Black Knight appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. All in all, the picture looked terrific, with very few concerns on display.
Sharpness appeared excellent. The movie consistently presented a nicely crisp and distinct presence, as I saw virtually no soft or fuzzy material. The film remained accurate from start to finish. Jagged edges and moiré effects seemed absent, and I also witnessed no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, a speck or two popped up, but otherwise the film stayed clean and fresh at all times.
Knight featured a nicely naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated those tones well. Colors looked clean and vibrant throughout the movie, and they showed fine vibrancy and accuracy without any noise, bleeding, or other issues. Black levels were deep and dark, while shadow detail came across as appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. Overall, I found Black Knight to provide a very fine visual presentation.
The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed almost as good as the picture. The soundfield focused mainly on the forward spectrum, but it opened up quite nicely at times. Within the forward domain, the mix provided a broad and engaging range of audio. Music offered very solid stereo imaging and presence, while effects appeared accurately placed and they blended together cleanly. Panning seemed natural and clear, and the forward spectrum came across as realistic and lively.
Much of the time the rear speakers mainly bolstered the front channels, especially in regard to the score. On other occasions, the surrounds added general ambience, and they came to life quite well during some of the more action-oriented bits. Split-surround usage could be solid, as elements such as arrows and horses moved neatly about the rear. The activity didn’t match action flick levels, but I felt it outdid the average comedy.
Audio quality also seemed very positive. Dialogue appeared natural and crisp, without any edginess or issues related to intelligibility. I heard a few awkwardly dubbed lines, but most of the speech integrated well. Effects sounded accurate and clear, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music probably fared best of all, as the score seemed bright and dynamic throughout the movie. I was quite impressed with the reproduction of the music and with bass response as a whole; the mix displayed tight and rich low-end sound at all times. I went with a “B+” grade because I thought the track lacked the consistent sonic ambition to merit an “A-“, but it was a close call; I easily could have gone with the higher mark. Whatever the case may be, Black Knight offered a very strong soundtrack that impressed me much more than I expected.
This special edition release provides a slew of extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director Gil Junger. Overall, he offered a fairly decent track. On the negative side, Junger gushes too much, especially about the film’s lead actor. He goes on and on about how funny Lawrence was - it got a little nauseating at times. In addition, Junger appeared a little too in love with his own movie; that’s not a tone that works well.
Otherwise, however, Junger gave us some fairly interesting material. He rarely let up the chatty pace, and he contributed a variety of useful notes, mostly about the technical side of things. Junger really got into surprisingly compelling discussions of camera lenses and special effects, and since he comes from TV, he seemed genuinely enthralled with the topics; Junger appeared actively excited about the work done on the film. Ultimately, the commentary wasn’t great, but it came across as reasonably entertaining and fulfilling.
In addition, we find a scene-specific commentary from actor Martin Lawrence. He speaks during only two segments: “Meet Sir Knolte” - which runs five minutes, eight seconds - and “Saddle Sores” - which goes for two minutes, 54 seconds. The presentation shows the letterboxed film image, while Lawrence appears in a small video insert in the bottom right corner of the screen. For “Knolte”, he offers very little useful material; other than his indication that someone else crawled out of the lake, he gives us virtually no worthwhile information. During “Sores”, Lawrence provides some moderately interesting notes about working with a horse, but it also seems fairly bland.
The Outtakes feature 101 seconds of unused footage. Though not hilarious, this footage seems more entertaining than most of these sort of reels. The best segment comes last, when Lawrence insists on using his own line for one scene.
Next we discover two featurettes. A Timeless Friendship lasts eight minutes and 35 seconds, and it discusses the movie’s three main heroic characters: Jamal, Knolte, and Victoria. The program combines movie clips, a few shots from the set, and interviews with director Junger, executive producer Peaches Davis, producer Paul Schiff, and actors Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson, and Marsha Thomason. We learn a few decent notes about the participants and their interactions, and Lawrence launches a couple of funny lines, but for the most part, this show seems dull. It includes a lot of the usual praise for the different performers and appears short on compelling details.
Pratfalls & Parapets runs for six minutes and 40 seconds as it concentrates on the film’s stunts. It follows the same format as the prior featurette and provides interviews with Junger, Schiff, stunt coordinator Ernie Orsatti, and Lawrence. Though too brief to offer any depth, this show is much more entertaining than “Friendship. Mainly it covers stunts in regard to both work with the horses and the fight sequences. It includes some good little notes and merits a look.
The DVD includes two Storyboard to Scene Comparisons. We get “Rope-a-Dope” (three minutes, 38 seconds) and “The Coliseum” (59 seconds). These place the nearly square-shaped boards in the top part of the frame and the 2.35:1 movie runs in the bottom. Boards don’t do a lot for me, but these should interest fans of the form.
Construction gives us a four-minute and five-second featurette. While it includes a few movie snippets, it mainly focuses on material from the set and interviews. We hear from production designer Leslie Dilley and Junger as they discuss the various sets. Dilley offers the most information and even takes us on a tour of the village. It’s a very useful piece that provides some solid details,
Up next we find three deleted scenes. These last between 55 seconds and one minute, 55 seconds for a total of four minutes, 12 seconds of material. Though brief, each of these actually is pretty amusing and worth a look; one even includes a cameo from tennis pro Serena Williams.
The clips can be viewed with or without commentary from director Junger. He offers some interesting notes but doesn’t always explain why the material didn’t make the cut. Junger omits that information for the first snippet. Still, his remarks seem useful overall.
In Choreography, we get a three-minute featurette that concentrates on the banquet dance sequence. Similar to the earlier programs, it mainly mixes behind the scenes footage with interview tidbits from Junger and choreographer Paula Abdul. It’s a good little piece that gives us some informative details about that segment.
Lastly, the DVD includes some promotional materials. We find two theatrical trailers for Knight itself as well as additional clips. We also discover promos for upcoming theatrical releases Unfaithful and Minority Report.
Maybe someday someone will convince me that Martin Lawrence is a major comedic talent, but it won’t happen today. Actually, Black Knight seemed a little more amusing than the average Lawrence flick, but that remains faint praise. As a whole, the movie appeared stale and flat, and Lawrence provided an over-the-top presence that failed to mesh with the rest of the flick. The DVD offered solid picture and sound plus some reasonably good extras. Martin Lawrence fans should like this package, but others probably will want to skip it.