Justin and the Knights of Valour (3D) (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/09/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Justin and the Knights of Valour is brightly animated and features a decent voice cast but the story is dull, the direction is plodding and the script lacks anything approaching wit or invention.

What's it all about?
Directed by Manuel Sicilia and produced by Antonio Banderas, Justin and the Knights of Valour is a Spanish animated adventure with a British voice cast. Set in the fantasy mediaeval land of Gabalonia, the film centres on young Justin (Freddie Highmore), who dreams of becoming a knight like his famous grandfather. There's only one problem: knights have been outlawed in the kingdom, which is now overrun by petty-minded bureaucrats and jobsworths.

Spurred on by his kindly grandmother (Julie Walters), Justin defies his lawyer father (Alfred Molina) and sets off on a quest to find three monks (one of whom looks like Sean Connery in Highlander, making this the second film this week to feature an animated version of Sean Connery) to tutor him in the ways of knighthood. Meanwhile, Justin's rich schoolfriend Lara (Tamsin Egerton) is kidnapped by fake knight Sir Clorex (Antonio Banderas) and evil Sir Heraclio (Mark Strong) is hatching a plot to overthrow the Queen (Olivia Williams) and take over the kingdom.

The Good
The filmmakers clearly intended Justin and the Knights of Valour to be a blend of Shrek and How To Train Your Dragon. To be fair, they get some of the way there on both counts – the brightly coloured animation is nice to look at and the character designs are appealing, if uninspired, while the voice cast do a decent job throughout, particularly Freddie Highmore and Saoirse Ronan as his feisty friend Talia.

The Bad
The problem is that the story and dialogue in Justin and the Knights of Valour are extremely dull, completely lacking anything even remotely resembling wit or invention, unless you count a crocodile with a flying machine strapped to its back and even that doesn't manage to raise a laugh. Similarly, the direction is painfully sluggish, with underwhelming action sequences and a seemingly confused approach to the actual storytelling; there are several repetitive, superfluous scenes that serve no purpose other than to wheel on yet another starry member of the already overflowing voice cast.

Worth seeing?
Though not the worst animated film out this week (that dubious honour goes to Scottish production Sir Billi), Justin and the Knights of Valour is nonetheless a disappointing animated adventure that's let down by a dull script, plodding direction and a general lack of laughs.

Film Trailer

Justin and the Knights of Valour (3D) (PG)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 12:28

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