(2002) - 20th Century Fox
by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
95 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:13, at the start
of chapter 17), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary track
with director Gil Junger, 2 Martin on
Moviemaking interviews, outtakes, A
Timeless Friendship featurette, Pratfalls
and Parapets featurette, Construction
featurette, 2 storyboard-to-final scene presentations, 3 deleted
scenes (with optional director's commentary), 2 theatrical trailers
for Black Knight, theatrical
trailers (for Minority Report
and Unfaithful), animated film
themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (28
chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), Spanish and French (DD 2.0),
subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
don't get more fish-out-of-water than this. In Black
Knight, comedian Martin Lawrence plays Jamal, a
contemporary, smart-ass amusement park worker who is magically
whisked away to medieval England. At first Jamal thinks he's ended
up at the rival, medieval-themed amusement park down the road. But
the reality of the situation eventually sets in, and the bumbling "hero"
soon gets caught up in a plot to overthrow the wicked King and
restore rule to the kindly Queen, whom the citizens prefer. Along
the way, Jamal tries to woo the beautiful, rebellious Victoria
(Marsha Thomason) and help fallen knight Knolte (Tom Wilkinson)
reclaim his honor and dignity, while Knolte helps Jamal bring forth
his bravery. Pretty typical stuff.
Black Knight is so vanilla, so
hopelessly generic and derivative, that the viewer's affinity for
this film will lie solely in their ability to appreciate Martin
Lawrence. It serves as nothing more than a vehicle for the star.
Judging by the film rating given above, it's safe to assume that
Lawrence's twitchy, whiny, cutesy-idiot posturing grates on this
critic's nerves with a disturbing sense of ferocity. In fairness, if
you do, in fact, dig Lawrence's comedic stylings, by all means tack
on another letter grade. But Martin Lawrence or no Martin Lawrence,
this is still a very mediocre film. The plot is predictable, the
heroes and villains are prototypical for this type of film, and many
of the jokes are humdrum (with the exception of Jamal's formal
introduction to the King, which - I confess - had me laughing like a
hyena sucking nitrous oxide).
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen video on this DVD is impressive.
Colors are vivid and the picture has a clean, smooth, film-like
appeal. The overall image has a soft characteristic, but fine
picture detail still shows through respectably. The Dolby Digital
5.1 audio truly shines. The entire soundstage is used to convey a
sense of openness and dimensionality. The action-oriented scenes
have plenty of surround usage and directional effects, and the score
lights up the audio during more focused moments. The audio on this
DVD will impress more than the typical action-comedy example.
Those looking to dig a little deeper into the making of Black
Knight should be impressed with the extra features found
here. The supplements kick off with an entertaining audio commentary
track with the film's director, Gil Junger. Junger offers some nice
insight into the history of the film, and provides good commentary
on the creation of specific segments. I often found some of his
comments funnier and more entertaining than what was happening in
the film itself. Ironic, no? Next up are two segments called Martin
on Moviemaking, in which a small picture-in-picture box
featuring a Martin Lawrence interview is overlayed against the
specific scene about which he's speaking. The scenes featured are
Jamal's meeting of Knolte, and the scene in which Jamal has trouble
riding a horse. A short compilation of outtakes also finds its way
on this disc. Look for a very funny cameo by the director.
Also on board are a series of short featurettes. They run between 2
and 10 minutes each, are fairly informative, and are thankfully
short on flowery ass-kissing. A Timeless
Friendship covers the unlikely on-screen pairing of
Martin Lawrence and classically trained British actor Tom Wilkinson.
Pratfalls and Parapets takes a
look at the many stunt sequences in the film, while Construction
deals with turning parts of North Carolina into medieval England.
The Choreography featurette
stars everyone's favorite late-'80s radio plague, Paula Abdul, who
served as choreographer for the party sequence. Two
storyboard-to-final scene presentations, three painfully bad deleted
scenes (with optional director's commentary), two Black
Knight theatrical trailers and additional theatrical
trailers for Minority Report
and Unfaithful wrap up the
nice helping of DVD supplements.
If you like Martin Lawrence, then you'll probably get a kick out of
Black Knight. Just don't
expect to see anything you haven't already seen before in dozens of
other films. If you're disinclined to Lawrence, I don't think I have
to tell you to steer very clear. The DVD features nice video and
even nicer audio, along with a well put together group of extras.
But, at most, this is rental for the curious.