Black Knight (2001)
A Different Dark Knight
In 1889 Mark Twain's story "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" was first published, it tells the story of a Connecticut Engineer who some how ends up going back in time to the court of King Arthur. That story has been adapted into a few movies and musicals over the years and whilst elements are changed it is the basis of "Black Knight" starring Martin Lawrence. Here we have an L.A. resident, a worker in a medieval theme park who finds himself travelling back in time to medieval England where confusion abounds as well as some heroics. Now the fact it uses a familiar storyline isn't a problem, nope the problem with "Black Knight" is that it is lame with a lot of humour which is simply not funny and a waste of Lawrence's talents.
Medieval Theme Park worker Jamal Walker (Martin Lawrence - Big Momma's House) finds himself miraculously transported to medieval England when he tried to retrieve a necklace from a moat. Initially thinking he has come to in the nearby rival's theme park he discovers that his thoughts are wrong and somehow he has gone back in time. Not only that he finds himself in the middle of a plot by rebels to put the Queen back on the throne. Despite wanting to keep out of trouble Jamal finds himself getting stuck in and teaching these medieval folk some modern L.A. fighting skills from football tackling to wrestling slam downs.
So anyone who knows their Mark Twain stories or knows their movies and musicals will know that the "Black Knight" basically reworks the familiar confusion comedy of someone finding themselves back in medieval times. And so when we watch Jamal miraculously surface in a lake in medieval England what follows is for the most formula. Being a theme park worker he first thinks he's in a very authentic theme park, he has a run in with an evil knight, charms a couple of maidens and convinces them he is something he isn't. All of which has been done before and often better and to be frank the subplot we get offered about the Queen wanting the throne back adds little to the story other than a reason for the big final battle.
But the truth of the matter is that the "Black Knight" is a movie all about the humour of Jamal being in medieval times and bringing some modern LA style to the past. Unfortunately most of this humour from an excruciating dance scene to having his own logo and calling himself Skywalker is not funny. In fact in the entire movie I don't think I laughed at a single joke because they were either predictable or simply unfunny. Although I have to say that I was surprised that there wasn't more attitude humour with much of the jokes being simple gags rather than Jamal getting up in someone's face.
And to be frank Martin Lawrence can do so much better that the "Black Knight" because not once does it play to his strengths giving him daft humour which would be unfunny in anyone's hands. It is not just Lawrence's talents which are wasted because Tom Wilkinson looks very uneasy playing Sir Knolte of Marlborough and you almost get a sense that he was wondering why he agreed to appear. The only semi decent performance comes from Vincent Regan as the evil Percival because whilst visually he looks a little too similar to Rufus Sewell he does at least make Percival menacing.
What this all boils down to is that "Black Knight" is quite simply a weak update of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Not only is it a waste of talent but remarkably unfunny despite being absolutely piled with jokes.
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