Justin And The Knights Of Valour

Justin And The Knights Of Valour

**

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Despite being clothed in an armour constructed out of ideas from previous animated hits - most notably, Brave, Shrek and Puss In Boots - Justin And The Knights Of Valour never feels like more than a pretender to the throne.

This is all the more surprising when you consider the talent involved. Writer Matthew Jacobs has the likes of The Emperor's New Groove on his CV and there's nothing shabby about a voice cast that includes Freddie Highmore, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, James Cosmo and Antonio Banderas (who also produced). Still, despite the chunky and textured animation from Spanish-based Kandor Graphics (although, don't waste your cash on the 3D), Justin is let down by by its basic story, which is both overly familiar and too complex for its own good.


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Somewhere far, far away Justin (Highmore) lives with his lawyer dad (Alfred Molina) in a kingdom where the law rules and knights are banned. This makes life pretty dull for young Justin, who dreams of following in his famous knight grandad's sabatons. Fortunately, his grandma (Julie Walters, who else?) is on-hand to supply him with a quest and in a bid to escape studying law and impress the going-to-get-hers-before-the-end-of-the-runtime Lara (Tamsin Egerton), he heads out. Along the way, he meets the feisty Talia (Ronan), fraudulent knight Sir Clorex (Banderas, in a perfect replication of his Puss In Boots vocals), dozy split-personality wizard Melquiades (David Walliams) and the extremely underwritten villains of the piece Heraclio (Strong) and his camp sidekick Sota (Rupert Everett).

The legalese set-up feels weak and is likely to baffle the younger audiences this film is aimed at, even before their parents start to consider whether they want their kids to take on the message that the rule of law is a bad thing. Like so many films this year, it also suffers from a lack of a properly fleshed out bad guy. Heraclio's desire for the kingdom plays second fiddle to Justin's random roaming and he never really generates a sense of malevolence. Everett meanwhile, may be having fun camping it up for all he is worth but neither he nor Walliams' Merlin-in-meltdown are particularly funny. Even Banderas' character feels like a cheap knock-off who is not fit to polish the boots of Puss.

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There is some fun to be had when Justin tries to earn his spurs under the tutelage of ageing knights Legantir (Charles Dance), Braulo (Barry Humphries) and Blucher (James Cosmo) but it's the merest glimpse of what might have been, while the all-too-predictable ending comes coated in syrup.

Reviewed on: 09 Sep 2013
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A boy embarks on a quest to become a knight
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