, and cinematography that all provide stimulating eye candy. Most of all, the film is a successful comedy. Brian Helgeland's script is by no means as masterfully profound as his adaptation of L.A. Confidential, but he finds a nice balance between comic absurdity and clever wit. Much of what initially might seem like nothing more than unintelligent humor actually serves as a sly commentary on the decline of intelligent civilization.

The aspect that continues to bother me is the 1970s pop music. The rock music that was specifically written for the film works fine and does not undermine the 14th century element; it is difficult to say with any certainty what kind of music was prevalent during these times. Plenty of rock bands have also used medieval times as a songwriting inspiration, so why not use rock music as an inspiration for a film set in medieval times? Yet, unlike a good orchestral score, which quietly seeps into the soul of a movie nearly undetected, using pop classics from the 1970s in a 14th century environment proves awkward and distracting, as we typically relate these songs to the period in history from which they were created. While I still disagree with this method, I found that it, too, grew on me quickly. I even caught myself getting into the groove as a group of dinner guests performed an archaic dance to David Bowie's Golden Years.

A Knight's Tale is far from Oscar®-caliber, but it is a large success in terms of entertainment value. I was fully prepared to give this film a scathing review based on my preconceived notions, but in the end, I found myself pleasantly surprised. I am thankful to find that the open-minded side of me can still prove my pessimism wrong.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image transfer is dazzling, but does not appear to be quite up to par with Superbit standards. The bit-rate jumps all around, hovering around 3mps for a while before shooting up to 7 or 8. I often detected pixelization in the forest scenes, most noticeable in trees and bushes. Occasionally, there is slight video noise in the background, adding to the grainy aesthetic of the film. Otherwise, the picture is remarkable. The vibrant colors are astonishing for a DVD transfer, while the sense of depth provided by the accurate black level is nearly lifelike. I do not believe this to be a great Superbit transfer, but perhaps Superbit transfers have spoiled me as of late.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: When comparing the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks, DTS emerged the clear winner. While excellent, the Dolby track sounds too constricted and lacking in dynamic range and spatiality. The DTS is much more expansive and charismatic. It is a fantastic audio experience that makes full use of the 5.1 channel experience. The jousting match spectators roar through the surrounds with vigor. The sounds of splintering lances and clanking armor pound throughout the wide soundstage; this is a sonic assault further exemplified by a powerful LFE channel. From the whisper-quiet moments of dialogue to the aggressive jousting tournaments, everything about this soundtrack is clean and natural. A Knight's Tale may not provide the most exciting soundtrack I have ever heard, but the DTS track excels in terms of fidelity.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:01m:38s

Extras Review: A Knight's Tale has been released in the standard Superbit format, with the only extras being a multitude of subtitles. This is a major disappointment, as the original release contained many interesting supplements. The decision not to release this title in the recent Superbit Deluxe format is a great mystery.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

A Knight's Tale is an enjoyable, light-hearted romp, and I respect it as such. The new Superbit transfers are wondrous, but the lack of special features is a disappointment for what could have been a good excuse for collectors to upgrade from the previous version. Instead, I can only recommend the Superbit version to those who do not already own the excellent special edition.

 


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