Seeking to match the comic pizzazz of such DreamWorks and Pixar hits as Shrek, Puss in Boots and Brave, Spanish-made animated adventure Justin and the Knights of Valour falls disappointingly short, despite the best efforts of a very game, mostly British voice cast.
Freddie Highmore is the story’s teenage hero, a scrawny nincompoop who lives in a medieval kingdom where knights have been banished and replaced by the bureaucratic rule of lawyers.
It’s Justin’s ambition to emulate his legendary grandfather and become a knight that drives the story, but his bumbling quest is only fitfully engaging and the characters he encounters en route, including Saoirse Ronan’s feisty barmaid, David Walliams’ split-personality wizard and Rupert Everett’s camp villain, aren’t colourful or funny enough to enliven the journey’s many detours.
Antonio Banderas, the film’s co-producer, pops up as fake knight Sir Clorex, but his character’s Hispanic bravado is but a pale imitation of the swashbuckling Puss in Boots.
Certificate PG. Runtime 96 mins. Director Manuel Sicilia.
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