DVD Review: Ironclad

Thanks for checking out our Ironclad DVD review.

Genre: Period drama / Medieval / Action

Directed by: Jonathan English

Starring: James Purefoy, Brain Cox, Kate Mara, Jason Flemying and Paul Giamatti

Released: July 26, 2011 (US)

THE GENERAL IDEA

In 13th-century England, a small group of Knights Templar fight to defend Rochester Castle against the tyrannical King John.

THE GOOD
I found that the true standout of the film is Paul Giamatti, who makes a “good” tyrannical, power hungry, revenge seeking King John. King John isn’t just cold-hearted and sadistic, he has to work at it. He has a memorable scene with Brain Cox late in the film,just to prove it to you. Also of note is Kate Mara (Lady Isabel) simply because the production got really, really lucky. Sure, they lost a good chunk of their budget when Megan Fox ditched this project and shot down the role of Isabel. They didn’t lose much production value and they got a far better actress.

I also liked Brian Cox in this film a great deal too. Nice to see him get into the action.

THE (NOT SO) BAD
James Purefoy as Knight Marshall does alright, although he phones in an archetype. It’s interesting to see a character stay true to his oaths and pride. It’s another situation when Marshall gets roughed up to pulp and getting to his feet when story conventions need him to. It’s a character which I don’t hate for being cliched, but I don’t love it either. Same goes for some of the other band of heroes played by Flemying, Mackenzie Crook, Jamie Foreman and Anerurin Barnard, although the latter’s character, a squire named Guy has a character arc chiseled out through blood and bone. (In other words, he’s a cherry until after he loses a mentor). We get to know something about these characters, and at least they have some development. They also care about those around them, even if some of those people don’t fully understand as to why.

And every cliched hero, like him or not, needs a towering opponent to clash with. !3th Warrior’s Vladimir Kulich fills that role of King John’s Danish mercenary henchman to the letter. He’s e

THE BAD
The film does linger and limp on as we meet our team of heroes and occasional lulls between the action. There is also a number of scenes that appear to be molded together in a montage with a VO telling us what’s what. It brings the film’s pace down a notch or two when it does this. In addition, while you WILL get your rampart fix and heaps of body parts cut off every which way, and those wishing to see that sort of thing won’t be let down by any means. That said, witness long battle scenes with endless skull crushings, arrows in the back, and hands getting chopped off, there does come a time when you know when to say when. Some of the mayhem needed to be tighter, and some swordplay looked about the same as the previous attack. You may or may not get squeamish, but you will eventually get numb and worn out.

OVERALL
Ironclad promises bloodshed in a defense of a medieval keep. It delivers on that vow in spades. It gets a little heavy handed and dull on occasion, and once you seen some dude get maced in the face for the hundredth time, you’ll see it a hundred times more before the two hours are up. The film was released theatrically overseas earlier this year; in North America, it goes right to video. That’s a bit of a shame, really, because Cox and Giamatti make the picture worth the time.

I give Ironclad 5 out of 10

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