knightriders is kinda experimentally shot and only those who play interactive drama would be interested in it. but frankly interative drama is an absurd idea for me, an escapism, and i cannot help but feel ridiculous when i see those people dress in cheap-materialed costumes and live in a virtual world which really looks too fake to take it seriously. and i also feel strange about why that cult gives such an importance over that role-playing thing they do, and how they make a living? wouldn't that be boring to behave like that 24 hours a day? maybe that're just prejudices out of my criticial mind which demand high sense of realism.
it's just like someone weeps over the death of his on-line game character...you feel like to laugh but he's so upset that you try to dissolve your contempt and lessen it into apathy.
Only 2 1/2 stars because if I gave it a 3 it would mean I wouldnt mind watching it again.
Billy Davis (Ed Harris) is the king of a group of what amounts to Renaissance Fair folk, all building armor, jousting on motorcycles, selling food they've made or grown, as well as jewelry, clothing and accoutrements they've manufactured themselves. Chief amongst them are Alan (Gary Lahti), who is the sort of Lancelot to Billy's Arthur, the one who follows and trusts him most closely, Morgan (Tom Savini, sadly known outside genre work probably as just "that guy in that Quentin Tarantino movie about vampires"*), who took his name from Morgan le Fay (not, they joke, realizing this was a female character) and bears some elements of antagonism to Billy's reign, constantly competing for the crown, Linet (Amy Ingersoll), Billy's Guinevere, and Angie (Christine Romero née Forrest, but still credited Forrest for this movie, as she and George married on the last day of filming), one of the mechanics in a wishy-washy relationship with Morgan. The central conceit is the conflict between Billy's moral code--of strict honour and nobility--and the ways of the world around him. Morgan is willing to sell their act or even pay off corrupt cops looking for a handout, seeing this as more a hobby or an expression of his love of bikes than as a full-fledged community. Alan attempts to defend Billy, but Billy's temper, distance from everyone and his adherence to his code in unusual situations makes it difficult, and the introduction of outside character elements like teenager Julie (Patricia Tallman) and eventually a reporter and photographer lead to massive strife within this community as it fights to survive these external pressures.
George has always shown a relative distaste for the directions American society has taken in many respects, politically (especially recently), socially, commercially (essentially completely, not just a part of this) and so on. It never smacks of vitriol, condemnation, or negativity, but is certainly a source of criticism, satire and dark-edged fun for him. This is no real exception, but neither does it seem to side with Billy's ideals, portraying them as unrealistic in the world we live in, and too willing, sometimes, to sacrifice the good of others for itself. His advisor Merlin (storyteller Brother Blue) attempts to gently guide him without controlling or specifically laying a path, but Billy is bullheaded as the film opens, and throughout most of it--refusing a small boy an autograph over a matter of "honour," letting compatriot Bagman (Don Berry) be imprisoned falsely in order to avoid paying off the aforementioned corrupt cop and so on. Morgan's more realistic view of the world--one might say more cynically resigned--is not given a ringing endorsement either. When Joe Bontempi (Martin Ferrero, who later played similarly sleazy lawyer Gennaro in Spielberg's adaptation of Jurassic Park) arrives offering contracts with payoffs over double their usual take, Morgan nearly leaps at the opportunity, splitting off with his lackeys to follow Bontempi, until he becomes disillusioned with this slick, materialistic and untrustworthy--even dangerous--avenue of existence. Most mocked, it seems, are the mindless sheep of the American crowds coming to witness the events, usually slobbish, mean-spirited and bloodthirsty, cheering loudest when someone is injured, best encapsulated by, of all people, Stephen King and his wife Tabitha, as a nameless couple who sit and drink beer as King babbles on about how everything they're seeing is "fake" and the like.
The runtime is exceptionally long (even for Romero, who is never shy about runtimes if he feels like it) at 145 minutes, but it doesn't feel bloated or like any of this time is wasted. There are an awful lot of characters and a pretty well-rounded plot, plus the stunts and action of all the jousts and accompanying fights. It's a very good movie and does nothing to break my faith in George. A good watch, and a very peculiar movie, but one best suited to have arrived later in his career--his burgeoning talent was visible in his earliest non-genre films (to say nothing of his debut picture, that one, you know, in black and white about people coming back from the dead?) but tackling something like this fits best after the heights of studies like Martin, which took the skills he was honing on those maligned films like Season of the Witch and put them into play correctly, leaving him able to put them to multiple characters and maintain the pacing of an action film after completing what is probably still his magnum opus, Dawn of the Dead.
There's no way to work all of these in, but I simply have to note them--this is a veritable "Who's Who" of Romero stars. Of those already mentioned, there is of course his wife Christine, who has occasionally made cameo appearances, and whose home was used for the filming of Season of the Witch, Tom Savini, who did effects work for Romero for decades (and was even supposed to do it for Night of the Living Dead, but was called to Vietnam as combat photographer)--and who also appears in many of his films, and even directed George's second Night of the Living Dead script in 1990, for a film starring, hey, Patricia Tallman, and then of course his most famous effects work might be what he did for Dawn of the Dead, which starred Ken Foree (who plays Little John the blacksmith) and Scott Reiniger (who plays Marhalt, a lackey of Morgan's), but also included many of the actors in this film as stuntmen and zombie extras, David Early as a talkshow host, of course titular Martin star John Amplas is "Whiteface" the mute jester, and even future Dawn of the Dead antagonist Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato) as a disgruntled worker in the community. The list is even longer, but past that it gets a little less recognizable, into more stuntmen and extras than anything else, though I'm probably still forgetting some people. This is exciting for someone like me, I've gotta say, to spot all of these faces from movies I love and see them in very different roles, and to note the strange connections and intertwined film careers.
*A fun role, but of course it's not a Quentin Tarantino FILM (he scripts and acts, but did not direct), and it's nowhere near Tom's best work in any field.