Black Knight  (SE)/ C, A-
Fox/2001/95/ANA 2.35

     Black Knight relies on its high concept and the comic style of Martin Lawrence to create a successful comic cocktail, but don't look for a laughter hit from this glass.
       Jamal Walker works at a  medieval theme park in  Los Angeles. A mishap transports him  back in time to the days of chivalry and knights in shining armor and kings and rebellions. It's a concept that's been done before. Mark Twain's novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was made into a movie in 1948 starring Bing Crosby and William Bendix. In recent years we saw Les Visiteurs, the French time travel comedy that reversed the theme. It's not particularly original material. It depends upon the treatment. Black Knight tends to dumb the material down. It's not especially funny. There are times you sit watching with a straight face despite the rubber facial contortions of star Martin Lawrence, who certainly can be funny at times.

Norman dance moves from Sir Skywalker. ©Fox

      It falls to Jamal to be a messenger and a jester and a savior to the kingdom. He brings his new ghetto sensibilities to merry olde England. The are many comic possibilities, so it's particularly disappointing when they are not delivered. 
     There are threads that remind one of The Court Jester, with rebellion brewing and mistaken identity. Conveniently, a pretty Moorish maid spies Jamal quite quickly and they bond. She's in bed with the rebels.  Naturally, Jamal finds his sympathies lying with the rebels. But, it lacks the magnificent manic energy of that film.
     Oddly enough, for this kind of movie, Black Knight seems too small. There aren't enough warriors, nor palace guards, nor courtesans. It appears a measure of economy. Effects are kept to a minimum, and ironically, it think Black Knight might have benefited from additional pizzazz. The comic highlight, perhaps the only sustained mirth making moment, is the dance number that evolves from the king's desire to see the latest Norman dances. Jamal answer the king's challenge with down home choreography and scoring.
    In the end, this fantasy merry olde England conjured up by Jamal is closer to a theme park work and not an exciting one at that. The thrills and chills and humor are limited to guttural utterances and crude facial movements of Martin Lawrence. The credit sequence is absolutely abysmal There's even a moment in Black Knight when Lawrence is trying to do execute some funny bit that seems tailor made for the talents of Eddie Murphy. In fact, Eddie would have been a far funnier and more convincing visitor to this distant world of yore.  There are some funny supporting performances, notably Kevin Conway as King Leo and Jeanette Weegar has some leering sexual moments as Princess Regina, but the talented Tom Wilkinson is pretty much wasted as Knolte, the debauched knight.
   A very pleasant looking DVD.  Perhaps a few scenes are slightly oversaturated. It's a sharp transfer, not edgy, and very clean. Color space is excellent. Flesh tones are comfortable. Good shadow detail and outstanding light output. No motion artifact raise their ugly presence. Fine detail is kept in focus and stable. The Dolby Digital 5:1 sound mix is aggressive and entertaining.
   For those of you looking to delve deeper into Black Knight's world, Fox has packaged it in special edition armor. Feature-length audio commentary by director Gil Junger is buttressed by Martin Lawrence's scene specific commentary. There are deleted scenes with optional commentary, several featurettes, outtakes, storyboard comparisons and theatrical trailers.


Any Day Danny Kaye
The wonderful comedy of Danny Kaye comes from a sweet source, making it live for audiences of all ages. Patter songs and graceful dances are part of Kaye's world. Click on the image for Any Day Danny Kaye.

Take a look at the merry images of America's gift to the  movies: Hollywood Musical Posters are  featured from The Movie Poster Archive. 

Some like it Hot/ A, C

Marilyn Monroe wriggles and shakes her way as Sugar Cane to iconic perfection. Bily Wilder and co writer Diamond concoct some of the snappiest, slightly licentious, dialogue this side of Preston Sturges. 

ISF Monitor Calibrations in the Tristate New York area. Lots of hardware info and frequent hardware peaks from video expert Kevin Miller. They may be judgmental, but that's the point, isn't it. Lots of DVD reviews plus news and more.

Mystery writer Fred Hunter digs into classic films on DVD. Check out his insightful reviews at The Classics on DVD.

DVDLink homepage
DVD links, information about Web specials, news, Site reviews.

DVD Demystified
makes it all clear. The official Internet DVD FAQ for the Usenet newsgroups.