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Lost Knight

Hollywood (and Gere, and Connery) turn Arthurian legend into Arthurian mush

Last on the list of incompetents is Jerry Zucker, who would probably make a great director if he decided to specialize in infomercials. His compositions do little more than showcase his stars. He spends $50 million on sets, costumes and locations, then shoots half his movie in close-up through a telephoto lens, which focuses on actors' faces but blurs everything and everyone around them. The film looks flat and washed-out and boring. Even the special effects are substandard; a matte shot of Gere and Ormond plunging over a waterfall seems snipped from an old episode of Land of the Lost.

Despite its visual clunkiness, the picture might have been a guilty pleasure anyway if Zucker had the faintest idea how to move the plot along. But scene after scene drags on and on, leading nowhere; supporting characters are introduced with great fussiness, then disappear for a good hour or more; agonizing choices are prepared for but never actually made; and massive battle sequences flash across the screen in a disconnected blur of flying arrows, glinting swords, lurching horses and dying knights whose fates can't move us because their faces were never matched with names or personalities.

This is the kind of movie that assumes you'll follow it anywhere it may go, but doesn't invest enough wit or detail to make the trip worthwhile -- the kind of movie that backs itself into narrative corners, then gets out of them by magically painting a new door on the wall and sneaking right on through. It's possible that viewers are so starved for romance they'll love the film anyway. I hope not. Any film that takes as many emotional and narrative shortcuts as First Knight doesn't deserve love. Or even respect.

First Knight.
Directed by Jerry Zucker. With Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond.
Rated PG-13.
132 minutes.

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