Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reel Low: Ironclad [2011]


Well, this post has been sitting in draft form for nearly two months as I became consumed by Mad Men posts, went on vacation and had a crazy excursion through the justice system, which culminated in coming face-to-face with a an eventually convicted child molester. All of that didn't exactly give me a lot of time to contemplate a decent but unessential medieval action flick that had the tendency to take itself a little too seriously at times, yet not enough at others.

But that's not important. What is important is that the world know Ironclad gets a simple thumbs-up from me. It's been a little too long now for me to write up a proper review without re-watching it, but I liked it. Overall, the movie is a little on the uneven side, but with these actors and mostly well-done scenes of action and bloodshed, I consider it recommendable. It's the story of a small, ill-trained and under-provisioned group of soldiers defending themselves against impossible odds, much in the spirit of Seven Samuraiand Zulu. While nowhere near as good a film as those, there's enough good material with this one to hold your attention. This is quite possibly the best medieval siege movie of the last decade. Only the Helm's Deep scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers come to mind as having exceeded what director/screenwriter Jonathan English did here (and by a wide margin, I should add).

Ironclad has been criticized for being historically inaccurate. This is generally an odd critique to me for action films inspired by landmark moments of the past. Did you really expect an education from a James Purefoy movie? No, you came for the insane violence and stayed for the great performances of top-billed cast members. Speaking of, Purefoy is predictably solid as the the gruff yet earnest knight templar leading the small band of castle defenders. Meanwhile, Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti simply outdo themselves repeatedly in this movie. They're the real reasons to watch this one. Rounding out the cast is the wonderful Derek Jacobi as a timid lord and the serviceable, if unspectacular Kate Mara as his young wife. And for those of you yearning for more Games of Thrones action, Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) does have a small role here as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Oh, remember how I said Ironclad is crazy-violent? Check this clip some Dutch dude obviously made from a bootleg copy of the film. (Very SPOILER-ific due to lots of kill-shots.) It's fun stuff.



Better than the real trailer, in my opinion.

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