The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Justin & the Knights of Valour | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Justin & the Knights of Valour

Justin endeavors to become a knight and save his kingdom.

Directed by: Manuel Sicilia
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Freddie Highmore, Antonio Banderas, Olivia Williams, Tamsin Egerton, Charles Dance, Julie Walters, Rupert Everett, Alfred Molina, James Cosmo, David Walliams

Young Justin (an irritating Freddie Highmore) dreams of becoming a Knight and following in his grandfather’s footsteps, but Knights have been made illegal in the kingdom by the vapid Queen (Olivia Williams). When the kingdom comes under threat from the dastardly Heraclio, the last of the great knights who has turned to the dark side, the weedy Justin ventures to seek a legendary Knight school, run by three sage-like old men, so he can wear a shiny suit of armor, save the kingdom and impress the local barmaid.
Woefully derivative, 'Justin & The Knights of Valour' is a Spanish/British co-production (Antonio Banderas' name is above the title) which is a hotch-potch of 'Shrek', 'Brave', 'Tangled' and plenty of other, far superior, animated films. While it will serve as a distraction to the very young, boys particularly, due to an abundance of sword fights, it falls way short when it comes to wit, visual inventiveness or charm.
All clichés are present and correct; cowardly latin lothario, camp villain voiced by Rupert Everett, ageing warrior who passes on his teachings to unpromising pupil, a wizard voiced by Charles Dance and a local barmaid who has more charm than a vain princess and in the end manages to win Justin’s heart. 
But it’s a fairytale, or it’s meant to be, so it’s supposed to have clichés but, like the rest of the film, they just pad out interminably long sword fights or montages of Justin getting knocked down and getting back up again. If only the same could be said for the audience. 
Everything about this film feels rushed; the animation, particularly in pointless 3D, is sloppy and unengaging, the music is unnoticeable and the dialogue bereft of quips or wit. There is also the incredibly annoying over-the-top Irish accent of Saoirse Ronan, which is truly bizarre, considering she’s, well, Irish.
It drags on for what seems a lot longer than its 90 minute running time, and if this is the best that pan-European co-productions can come up with, PIXAR won’t exactly be losing any sleep.

Ruairi Kavanagh