FlixChatter Review: The Green Knight (2021)

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The Arthurian legends has existed for thousands of years, yet its timeless tale still inspires contemporary storytellers to this very day. There have been plenty of interpretation/retelling and the most recent one I watched was the Netflix TV series Cursed (sadly the show isn’t renewed for another season), which focuses on a teenage sorceress who encounters more well-known characters from the legend on her journey, such as Arthur himself, wizard Merlin and knight Lancelot. This time, writer/director David Lowery focuses on a lesser-known character, Sir Gawain. 

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One of the main reasons this new retelling appeals to me is the casting of Dev Patel as Gawain, as I’ve talked about in this post and its follow-up. Right from its opening scene it’s apparent this wouldn’t be your typical Arthurian adaptation. It’s a wide shot of Gawain wearing a crown, sitting on a throne in an empty hall holding a scepter… as the camera zooms in closer to him, his crown is on fire and then his head suddenly burst into flames.

We’re so used to seeing knights as being galant, chivalrous and basically all heroic, but here we see young, disheveled Gawain as anything but. Granted he’s not a knight yet at this point, but even as a regular guy you could say he’s pretty unambitious lazy. We first see him awaken inside a brothel on Christmas day, preferring to stay in bed with his lover Essel than attend mass, much to the chagrin of his mother (Sarita Choudhury). Now, Gawain himself is quite aware he’s no hero. When he’s later summoned by his uncle King Arthur (Sean Harris) and he asks him to tell him a story, he replied that he has none to tell. ‘Yet,’ said sympathetic Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie) who somehow believes in this young man, perhaps more so than Gawain believes in himself.

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But soon his chance to prove himself comes soon enough during a feast at the Round Table with the visit from the mysterious Green Knight. He challenges the king and his knights to a morbid ‘game’ that involves beheading his head to win his magical green axe. The catch is they must travel to the Green Chapel the following Christmas to accept the same blow in return. Gawain ends up taking up the challenge and the film follows the one-year journey to meet his fate. I thought it’s interesting that Lowery actually uses title cards to break some of the eventful moments during the journey, perhaps an homage to how books are broken down in chapters. 

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The film sure isn’t lacking in style and visual panache. Lowery decidedly makes a visual poetry with imaginative camera work, atmospheric tone and gorgeous production design + costumes. DP Andrew Droz Palermo would likely nabs a bunch of awards for his tremendous cinematography here. I always appreciate films that feels authentic and filming on location in Ireland certainly gives that gritty vibe. Now I have mixed feelings about the sound design and score by Daniel Hart though. It does have a haunting quality and fits the tone and visual style really well, but the string-heavy score gets pretty aggravating by the end.

The look of the ginormous green knight himself in particular is really striking and he’s made quite an entrance–and exit–while carrying his own head as he rides his horse. I have to say though, I wish the film weren’t SO dark, though obviously using mostly natural light inside those Medieval castle naturally makes everything look dim and shadowy. For some reason the showing at the local EMAGINE theater I was in was SO dark I could barely make out the details. 

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Yet there’s something magnetic about The Green Knight that keeps me engaged despite some of the baffling scenes (what’s with those naked female giants??) and snail-like pacing. Ironic that the title cards say ‘A Too Quick Year’ as things move pretty slowly, as if we need to ‘earn’ the moral lessons of the story as Gawain does with his quest. It’s truly a testament to Lowery’s unconventional approach to the material and the actors’ performance that I wasn’t bored with it. I read that he added plenty of VFX shots and re-edited the film during pandemic delays, so I’m curious how different the original version was to this final cut. I’m not too familiar with his filmography, but judging from his work here, he’s definitely a talented director with a bold vision and unique style. I wouldn’t call him a visionary yet, I’d need to see more of his work first. The only one I’ve seen is Pete’s Dragon though now I’m curious to check out A Ghost Story which perhaps is most similar in terms of tone to this one.

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The casting is great all around. I’ve mentioned Dev Patel and he just gets better and better since the first time I saw him in Slumdog Millionaire. This isn’t the first time Patel tackles a British literature hero normally reserved for White Anglo-Saxon actors (he’s fantastic as David Copperfield) and I sure hope it isn’t the last. He’s got the charisma and range to believably depict Gawain’s various persona in the film–reckless, vulnerable, callous, etc. He’s also got that inherent likability that makes us root for him despite his vice.

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In the supporting roles, Alicia Vikander is captivating in a dual role as Essel and Lady Bertilak. Her speech concerning what the color green epitomizes, that it’s the color of nature and life as well as rotten things/vomit and death, is one of my favorite scenes in the film. The set up of that scene is wonderful and you just can’t take your eyes off her. There’s also a sexually-charged scene between her and Patel that truly relies on the actors’ expression where things are implied rather than shown. Joel Edgerton as the Lord Bertilak is terrific as well in his brief scene, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Aussie actor gives a bad performance. Erin Kellyman also has a memorable scene as St. Winifred in the spookiest part of Gawain’s journey. Last but not least, Ralph Ineson is pretty wild in the title role. His gravely voice is perfect for the role and under those heavy layers of costume prosthetics, the character is immediately intimidating. Oh, lest not forget the orange Fox who accompanies Gawain for part of his journey, the furry animal has some pretty memorable moments!

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I think whether or not you enjoy The Green Knight likely depends on how familiar one is with the source material. I wish I were as well-versed on it, as I decided to read up on and watch on it after the movie. There are definitely plenty of life lessons to unpack from all the metaphors, symbolism and visual poetry presented here. The ending is open to interpretation, but you could say it’s a coming-of-age of sort as Gawain is forced to ‘grow up’ by the end of his journey and learn his lessons about honor, chivalry, etc. and what it means to be a true knight.

Overall I think I appreciate this movie but it didn’t cast a magical spell on me the way some major critics has described. Perhaps the overly-dark visuals might’ve dampened my enjoyment, it also doesn’t help that the theater was SO cold I had to run to my car quick to grab a blanket, something I’ve NEVER done before. That said, I’m still glad I saw it on the big screen and highly recommend this to anyone looking for something off-the-beaten-path from the typical Hollywood offerings. The distinctive visuals alone is well worth a watch, though hopefully you find a cinema where the showing isn’t overly dark. I definitely want to revisit this film once it’s available on streaming.

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Have you seen THE GREEN KNIGHT? I’d love to hear what you think!

A24 presents – Legends Never Die: An Oral History of The Green Knight

I’ve been anticipating this movie for over a year now! I first blogged about The Green Knight in February 2020, but of course it’s delayed because of Covid. Well now the wait is nearly over! From director David Lowery and starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton, this medieval fantasy opens ONLY in theaters on July 30!

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A24 just released this fascinating and helpful video in anticipation of its release. Narrated by Ralph Ineson (who plays the title role in the movie), it’s a crash course on the 14th century epic poem that inspired the upcoming film. Whether you’re an Arthurian expert or a little green, it’s worth a watch.

Here’s the synopsis again:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Check out these new stills from the film:

Per the film’s press notes, this is not the knight of knights of the epic poem. “My Gawain is someone who is not terrible—he’s no wretched scum—but he isn’t the best version of himself he could be,” says Lowery. “I love protagonists who come to realize the ways in which they are flawed.” [Lowery] also wanted the character to resonate with today’s interrogation of modern masculinity. “Issues of masculinity are front and center in modern discourse and it’s caused many of us to look at ourselves under a microscope and ponder where we might have lost our way, overlooked things, or done wrong,” says Lowery.

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After considering dozens of male leads, Lowery met with Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield, Slumdog Millionaire), an actor known for his winsome, irrepressible and upbeat characters, typically rife with gangly charm. Lowery’s early drafts of the script featured a protagonist that was on the verge of being irredeemable, and while Patel loved his take on the medieval classic, he wanted a glimmer of redemption in the protagonist, in keeping with his body of work.

“Dev had some really wonderful notes on the script, and I tweaked the story accordingly,” says Lowery. Adds Patel: “Gawain is sort of this spoiled brat, and I told David before I signed on that if we’re going to go on this extraordinary journey with him—amid sparse dialogue and many instances of questionable behavior—there has to be something that makes you root for him through this adversity.”


I’m so thrilled to see Dev as Gawain and it’s definitely not the first time he’s tackled a role normally reserved for Caucasian actors. His casting just makes me even more excited to watch this Arthurian legend adaptation, and the fact that it’s a lesser known Arthurian stories compared to Lancelot and Guinevere, the wizard Merlin, etc. makes it even more fascinating!


Are you looking forward to seeing THE GREEN KNIGHT?

New Teaser + Poster Spotlight: A24’s The Green Knight

It’s not every week I do a post about an upcoming movie. But hey, after Oscars wrapped this past weekend, I’m just looking forward what’s in store this year. I had never even heard of this movie before, but when I saw this provocative poster came across my Insta, courtesy of A24, I knew I had to post about it!

It’s funny that I actually just talked about Dev Patel w/ a fellow blogger Brittany from Rambling Film blog and that we’re both crushing on him right now 😉 How awesome to see that he’s actually the leading man of this movie, in a Medieval fantasy no less!

Here’s the premise, thanks to Paste Magazine:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Behold the new trailer!

Glad I read a little bit about the story of the poem it’s based on, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose original writer is unknown. Sir Gawain is a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, and of course King Arthur is an extremely popular literary subject that’s been adapted countless times on film and other forms of media. Right away it gives me a bit of Game of Thrones meets Tarsem’s Immortals vibe. The fact that it’s A24 developing it makes me extra excited for it… it looks ominous + mysterious, and a foreboding score. Not sure if it’s going to get an R rating, but looks like it’s likely pretty violent. Now, if only we can have Sean Harris play a mute for once? Sorry but I can’t stand his hoarse voice, ugh!


As I mentioned, I love Dev Patel’s casting, who over the years has proven himself to be a versatile actor who can play virtually any role. He isn’t the first actor I’d imagine to play a heroic Medieval knight, but why shouldn’t he be? I love how many theaters in the Twin Cities have incorporated many actors of colors in many literary classic adaptations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so why can’t they do the same in films and tv works? The important part is the actor captures the ‘essence’ of the character. Most recently Patel also played a famous literary character by Charles Dickens in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

The rest of the cast includes Alicia Vikander (Lady Bertilak) and Joel Edgerton (Lord Bertilak), as well as Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson. As for the filmmaker, I’ve only seen Pete’s Dragon (which I love) by David Lowery, but his most recent film The Old Man & the Gun starring Robert Redford is highly acclaimed by critics.

I’m glad I’ll be seeing more of Patel this Spring. The the David Copperfield movie is to be released on May 8 and per IMDb, The Green Knight is released on May 29.


What do you think of THE GREEN KNIGHT?

FlixChatter Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

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I always try to keep a neutral expectation going into a film, and it’s a lot easier when I didn’t know much about that particular movie. I had no idea that Pete’s Dragon was a remake of the 1977 movie until days before I saw it, and I didn’t see the original (which is apparently a live-action musical mixed with animated elements). Well, thankfully the constantly-advancing CGI technology enables this live-action version to have a pretty realistic looking dragon.

Now, great CGI alone does not make a movie, but Pete’s Dragon has an engaging story, lovable characters and so much heart. The movie opens with young Pete on a road trip with his parents. I knew somehow things would go wrong and it did. The car crash claimed his parents’ lives, leaving Pete (Oakes Fegley) all alone in the woods… until he found a new friend. I’m surprised how it didn’t take long before we see the creature in the title role, which Pete named Elliot. He’s not a scary, slithery dragon like The Hobbit‘s Smaug nor the ones in Game of Thrones. Elliot is a green fury dragon who can fly and breathe fire, but yet gentle and huggable. In other words, I fell in love with Elliot instantly, the same way I did with Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon.

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Now, the friendship that developed between Pete and Elliot wasn’t shown in the same manner as HTTYD. After that initial meet-up when little Pete climbs into Elliot’s huge paw, we meet them six years later and they’re already BFFs. The scenes of them hanging out in the woods reminds me a lot of Disney’s recent The Jungle Book with Pete as a Mowgli-like character. But of course the story is quite different and none of the animals can talk here, neither does Elliot. Like in Jungle Book, you also can’t overthink about how a child survives in the woods being raised by an animal.

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Elliot’s become kind of a local folklore (kind of like the Lochness monster). Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) is practically the only one who still talks about it, despite being teased by his skeptical daughter, forest ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). It’s when Grace ends up running into Pete, and taking him back to civilization that the real action begins. Grace bonds immediately with Pete, who shares her wide-eyed wonder of her beloved woods, and so is her step-daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence). For the first time Pete has someone his own age to hang out with. There’s little resistance on his part to live amongst humans, but it’s obvious he misses his fury friend. Elliot too, misses Pete, and the moment he watches Pete hanging out with Grace’s family from the window tugs my heartstrings.

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Pete’s Dragon is set in the 80s, so naturally it conjures up images of Spielberg’s family movies. Interestingly, Spielberg’s latest The BFG left me underwhelmed & quite bored. But what David Lowery did here captured my imagination as well as my heart in equal measure. I cry easily in movies but I’ve never cried so much like I did here. I literally sobbed watching some of the scenes. The story isn’t original and predictable at times, but I was transported into another world and was caught up in the journey of the characters. It’s quite a feat since he hasn’t made a family feature before and his last feature effort was the R-rated crime drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.

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Oakes Fegley is wonderful as Pete, and there’s so much believable chemistry between him and the CGI character Elliot. Redford adds gravitas in the role, but also has a memorable scene towards the end that makes up for his rather small screentime. Howard fares so much better here than in the other big Summer movie featuring large creatures Jurassic World. The closest to a film’s antagonist is Karl Urban‘s lumberjack Gavin, who seems rather silly and even childish as he saw Elliot as a threat but then later became very possessive of him. But I like Urban as an actor and he looks really good in his lumberjack outfit (ehm), plus Gavin did redeem himself in the end. It’s Wes Bentley who isn’t given much to do here as Gavin’s brother/Grace’s fiancé.

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The New Zealand scenery is absolutely breathtaking. For a film that utilizes a lot of CGI for the dragon scenes, it looks pretty natural and organic throughout, with seamless mix between the dragon & humans. The music by Daniel Hart helps enhance the emotional factor of the movie, though not quite as memorable as John Powell‘s in HTTYD.

So yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed Pete’s Dragon. As Pete and Elliot take flight through the clouds, my heart literally soars along with it. Easily one of my favorite movies this Summer that I certainly won’t mind watching again and again.

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What do you think of ‘Pete’s Dragon?’