Blu-Ray Review: First Knight (Special Edition)
By Jeff Swindoll May 13, 2008, 17:10 GMT
Together, Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Julia Ormond ("Legends Of The Fall", "Sabrina") and Jerry Zucker,the director of "Ghost", bring you a new vision of King Arthur\'s Camelot. A vision of breathtaking battles, of heart-pounding courage, of the undeniable love that brought an entire kingdom to its knees... and of the undying passion that made it live forever. ...more
If anyone could play the role of King Arthur it would have to be Sean Connery. Here the filmmakers decide to not portray Camelot as a magical place but as one with more reality and they partially pull it off.
Lancelot (Richard Gere) is a skilled knight without purpose roaming the countryside panhandling his sword skills for wagers to make ends meet. Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond) of Leonesse is en route to the capital of Camelot to wed King Arthur (Sean Connery). She does love the king, but there’s also some political advantage to her marriage as Arthur has agreed to protect Leonesse.
On the way her party is ambushed by the rouge knight Malagant’s (Ben Cross) army of thugs. She’s rescued by the dashing Lancelot and its love at first sight. However, Guinevere continues to Camelot to marry Arthur but Lancelot follows and eventually he’s offered a seat at the round table but can he accept when he longs for Arthur’s bride?
The story of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere is one that is oft told. Here director Jerry Zucker, of Ghost fame, decided to do away with Merlin and all of the other magical/supernatural elements that have been in the story. The tale is firmly set in the medieval ages, but it still has some stylized looks that do seem a bit out of place.
Lancelot has to go through a gauntlet that looks a bit complicated for the times. In some ways that reminded me of the steampunk of shows like The Wild, Wild West (since it’s a favorite that’s never a bad thing). I’ve always thought that some of the costumes also looked like Starfleet (the Next Generation) uniforms and that gave it a somewhat futuristic look.
They reach into the past to give us Malagant as a scenery chewing villain, but Ben Cross has such a devilish time playing him that I loved to hate him. The filmmakers say they were trying for a historical context, but those items I mentioned above give the film a somewhat timeless aspect.
Sir Sean is one that is such a larger than life figure that he has no problem assuming the mantle of the larger than life Arthur. Richard Gere seems out of place, but Julia Ormond makes a good Guinevere. All in all those looking for history might look elsewhere, but those looking for a good, old-Hollywood-style take on the Arthurian legend should be entertained. Sean Connery makes all doubts fade away since he was born for such roles.
First Knight is presented in 1080p anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a commentary from director Jerry Zucker and producer Hunt Lowry.
A second commentary is provided by Corey James Rushton (of St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia) on the Arthurian elements in the film. Only two special features are presented in high-def.
The first is 7 minutes of deleted scenes. Although they are in high-def, they have various nicks and scratches and don’t look as good as the film. The next is the 18 minute “In Shining Armor: Knights in Training,” which is about the swordplay in the film.
The standard definition featurettes include the 18 minute “The Quest for Camelot,” which documents the production, and the 18 minute “The Creation of a New Kingdom,” which is about the design of the film. Finally, there are some previews.
First Knight may not be the most historically accurate, but it does offer a version with some rousing battle scenes and Sir Sean. Great stuff if you’re in the right mood.