Director; David Lowery. Starring; Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton. Rated R. Color. 130 Minutes.
It happens every few years. There is a top-to-bottom ridiculous pile of pretentious nonsense that comes along and for some reason most critics go crazy for it. Not me. Walking out of the theater, several people were muttering things that can be summed up with the phrase “Am I missing something?”. The answer is EMPHATICALLY no, you are not missing a damn thing. I am certain of this one being awful and ridiculously overrated. “The Green Knight” is completely devoid of substance while at the same time mostly concerned with telling itself that it is intellectual. I will promise you however there will be one good element and two individual moments that will make you smile said about this movie by the end of this review.
A total miscast Dev Patel stars as Sir Gaiwan. I am a fan of Patel, but his casting is just the first element of bad in this picture critics love for some reason. The story is a strange wannabe psychedelic version of the classic Arthurian tale “Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight”. We start off with Sir Gaiwan arriving at the court of King Arthur (Sean Harris). The young lad is not a full blown knight of the round table, rather a part of the royal family as his unnamed Mother (Sharita Choudhury) is the sister of the king. Mother is into some strange form of witchcraft, but that part is both nonsensical and not fleshed out story wise at all.
Sir Gaiwan is encouraged to be more brave by his uncle when the legendary Green Knight comes storming in during Christmas dinner. He is a menacing shade of green ‘rot’ with a face made up of twigs and bark and joints that creak with every slow motion movement. He is the epitomization of death and nature I think? This sudden emergence of the villain wielding a giant axe is certainly unique and intriguing, at first. Too bad the viewer does not yet know the slow motion entrance was just a taste of director David Lowery’s obsession with the slowest of slow motion elements possible. Is this supposed to be the art house version of “300”?
With the seasoned knights afraid of the Green Knight’s challenge to face Arthur’s greatest warrior, Sir Gaiwan steps up and chops off the opponents head. Too bad the tree man is not dead as he picks up his own head, telling Gaiwan that next Christmas the menacing warrior will be destined to return the head chopping blow to his foe, because that is how chivalry works I guess? Thus begins a ridiculous journey for our main character to find his courage before reuniting with his tree bound foe in order to return him the axe, and of course get beheaded himself.
I will let you from that point soak up one of the most boring journeys in film history, complete with some of the dumbest metaphors and references possible. The characters that always pop up out of nowhere on the road in fantasies such as this make zero sense, highlighted by three truly mythical gems. First, The Lord (Joel Edgerton) suddenly picking up Sir Gaiwan and bringing him into his home when he has absolutely zero context in the story yet somehow is a key to Sir Gaiwan’s, I don’t know, realization of one’s true path? Second, The Fox. Obviously representing the inner traveler, The Fox is cute for most of the way through. And then, he starts talking out of the blue and that is where you lose me. Finally, we have Alicia Vikander playing two characters, Essel and The Ley.. The former is Gaiwan’s pixie lover from the beginning of his journey and the latter being the shady wife of The Lord. Is it supposed to represent Sir Gaiwen’s previous follies with Essel as he makes his way towards royalty by running into the same woman that is of high stature that is The Ley?
And that is the main problem with David Lowery’s latest adventure “The Green Knight”. Explaining and debating complex art pieces is one of my favorite parts of the cinema world. Hell Lowery’s previous film “Ghost Story” was a brilliant reflection on the possibilities of a soul. But you have got to be able to justify the strange with both the movie geeks as well as the average movie goer. Look at director Terence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” for example. It’s confusing and beautiful, but it has a purpose of showing the vastness as well as minute importance of life. “The Green Knight” does not have any underlying purpose. This movie is that blank void wall you see at an art exhibit.
I promised to say one good element and two good moments in this film before I finished. The one good element, visually this is a beautiful movie. That is strictly the cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo. Every other element in this film is ugly from top to bottom. Palermo’s work is drowned out by all of the other crap. Now, the two good moments here go hand in hand. The first, seeing Dev Patel’s head FINALLY being chopped off. The second, the ending credits FINALLY rolling and the audience can go home. In conclusion, I would like to quote The New York Post’s Senior Film Critic Johnny Oleksinski from his positive review;
–“It’s a simple tale that could have been told in 20 minutes.”
Too bad the filmmakers did not stick with that concept…
Suck Factor: 7 out of 7 (7 Means Your Movie Really SUCKS!)
The SUCK FACTOR! How it works. We have flipped the switch on the standard ratings system. If you make a masterpiece, “The Godfather” for example, you film receives a perfect 0 SUCKS! It you have made total garbage, such as a Michael Bay movie, you are getting a big 7 SUCKS!