First Knight

Movie review by
Erika Milvy, Common Sense Media
First Knight Movie Poster Image
Hokey, star-studded take on King Arthur legend.
  • PG-13
  • 1995
  • 133 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Issues of justice and decency are at the forefront of characters' thoughts and actions throughout. Many instances in which characters must choose between self-interest and decency, betrayal or loyalty, personal happiness, and the greater good. Arthur's former knight, Malagant, has chosen a path of vengeance and disloyalty. Lancelot and Guinevere must also weigh their personal interests with their values, their country's interest, and their allegiance to their king. Even King Arthur eventually must weigh his need for revenge and personal satisfaction with the forgiveness and the needs of his people.

Violence

No outright gore, but oodles of old-fangled violence: vanquishment, thrashing, maiming, spearing, arson, and all the death and destruction than one army of ruthless warlords can do innocent villagers. Mostly, women and children are traumatized and orphaned and widowed -- not killed themselves. The wide assortment of medieval sling-shots, flaming bow and arrows, mallets, and other weapons are generally violent but not vividly awful.

Sex

Overtones of erotic suggestiveness and light bodice ripping, but most of the sexual energy hinges on desire and not consummation.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that First Night is a retelling of the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot love triangle that has action, romance, and scads of bloody battle sequences, death, maiming, and other assorted medieval savagery. Still, its more quantity than "quality" -- expect lots of red swords and red-drenched clothing, but no gory displays of visible entrails, decapitations, or amputation.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 year old Written byTsion September 14, 2009

Not Bad, but Not Good Either...

FIRST KNIGHT isn't a bad movie, it's just disappointing. It puts out a decent effort, but it misses the mark. The love triangle of Arthur-Guinevere-... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBreaden Hoffmaster December 4, 2015

"Is this your sword?" -Lancelot

Up there with "Jack and The Giant Slayer." First Knight is a great take on the King Arthur legend, and it's full of awesome battles, adventure, a... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FIRST KNIGHT, Lancelot (Richard Gere) is first seen to be a sword-shark of sorts -- challenging contenders to duels and living as footloose rambler -- until he sets his gaze on the breathtaking Guinevere (Julia Ormond) who is to be wed to King Arthur (Sean Connery). After gallantly saving her from an ambush, Lancelot follows Guinevere to Camelot where he impresses Arthur with his skill and dexterity. Then Lancelot proves himself once again when he saves Guinevere after she's kidnapped by Arthur's nemesis Malagant. He is knighted by Arthur, only to be charged with treason shortly after when he catches his wife and Lancelot in a heavy lip-lock. This makes putting kingdom first more difficult for Arthur and Lancelot when Malagant's army storms the village and surrounds Arthur.

Is it any good?

Sticklers for any semblance of historical accuracy will be exasperated by this Fantasy Island version of the Arthurian legend. Fans of credible acting will likewise be irked at the box-office minded casting and sub-par performances. First Knight appears to be a vanity project in which Sean Connery is striving for some regal gravitas and Gere is stretching his matinee idol wings by delving -- rather lamely -- into period drama. He's got half an English accent going, and even his scripted lines are utterly anachronistic. (To be fair, his Lancelot is aptly smug.) The age difference between Arthur and Guinevere -- and their lack of chemistry and apparent love -- dilutes the thorniness and anguish of Guinevere and Lancelot's betrayal.

But while the film offers nothing but cardboard characterizations and awful dialog, the action sequences rouse even the most cynical viewer. Gere's Lancelot is the Jackie Chan of medieval action figures, fighting an army of swordsmen single-handedly with dazzling dagger tricks and nonstop awesome wallopings. There's also a satisfying amount of horse chase scenes, waterfall leaping, and longing glances. But with the feast of cinematic alternatives in the genre of Camelot action flicks, why chose this corny afterthought?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the enduring legend of King Arthur. Was he a historic or mythical figure -- or perhaps a king whose life was embellished for literary purposes?

  • Which version of his story do you like best? The one from books such as The Once and Future King? The movies like this one with flashy stars? The cartoons like The Sword in the Stone? Or even the comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

  • Families can talk about First Knight's violence. What sort of impact does it have on viewers? Does it enhance the sotry? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love historical movies

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