Prince Valiant

PRINCE VALIANT might be best noted today as featuring an early performance from rising star Katherine Heigl as the lovely Princess Ilene. I say rising star, because she is a much, much better actress now than she was in PRINCE VALIANT. As for her co-stars…

As for the plot, Prince Valiant, our obviously named hero, takes the place of Sir Gawain (a knight responsible for one of the great poems in English literature) on a quest to recover Excalibur from the nasty Vikings, led by Morgan Le Fay. Along the way we learn that Prince Valiant's humble background might conceal his true origins… Along the way he and Heigl exchange the worst romantic dialogue I've ever heard with absolutely no chemistry all the while they are constantly getting into sexually awkward positions (like having her crotch thrust in Valiant's face> Hilarious! all women want is for this guy to rub their clitoris with just about anything!)

On the one hand PRINCE VALIANT is a lot of fun. It anachronistically mixes pretty much any myth which fits into the idea of "medieval" including Lewis Carrol's "Jabberwocky." OIt also has some amusing 1997 special effects including fire balls are other sparkly things which are employed effectively enough to make the film seem like it had a bigger budget than it really did (at least I HOPE that's the case). Unfortunately, some of these gizmos are poorly employed such as when two logs smash into some knights on horse back Ewok-style; the only problem is that one log completely misses its target and yet the knight still flops off his horse. Oops.

But while that can all be claimed in the name of hammy goodness, the problem with PRINCE VALIANT (and the comic book upon which it was based) is its blatant xenophobia. From the land of "Thule" the Vikings/Barbarians are evil through and through and walk around speaking in French accents. Meanwhile the Britons have, well, they have Prince Valiant and King Arthur! The British have heroic last stands, the Vikings plot ambushes. And then there's the whole perpetuation of chivalric stereotypes which have never seemed more moronic than in this film.

So on the one hand all of that good make for some great guilty pleasure, but at the same time it reminds us that some people actually think such a way of life was a good thing, and what's more that it provides a great analogy for our own current state of affairs. Does America really need another PRINCE VALIANT? I'm not so sure…

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