Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 21st, 2004
After fifteen years in the service of the Roman army in Britain, Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) andother knights of the round table look forward to being released and returning to their homelandof Samartia. Their leader, Arthur (Clive Owen), pines for Rome. But one last rescue missionturns into a nightmare, and then the Saxons invade. Gradually, our heroes discover that they lovetheir adopted country, and Arthur has his illusions about Rome destroyed one by one.
The look …s very lavish, yet gritty, as if director Antoine Fuqua were trying to apply thesensibility of his Tears of the Sun (which has a rather similar plot) to The Lord of theRings. The result is hardly memorable. The battle scenes are exciting enough, but there isn’tanything enormously compelling about the proceedings. This is the extended edition, and someof the scenes do help. An early one, for instance, makes sense of all the Pelagius references thatcome later in the film.
Very nice environmental effects here, and the placement is superb. The wind effects areespecially nice — one feels the damp settling into one’s bones. The score is big and majestic, andthe dialogue is clear and undistorted. In other words, this is a soundtrack that goes a long waytoward given the film an epic feel that the story itself fails to provide.
The colours are strong and rich, even if the palette of the film is deliberately drab, as if thesetting were the First World War. (This is not the case for the game demo. More below.) Theimage is sharp, and the grain is minimal, if just perceptible. The blacks are fine, and there are noreal edge enhancement problems.
Antoine Fuqua is, it must be said, is a director who is passionate about his work, and hemanages to make the film sound rather more interesting than it is (the parallels he draws betweenthe story and the historical experience of African-Americans is intriguing). “Blood on the Land:Forging King Arthur” is a pretty typical making-of featurette. The roundtable discussionbetween the cast and the filmmakers is rather more interesting, if still a bit promotional. Thealternate ending is interesting for its optional commentary, where Fuqua sounds very unhappywith the ending he was finally stuck with. “Knight Vision” is a trivia track that appears in subtitleform. The still gallery can also be viewed as a slide show, there are trailers for The LifeAquatic and the execrable The Village. A demo of the Xbox game is also provided.The demo itself is quite generous (both single player and co-op versions of a couple of missionsare provided), but the look of the game is muddy, drab and unexciting.
Not a terrible film. But it is hardly stirring, either. Monty Python and the Holy Grailremains the definitive treatment of this story.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Cast and Filmmaker Round Table
- Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary
- “Knight Vision” Trivia Track
- Photo Gallery
- Xbox Demo