Genre: CG Animation
Director: Manuel Sicilia
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Freddie Highmore, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Olivia Williams, Rupert Everett, Julie Walters, Alfred Molina, Charles Dance, Michael Culkin, James Cosmo, Barry Humphries, David Walliams
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://www.justinandtheknightsofvalour.com/

Opening Day: 14 November 2013 

Synopsis: STIN (Freddie Highmore) lives in a kingdom where bureaucrats rule and knights have been ousted. His dream is to become one of the Knights of Valour, but his father REGINALD (Alfred Molina), the chief counsel to the QUEEN (Olivia Williams), wants his son to follow in his footsteps. JUSTIN leaves home and embarks on a quest to become a knight. Along the way he meets the beautiful, feisty TALIA (Saoirse Ronan), a quirky wizard called MELQUIADES (David Walliams), the handsome SIR CLOREX (Antonio Banderas) and is mentored by three monks; BLUCHER (James Cosmo), LEGANTIR (Charles Dance) and BRAULIO (Barry Humphries), who teach and test him in the ancient ways of the Knights of Valour. JUSTIN must rise to the challenge quickly when banished former knight SIR HERACLIO (Mark Strong) and his army, led by SOTA (Rupert Everett), return and threaten to destroy the Kingdom.

Movie Review:

Made in Spain by Kandor Graphics and voiced by a cohort of English actors, Justin and the Knights of Valour is a poor man’s version of How to Train Your Dragon and Brave combined.

Set in a medieval kingdom that favors the rule of law, the boy from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Freddie Highmore voiced the lead character, Justin whom against his father’s (Alfred Molina) wish, prefers to be a knight then being a lawyer. Determined to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, Justin set off in his quest to be a knight. Under the tutelage of three wise monks with a pending war against the kingdom by a ruthless banished knight, Sir Heraclio (Mark Strong), will Justin able to complete his quest in time to save the kingdom?  

On the outside,Justin and the Knights of Valour screams of medieval adventure, swashbuckling action and mysterious sorcerer magic but the script by Matthew Jacobs and director Manuel Sicilia is a little too mundane for both adults and kids to sit through. One mistake leads to another and the script never offers much to entertain with the exception of a gross gag after a seemingly long introduction.

The biggest problem with Justin and the Knights of Valour is its inability to do a good copy despite the filmmakers’ very genuine attempt to do so. There’s a fast food type of restaurant situated in the medieval kingdom that seems to be a reject from Far, Far Away. And there’s a big fat crocodile rigged up as a dragon for Justin’s training purposes. At least Hiccup has a real dragon with a missing tail but Justin has the worst. This certainly spells disaster not adventure. And no, watching an overweight croc lumbering around isn’t that funny after all since the story actually promises the presence of dragons earlier.

Talking about magic, there isn’t any either but Justin did managed to meet quite a number of weirdoes along the way. The schizophrenic, spilt-personality magician by the name of Melquiades (David Walliams) who just can’t stop rambling for most of the time, a fake knight voiced by producer and actor Antonio Banderas who is much better as a cat in Puss-In-Boots than this absolutely redundant role and finally Justin’s true love, a feisty warrior girl, Talia (Saoirse Ronan). Who can forget the evil knights as well, the obligated villain of this decade, Mark Strong as Sir Heraclio with his partner, the feminine fashion conscious Sota voiced by Rupert Everett.

While it’s still a long way to go comparing it with a Pixar or DreamWorks title, the animation quality of Justin surprisingly holds up pretty well on the big screen. The texture and detailing are fine except characteristic wise, the humans look like gloop of plastic on closer look.

On the whole,Justin and the Knights of Valour is a decent, uplifting animation for the entire family. However if you are a devoted fan of How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek and Brave then it’s probably best that you stay away from this flick. 

Movie Rating:  

(Strictly filler material until the next major animation title to arrive)

Review by Linus Tee

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