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A fast-talking maintenance worker is in for a royally rude awakening when an unfortunate moat mishap at the Medieval World theme park transports him back in time to 14th century England.
For more about Black Knight and the Black Knight Blu-ray release, see Black Knight Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 18, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Marsha Thomason, Tom Wilkinson, Vincent Regan, Daryl Mitchell (I), Kevin Conway
Director: Gil Junger
» See full cast & crew
Black Knight Blu-ray Review
...in urban armor.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 18, 2013
Funny man Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys) suits up for the oftentimes hilarious but sometimes drab "fish out of water" tale, Black Knight. It's a Comedy about a modern-era urban slacker who is suddenly thrust backwards in time by several centuries. Of course, it's hardly original, but it's heartily fun. The idea of modern man circling back hundreds of years to medieval times dates back at least to Mark Twain's popular A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Twain's followup to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remains a staple of Satire, Comedy, and even Science Fiction. It's an idea that was made into an abysmal movie, A Kid in King Arthur's Court, about a lad (and his portable CD player) who finds the same basic fate as Twain's Hank Morgan. It's an idea that was also no doubt the inspiration for a segment of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure ("Iron Maiden? Excellent!") and it's most certainly the foundation for Lawrence's film. Black Knight earns plenty of laughs with its modern urban America-meets-middle-ages-Europe schtick, and at least there's no CD player laser or other such obvious nonsense to save the day.
Jamal Walker (Lawrence) works a dead-end maintenance job at an even deader-end medieval castle theme park. A new, hugely improved park of similar theme is opening up in a couple of weeks, and it's only a couple of miles away. It's a death sentence for a park already on life support, and Walker knows that. He's already picked up a job application for the new park, but it may be a few hundred years before he hears anything. While picking debris out of the park's murky water, he grabs hold of a glowing medallion and soon finds himself transported to another place, another time. But he's a little too dense to realize that. He believes he's been ferried to the other park, and what a park it is. It even has the rotten medieval smell down pat. He does his best to play along with the gag. He calls himself "Skywalker" and passes himself off as a messenger and a jester from Normandy. Soon upon his arrival, he meets the lovely chambermaid Victoria (Marsha Thomason) to whom he is instantly attracted. However, he quickly finds himself in the middle of a plot to overthrow the king and return the deposed queen to her rightful throne. But it's all fun and games and make-believe, right?
Black Knight earns most of its laughs and all of its redeeming values from the interplay between modern urbanite and olden knights, kings, peasants, damsels, livestock, and all other forms and features of medieval times. Lawrence shows a strong command of what, exactly, the interplay requires to work. He finds an approachable, likable modern style and keeps the audience on its toes and in a fairly constant state of laughter. His banter and antics are never understated but neither are they overblown. Whether wooing girls with his modern tongue (in more ways than one), riding a stubborn horse, or finding his own personal code as he finds himself mixed up in a rebellion against the king, Lawrence maintains a positive character balance, never sending his Jamal over the top but never downplaying any of the gags, either. Lawrence makes the movie work almost completely on his own merits, his capable delivery of jokes, and his more than adequate turn when the scene demands greater drama, tenderness, or action.
Lawrence's many positive contributions prove even more critical considering that the rest of the movie is nothing much more than an empty vessel for his talents. The plot is razor-thin and terribly predictable. In fact, most of the second half of the movie is little more than a waiting game as the inevitable begins to play out. The film loses steam as it slowly drifts away from the laughs and a little more into the meat of the drama and action. Lawrence still maintains a positive vibe, however, but the laugh ratio certainly diminishes the more the picture moves away from its gut-busting first half and more towards its routine second. Otherwise, the film proves technically adequate. There's nothing extraordinary about the production design -- it's certainly not as resplendent and exacting as The Pillars of the Earth -- but the film holds its own, visually, with just enough regal razzle-dazzle-versus-peasantry-muck and basically convincing sets and costumes to define the periphery and help accentuate the humor.
Black Knight Blu-ray, Video Quality
Black Knight rides onto Blu-ray with a decent high definition transfer. It's rather dull and fairly flat, with colors that never pop and details that aren't all that. It displays tattered peasant garb, the more regal clothes, muck and mud, castle walls, and the like nicely enough, but not with the sort of eye catching, lifelike details and nuance found on the best transfers. Likewise, the color palette is basically effective but not what viewers would expect of a top end Blu-ray. Jamal's green football jersey stands out from the crowd, but even that lacks a real, genuine brilliance, even up against many of the naturally duller earthen tones seen around the film. Black levels are decent, as are flesh tones. There are some occasional speckles and pops, but they never appear in force. This is a watchable but not particularly noteworthy catalogue transfer from Anchor Bay.
Black Knight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Black Knight arrives on Blu-ray with a fairly good Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. There's a decent enough presence to the Hip Hop music that plays at the beginning; it's aggressive in energy and spacing and spreads out out well across both the front and the back while also enjoying honest clarity and solid bass. When Jamal first arrives in medieval times, the sounds of nature nicely immerse the listener in the environment, and various other ambient effects, particularly in bustling exteriors, are fairly reproduced. The big battle near the end delivers sufficient power and clarity. There are a few instances where the track sounds a little muddled, where clarity and precision are lacking, particularly early in the film when the employees and the boss discuss the future of the park. Even dialogue in that scene comes through a bit underwhelming. It all picks up nicely enough, however, later in the film. Nothing here is an any way spectacular, but the track generally provides a serviceable listening experience.
Black Knight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Black Knight contains no extras, and no menu is included. The film begins playback immediately after disc insertion. Optional English SDH subtitles must be switched on or off in-film with the remote control.
Black Knight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Martin Lawrence is the only real reason to watch Black Knight. It's a star vehicle if there ever was one and a showcase for his comedic timing and talents. Lawrence dominates every scene and merrily finds that contrast between modern urbanite and medieval denizen very well. The jokes are spot-on and well-delivered. This is simple but highly effective escapist entertainment, a movie surely not for anyone in the mood for serious filmmaking but perfect for those looking for a good, relaxing little movie sure to bring a smile to the face. Anchor Bay's featureless Blu-ray offers adequate video and audio. Worth a rental and perhaps a purchase at a rock-bottom price.
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