I'm right in the demo for this movie, I'm far from an authority on the genre but I enjoy historical action/dramas and tend to seek them out. I even enjoyed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves that's been so vilified by the critics. Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" is one of my favorite books, and I've seen all the movie versions, with the 1997 miniseries the best but the 1982 TV movie is fun as well. I was intrigued when I heard about this "prequel".
The best thing about the movie is that it knows exactly what it is, it never looks too self important and never makes fun of the genre. Obviously it didn't have the money for spectacular sets or stunts. Although even a non-historian like me winced when a character was singing "Greensleeves", which was written by Henry VIII centuries after this movie is set. Stacy Keach was the best part and kept it from getting melodramatic. The rest of the acting was fine, I didn't see the point of Margot Kidder's character but Ivanhoe and Rowena had good chemistry.
I don't really care if the actors don't have the perfect British accents of their characters, but when one of them said a Canadian "aboot" and one had not just an American accent, but a "Los Angeles" accent, it was a bit distracting.
Rachel Blanchard was good as Rowena, however her dagger throwing skills and self-reliance were a bit inconsistent with her gentle submissive character from the book and other films - what distinguished her from the fiercer Rebecca. But Rebecca doesn't appear in this film so no matter.
If you like the book or other Ivanhoe movies you will like this. It is fun, fun to see that the boy who would become Robin Hood's Friar Tuck was a fat boy named Tuck who was the son of the cook in Ivanhoe's house. Fun to see that Ivanhoe, who has such planning patience when he returns from Palestine in the original story, be impulsive and willful in his quest for justice and defense of his family until he learns strategy from Pembrooke.
Fun to see the attack on the castle of Count Du Bourget to free Rowena, foreshadowing the attack on the castle of Font-de-Boeuf to free Rowena and Rebecca.
Fun to see how The Black Knight became the symbol of the Saxon Defender, knowing that eventually King Richard, a Norman who desired better relations between the races, would take up that identity.
If you are a stickler for historical accuracy or consistence with the other "Ivanhoe" book or movies then stay away. If you like historical action/dramas with perfectly fine acting and story then you'll like this. You'll like it more if you're a fan of "Ivanhoe" and can spot the homages and ignore any inconsistencies.
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