18 September 2013 | TheLittleSongbird
Could have been so much better considering the talent involved
The main attraction was the voice cast, full of talented people and what a line-up. The trailer wasn't really all that promising, it was of the competently animated but thinly plotted with flat jokes kind of animated film. Unfortunately, Justin and the Knights of Valour as a film wasn't that much better than its trailer. Was it completely terrible? No. Justin and the Knights of Valour doesn't have amazing animation but it is very competent and colourful with nice textures. The only not-so-good thing in this regard was the dragon, too bumblingcrocodile-like in design. It's pretty much the same with the music, rousing and pleasant to listen to if not particularly memorable. Freddie Highmore is a likable protagonist and the wise monks played by Charles Dance, James Cosmo and Barry Humphries are a nice touch and provide what spark there is to the story.
Was Justin and the Knights of Valour disappointing? Yes it was, one of the weakest animated films of 2013, or at least what has been seen by me so far.
The voice cast are talented but their talents are not used well and most didn't seem to be connecting with the material. Saiorse Ronan brought some sass to her role but often sounded forced, Antonio Banderas sounded uninterested in a pale imitation of Puss in Boots role(sadly that was true of Alfred Molina as well), Rupert Everett camps it up and over-compensated and David Walliams is painfully unfunny and is just annoying. Mark Strong was reasonably good, but he had material that was beneath him and suffered from a villainous character that was poorly written and underdeveloped.
They were let down by a rather dreary script that is laden with jokes that are flat in alternative to witty and dialogue that is rather lacking in life.
As well as a thin story that didn't do anything imaginative or fresh with a predictable premise. The pacing felt stretched out and dull with the writing as vapid as it was, and the film ends on an unsurprising and somewhat syrupy note. The archetypal characters lack colour and interesting personalities, so it's not easy to root for them. They're poorly developed too, Strong's character was written as almost feeling like an afterthought and seems to be just there as a form of obligatory conflict.
All in all a very disappointing animated family film, there was a lot of potential but the film does little with it. This is of course a subjective personal opinion- and to be taken with a pinch of salt- from a 21 year old who adores animated films and is aware of who they're mainly aimed at. That's not attention-seeking, merely to stop any stereotyping, condescension or parental ignorance(like the old, annoying and unnecessarily patronising "it's a kids film don't be so cynical). 4/10 Bethany Cox