Title: Justin and the Knights of Valor
Director: Manuel Sicilia
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Antonio Banderas, Charles Dance, Rupert Everett, Alfred Molina,
Julie Walters, Olivia Williams and Saoirse Ronan
Running time: 96 min, Rated PG, Available 07.08.14
Special Features: None
Justin (Freddy Highmore) is a geeky redheaded teenager who aspires to become a knight like his legendary grandfather, Sir Roland. Justin’s father on the other hand wants him to stick to his studies and to become a lawyer since knights were banished by the queen and replaced by lawyers to keep the peace and make rules everyday that make the townspeople confused and miserable. Justin is determined to follow his grandfather’s advice and follow his own dream, he starts on a mission to find some old knights and train to become one. On his journey to the tower of wisdom, he meets the spunky barmaid Thalia (Saoirse Ronan), the “wizard” Melquiades (David Walliams), and the handsome Sir Clorex (Antonio Banderas).
Soon Justin discovers that a banished knight named Sir Heraclio (Mark Strong) and his flamboyant sidekick Sota (Rupert Everett) are putting together an army to overthrow the queen while wielding Justin’s grandfather’s sword. Justin must gather an army of his own to defeat these rogue knights and save the kingdom.
The Good: The animation is the only thing that this film has got going for them. If I was told Pixar wasn’t involved, I would’ve called you a big fat liar. It did have a good message about being true to yourself, following your dreams despite what people tell you, but always have a back-up plan in case it all doesn’t work out. I liked Sota, the villains sidekick, but at times he was a bit too much. I mean this is a kids movie and even kids would tell Rupert Everett to dial it back.
The Bad: Too many characters, the pacing was slow and tiresome, and the story was predictable. Justin’s dad wants him to be a lawyer – were lawyers a thing back in medieval times? I know this is supposed to be an alternate universe type story…but still, that was kind of a lame alternative to being a knight.
It’s a valiant effort that doesn’t quite deliver. Kids may like the animation, but the story does a painful faceplant.
Total Rating: C-
Reviewed by: JM Willis