Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Knight of Cups follows writer Rick (Bale), on an odyssey through the playgrounds of Los Angeles and Las Vegas as he undertakes a search for love and self. Even as he moves through a desire-laden landscape of mansions, resorts, beaches and clubs, Rick grapples over complicated relationships with his brother (Bentley) and father (Dennehy). His quest to break the spell of his disenchantment takes him on a series of adventures with six alluring women: rebellious Della (Poots); his physician ex-wife, Nancy (Blanchett); a serene model Helen (Pinto); a woman he wronged in the past Elizabeth (Portman); a spirited, playful stripper Karen (Palmer); and an innocent Isabel (Lucas), who helps him see a way forward.
It would be trivial to attempt an explanation of the plot for Terrence Malick’s latest film ‘Knight of Cups’ as I’m not sure one actually exists, the film more a general course of events with a feeling (and some Tarot cards) carrying the various dreamlike scenes along until the conclusion. The film accompanies Rick (Bale), an apparent writer based in Los Angeles who seems to have lost his way. While any discrete facts or information regarding the storyline and events within are hard to confirm (or occasionally even to loosely decipher), it follows Rick through a dizzying collection of events concerning interactions with his family and six different women as he searches for something within it all.
Written and directed by award winning filmmaker Terrence Malick (The New World, To The Wonder) who clearly had the pleasure of making the exact type of film he desired with ‘Knight of Cups’ and his capability as a director and ability to uncover so much beauty around each turn is quite obvious. The film also includes a plethora of incredibly talented individuals comprising the cast such as Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Wes Bentley, Imogen Poots, Isabel Lucas, Joel Kinnaman, and Michael Wincott along with a great deal more, although the majority of which play bit parts, many without so much as an entire minute of screen time.
‘Knight of Cups’ is an incredibly strange film and so drastically unlike anything else out there that many will be so thrown with what they are presented, they will likely find it nearly impossible to enjoy this sporadic and often mind twisting tale which never truly builds to anything, merely tumbles about until the end credits eventually roll. The huge fans of Malick’s work as a filmmaker on the other hand, along with those who can appreciate and allow themselves to delve into Malick’s strange mindset will likely appreciate it a fair amount, or at least far more than the majority of folks are bound to. Amid the erratic and often maddening formula and style, the film certainly has a few positive aspects within such as the landscapes, surroundings and general cinematography which is stunning and provides some gorgeous eye candy, even if many viewers (such as myself) can only tolerate so much of Christian Bale in profile with a dazed look plastered on his face as the camera pans around, merely with various landscapes and other individuals occasionally interchanged throughout. What dialogue is actually present in the film is primarily spoken in voiceovers, with the arguments and other visible discussions allowing only a tidbit of its dialogue to seep into the level of audibility. A great deal of the dialogue is also painfully random and illogical, although this may come as no surprise considering Malick apparently opted for making ‘Knight of Cups’ without a script.
Overall, ‘Knight of Cups’ is an unbalanced, maddening and nonsensical film that feels more like a two hour trailer for itself than it does an actual film. It’s odd, but it’s also unique and offers some true beauty in the scenery and the style of shooting, not to mention a sure challenge for the cast which includes an impressive collection of talented individuals working without a script. Fans of Terrence Malick’s offbeat and truly odd style of filmmaking will probably want to check it out and are likely to appreciate it at least to an extent, although the common viewer and those unfamiliar with his style will probably find it safest to simply avoid the film.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Knight of Cups’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.35:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful, delivering a clean, sharp and nearly flawless video presentation throughout that perfectly captures the gorgeous scenery always on display. Complimented by a more than substantial bitrate, it holds up impressively even during the constant fast moving sequences and the camera shots which always seem to be in motion; never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily thrill.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and highly competent audio presentation, utilizing all five available channels quite regularly in order to surround the viewer with the score and other little tidbits of random activity in order to accentuate the on screen experience, and always making certain that any dialogue intended to be audible remains so. Overall, this is a wonderful 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers admirably in every way required of it.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Knight of Cups’ includes a single extra, a behind the scenes Featurette ‘The Making of Knight of Cups’ (running approximately 16 minutes in length) which features behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
‘Knight Of Cups’ is Now Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD from Broad Green Pictures.
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