Newest Reviews
12 Hour Shift
Filmmaker's House, The
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
  Ironclad Put It To The Sword
Year: 2011
Director: Jonathan English
Stars: James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Kate Mara, Paul Giamatti, Charles Dance, Jason Flemyng, Aneurin Barnard, Bree Condon, Mackenzie Crook, Jamie Foreman, Derek Jacobi, Vladimir Kulich, David Melville, Daniel O'Meara, Guy Siner, Rhys Parry Jones, Steffan Rhodri
Genre: Action, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: During the 13th Century, King John (Paul Giamatti) plunged the country of England into a bloody civil war for three years as he tried to assert his influence over the barons, but eventually he was forced to sign the Magna Carta to ensure that fair laws would be bestowed on the land, although John was allowed to remain on the throne. But he secures a Papal decree ordering the document to be illegal, and gathers an army of mercenaries from Denmark to start taking the barons to task... with force.

And where did King John sign the Magna Carta? At the bottom, of course. Anyway, this item of historical blood and thunder was one of a number of productions that brought the past to life; although Braveheart was often pointed to as the main influence, Ironclad even more looked like following on from those lavish television dramas such as Rome or The Tudors, along with a hefty dose of Paul Verhoeven's Flesh + Blood for good measure, the turning point for this lusty genre. You could trace it all the way back to the likes of The Vikings, when big budget spectacle was best suited to such tales, and there was a degree of that here too.

This, however, was not the biggest budgeted of movies, as seen where the siege of Rochester which the main part of the story concentrated upon was reduced to a skirmish around one castle rather than a whole city, but you got the idea even if the historians would be grumbling. That idea being King John was a rum cove, here essayed by Giamatti as a conniving monarch who was better at setting groups of people on each other and making a record of it for posterity than he was a fair and decent ruler of his kingdom. This was also the film where Giamatti claimed to have punched a horse to stop it ruining his scene, getting a little too far into character there.

But this was not wholly the American's show, as it was more an ensemble, with James Purefoy as Knight Templar Thomas leading a Seven Samurai type band of ragtag fighters to save Rochester from the siege fast approaching outside the castle walls. With an international cast, Giamatti and his countrymen such as Kate Mara, who played the young wife of a marriage of convenience to one of the barons (Derek Jacobi), were obliged to put on English accents to blend in, but there was nothing especially egregious in the casting, and the goodies were made more vivid thanks to the likes of Jason Flemyng and Jamie Foreman swinging swords and axes around their heads with gusto.

That was what really made Ironclad stand out, the bloodthirsty way the violence was depicted, fair enough if you wanted exciting, gritty battle scenes, but here evidently relied on that bit too much when a less earnest script might have rendered this more of a romp - it didn't half take itself seriously. The results were bursts of activity as the King's men fire missiles with trebuchets and dodge boiling oil while scaling the walls, all very diverting, but containing intervals of hushed conversations, comic relief which managed to be broad and unengaging at the same time, and unwanted love interest as Purefoy and Mara illustrated how little chemistry they had. But there was enough of the grungy stuff to make this more than a complete waste of time, managing to stave off all thoughts of Monty Python which was an achievement in itself - well, apart from the bit where Brian Cox is fired from a trebuchet. Music by Lorne Balfe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2375 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash


Last Updated: