Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ironclad Review

There's something about movies in a historical fashion that we all seem to find fascinating.  I think it's the romanticizing of a time where, in some ways life was simpler and in others it was much more complicated and difficult. I particularly like these movies when there is no focus on the fantasy or super natural.  Ironclad is based on the actual siege of Rochester in the 13th Century when King John was trying to reclaim his kingdom after signing the Magna Carta.  And while it has the basic story, it is very inaccurate in a lot of things that they really didn't need to change.  At this time, the Danes were not pagan.  Rochester was a significant city but they portray it as a remote outpost.  They even talk about its strategic importance.  If it was so important, it would have drawn a lot of people to it in search of a better life.  So to make it remote and small just contradicts what they were trying to do in the movie.  Altering a historical story for the big screen can be done well (see Gladiator for a good example).  But to sacrifice story integrity for dramatic effect is a bad mistake.

The battle scenes are realistic.  They are very bloody and graphic to the point of being a little too much.  But ever since Braveheart, the movie going masses have come to expect and demand such things in their war movies.  It's kind of sad because the films tend to rely on the gore rather than leave it to the imagination and interpretation of the audience.  I was surprised to see this in a British production because the British tend to downplay the sensational and let the audience think.  It's one reason why I tend to lean towards British cinema in the first place.

Some of the editing, cinematography, and basic story is a bit sloppy but overall, it's not too bad.  There is a tacked on love story brought in to try and appeal to human nature and it's done so quickly and half assed that it just wasn't necessary.  The writing is inconsistent with the time period though.  Many of Brian Cox's lines don't seem to fit with the rest of the cast but he does deliver them convincingly.  Paul Giamatti also does a good job portraying the sniveling little a-hole of a king.  Normally, a screaming tirade from such a character directed at his enemy comes off as cheesy and hard to watch.  But his hollering at Cox was done very convincingly.  It's not surprising because both of these men are very good actors.

If you like the medieval thing you may want to watch it.  The performances are decent.  And the sets, costumes, and fight choreography seem genuine.  If you are looking for a tight, historic movie with few holes, you may want to give it a pass.  My recommendation is to see it and judge for yourself because it isn't a total waste of time.

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