Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Kid in King Arthur's Court

Based on the Mark Twain novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a modern take on Twain’s novel as a young boy who goes back in time to the world of King Arthur as he helps the legendary king retain his power. Directed by Michael Gottlieb and screenplay by Michael Part and Robert L. Levy, the film is essentially a family film that brings a lot of childish humor to this take on Twain’s story. Starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Art Malik, Paloma Baeza, Ron Moody, Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig, and Joss Ackland as King Arthur. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is an uninspired and extremely silly family film that just tries too hard to be entertaining.

With King Arthur’s court in danger by unrest, Merlin (Ron Moody) via a magical water creates a spell to find a savior. What he gets is 20th Century young teenage kid named Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas) to arrive in the 6th Century where he stopped a mysterious black knight. After being captured by Arthur’s guards, Calvin meets King Arthur as he also meets Arthur’s longtime advisor Lord Belasco (Art Malik) who believes Calvin is a dark force sent to stop Arthur. Instead, the king is charmed by the boy as he takes him as he’s to be trained as a knight as Calvin meets Arthur’s youngest daughter Katey (Paloma Baeza) who is intrigued by him.

Under the tutelage of Master Kane (Daniel Craig), Calvin learns to be a knight which was difficult as Katey helps out as she wants to know more about where he’s from and what is it like in the future. Meanwhile, Calvin goes to a blacksmith (Barry Stanton) to help invent earlier versions of the modern objects he has while finding himself being threatened by Belasco. With Arthur becoming more attached to Calvin, Belasco plans to take over and hopes to get Arthur’s eldest daughter Sarah (Kate Winslet) as his bride. By staging a kidnap on Katey and claiming that she’s been killed by Calvin, Belasco hopes to make Arthur stop Calvin. Instead, Arthur and Calvin go on a journey to rescue Katey as Arthur realizes what has happened as they get some unexpected help for an upcoming tournament.

The film is essentially a modern take A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with some changes to be suited for a modern audience in hopes for some light-hearted family entertainment. Well, it seems like a nice idea on paper but the final results that director Michael Gottlieb and his screenwriters create is truly lazy and messy. While there are very few moments where it does allow the film to become a total disaster such as Arthur’s reflective conversation about his own failures plus some development for himself and Calvin. There’s not enough of those moments to keep the film interesting as it plays by the rules too much in order to entertain the audience.

Michael Gottlieb’s direction is typical of medieval times films that is mixed in with modern pop culture references. Yet, there’s nothing in Gottlieb’s direction that stands out nor is there anything that is remotely interesting. It’s all done in the mechanics of a typical adventure film made for families. Throughout the film, there has to be moments of humor that is prevalent throughout the film but it doesn’t seem to work. A lot of the pop culture references and objects that Calvin brings such as the CD walkman, rollerblades, and bubblegum where many of these references, as of 2011, seems to be very dated. At the same time, the modern-day dialogue told in this period seems to spoken very awkwardly by many of the characters.

The film’s script has some issues where one of the key elements of the film revolves around the mystery of the black knight. Though it’s revealed towards the end, it doesn’t make sense as the character who is revealed to be the black knight is in one location while the knight is at another location. It becomes very confusing and leaves a huge hole in the film’s plot. While it’s not a film meant to be taken seriously and be seen as light-entertainment, it really doesn’t do anything at all. Plus, there’s not a lot of technical aspects of the film that is noteworthy nor does the score of J.A.C. Redford that is just a re-hash of a lot of scores of these type of films. Overall, Gottlieb creates what is definitely a dull and un-exciting film.

The cast for the film is really more of who is in this film as there isn’t a lot to be wowed about. Ron Moody just appears in a haggard look as Merlin that is hampered by the weakness of the script while Art Malik just plays a very one-dimensional villain that is just very angry about Calvin and tries to charm Kate Winslet in the most pathetic manner. Speaking of Kate Winslet, she delivers an OK performance though due to the bad script. She’s not really given much to do but be very dramatic or to try and be funny where it doesn’t really work while she looks quite thin. Kate Winslet is not meant to be thin! She’s fucking Kate Winslet!! There’s also Daniel Craig in the role of Master Kane as he too, tries to give something that is a performance but ends up looking quite ridiculous with that awful pageboy haircut that he’s given. James Bond in a pageboy haircut?

Paloma Baeza is pretty unremarkable as the love interest as she just tries to be charming, funny, and be kidnapped while Joss Ackland is just embarrassing for the way he makes King Arthur to be all adventurous as the funny lines he’s given aren’t very good at all. Yet, Ackland is also forced to be very mopey though he does not make himself go over-the-top in that approach to the performance. Thomas Ian Nicholas is a very good actor but this is pretty much terrible as it’s just an awful rehash of the character he played in Daniel Stern’s much-beloved 1994 film Rookie of the Year. The only difference was that the character he played in that film was engaging and was someone kids could relate to. In this film, there isn’t any of that other than to be silly and to try and look cool while it’s also clear that Nicholas’ voice at the time had just hit puberty which made the performance seem very awkward.

A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a forgettable and silly film that takes itself way too seriously while providing very little for people to be entertained by. It’s not the worst kind of film out there for families to see but it’s certainly a film that isn’t very memorable. For fans of Kate Winslet and Daniel Craig, as those two would go on to have greater careers, it’s nothing more than a chance to see what they were doing before they became mega-famous. In the end, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a very silly film that is just very ridiculous as the best way to spend 90 or more minutes is to watch the much-beloved Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Spam, spam, spam, spam…

© thevoid99 2011

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