Who would have thought that the Middle Ages could be so much fun? A Knight's Tale takes the story of a knight's assistant who wants to be more and sets it against the thundering machismo of a classic rock beat. Female audiences will appreciate the gorgeous costumes and romantic intrigue that brings to mind Ever After, that dizzying fairy tale spectacle starring an empowered Drew Barrymore. But where Ever After shies away from violence for the most part, Knight's Tale embraces it.
The world of 13th-century jousting is full of bruisings, whackings, jabbings and, of course, full-tilt impalings, which we're treated to pretty much throughout. Even if you cover your eyes, the sound effects -- full of thuds, screams and gurgles -- effectively convey the medieval mayhem that helped pass the time in many a royal court. The Patriot's Heath Ledger is appropriately handsome but is frequently upstaged by Paul Bettany as a young, salty-mouthed Geoffrey Chaucer. But neither one stands a chance near brooding, wicked, evil, delectable Rufus Sewell as the requisite bad guy. Unfortunately Rufus isn't onscreen nearly as much as he ought to be. Of the girls, it's the boyish Kate (Laura Fraser) who's a lot more fun than princessy Shanynn Sossaman. All in all, a great movie for a Friday night.