Blockbuster math does not add up in 'First Knight'

By Andrew Coan

Arizona Summer Wildcat

"First Knight", starring Richard Gere and Sean Connery, sounds like a pretty good film at first. Unfortunately, it's a total waste of time.

Its glamour shots of Richard Gere being tattered and heroic as Lancelot, Sean Connery acting kingly and proud as King Arthur, and Julia Ormond . well, actually acting.

The film doesn't work for a number of reasons. First of all, it has no substance. This is primarily due to a weak and meandering plot, bad scripting for the characters and a general sense that the producers felt that the caliber of actors should be enough to guarantee the greatness of this film. The weak plot is hard to get past, but the bad writing cripples the film that much more.

The film also never allows time for any characters to bond. This hurts the film badly. Because none of the characters are given any time whatsoever to make connections on-screen, it becomes very hard to sympathize with any of the situations that come up in their lives. It's not just that the character development is weak, it's also the fact that you need a character to develop in the first place.

The final nail in this film's coffin is Richard Gere. Gere is a passable actor, but he plays Lancelot with all the depth of a slice of toast. Gere's performance is a lesson in what bad casting can do to a film. Gere's reading is shallow, and he plays Lancelot as a loner who does things only by chance. This negates all of the character's heroics. It makes Lancelot superficial, only following his sword and his hormones as he aimlessly wanders through the film. It's a tragedy that such a multi-layered character be reduced to another wandering loner Lancelot should be so much more.

The only redeeming factor that "First Knight" has going for it is Julia Ormond. Ormond is best known as Adian Quinn's wife in "Legends of the Fall" She's breathtaking as Guinivere, and is one of the most talented performers to come out of this decade so far. She has a presence that captivates and she refuses to be dismissed as just another pretty face. Ormand delivers a very intelligent and empowered Guinivere. As such, she is really the only character to rise above the weak plot and really shine.

Sean Connery is good as Arthur, but he can't overcome the bad material. While he is very regal, his character never strides toward anything more. It's a shame because with a better script, maybe one that stayed a little closer to the original Arthurian legends perhaps, Connery could have made an incredible Arthur.

And "First Knight" could have been a great movie. But could have been just isn't worth the price of admission.

"First Knight" is playing at the Cineplex Odeon El Dorado and the Century Park 16 theaters.

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