While Hollywood missteps again with the engorged and costly excess of Seventh Son, not to mention a potential write-down on Jupiter Ascending looming, Legends of the Knight proves that true independent film is alive and well. Brett Culp’s breakout feature doc isn’t a “Hollywood indie,” where the cast is still A-list, but the budget is slightly lower for catering; no, his project is a true grassroots passion project built from the ground up. Funded by over 1,100 fans, the $65k 76-minute journey is a beautiful shot and told examination of the effect Batman, a character who has transcended from the comic book pages of the mid-20th century to modern folklore, has had on common men and women everywhere.
Cynically, one could say that the project goes for the easy heartstrings; its subjects range from cops protecting the streets to retired rich guys visiting sick kids in the hospital and Holocaust survivors. But for those cynics, a movie as delightful as this one can’t help but ask, when did we become the darkness, and forget to walk out into the light? Batman has become too caught up in the grim antiheroic world of Nolan, when, it is always worth remembering, he is a mortal hero who uses the darkness as a strength to bring Gotham into the light. His story was always and still remains, a story of overcoming and giving back.
The project evolves as it addresses educators and clinicians who incorporate comics into challenging social environments. Culp’s cinematography is cleaner and more artistically inspired than some studio features. The emotional story is fueled by Dan Phillipson’s superb score. The only legitimate complaint one could make is that the tone can be repetitive and some footage is reused, even in such a short, tight film. All of that can be forgiven, however, just to see that there is so much good flickering in the world.
Legend of the Knight is a testament to the power of the millennial generation’s voice, when used at its best. SLR cinematography, crowdunding, and grassroots stories may never be the big money-makes, but their internal worth far outweighs their humble external form. The fact that this film is inspired by a comic book masked vigilante becomes a moot point next to the unmasked, everyday heroes the film reveals.
DVD BONUS FEATURES
A wonderful featurette tracking the charity screenings of the film. Culp made the film a non-profit, with all proceeds going to good causes. As if the project wasn’t selfless enough. Movie trailer and deleted scenes.
"Legends of the Knight" is on sale November 18, 2014 and is not rated. Adventure, Documentary, inspirational. Written and directed by Brett Culp.