Since the release of 300 there has been a raise in pseudo-historical films geared to more adult audiences such as Black Death, Solomon Kane and Centurion just to name a few.
In the midst of the raise of this genre is Ironclad, one of the most insult and terrible and it offensive to anyone who has a slight be of historical knowledge After a brutal civil war with his Barons King John (Paul Giamatti) was forced to sign the Magna Carta which limits his power in 1215.
But a year later John reneges on the deal and with a group of Danish pagan mercenaries (in real life Denmark was a Christian country at this time) and starts to kill all the barons that made sign the treaty.
Once baron, William d’Aubigny (Brian Cox) takes a stand and seizes Rochester Castle with Knights Templar Thomas Marshall (James Purefoy) as the Archbishop of Canterbury (Charles Dance) tries to get the French to support the rebellion.
D’Aubigny and Marshall with 20 men have hold Rochester against King John’s army as they wait for reinforcements.
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Historically this film has gotten its fact wrong badly and it seems no cared at all. Writer/director Jonathan English made out that d’Aubigny was standing up for the freedom of the people and that King John was a false king, ignore that d’Aubigny inherited his title, he died a loyalist and that the barons were far from representing the people more their self interests.
They barons only cared about the lower classes for their tax take, that’s it, there was no notion of freedom, of believing that the monarchy was a false form of government when it would have been seen as too radical to overthrow the whole system.
This film is even more insulting when it shows King John as a vengeful, violence sadist, who commit’s the acts himself, including chopping the hands of a character.
John only has Danes fighting for him when in reality he had English supporters and one of the most stupid things the film pushes is at the end when the narrators says that John was overthrown and a French Prince became king, even thought in reality it was John’s son inherited the throne.
But even if you can look pass the awful history Ironclad is still a terrible film. I am sure a lot of people wanted to see it for the action and even that’s fails because the camera work is some of the worst I have seen in a mainstream film.
It looked like the cameraman was drunk throughout as the camera could not stay still and with the ultra quick editing it was impossible to tell what was going one.
It was a relief when there was a wide shot, even if it only lasted a few seconds. This was a film that really enjoyed and linger on the violence.
Whilst I expected it bloody this film was too over the top, including a man being beaten with a severed arm and a Danish soldier gets hacked in half and that it seemed to be the only point of the film. There were a few fun moments but they are few and far between.
On a character and acting level the film was bare bones. King John was pretty much playing Edward I in Braveheart whilst d’Aubigny is William Wallace and I hated Braveheart with a passion.
They were one dimensional characters and the actors were seemingly having a competition on who can over act the most. d’Aubigny is a jerk, he enforces a conflict on Reginald de Cornhill (Derek Jacobi) and the film actually had to make him dislikeable by giving him a young wife in the form of Kate Mara just so d’Aubigny is more sympathetic.
And Mara was terrible in this film, she was only cast because she has a pretty face: it was a role intended for Megan Fox which should tell you something. He had no conviction in her delivery and a blank facial expression. And the film has the gaul to turn her into a warrior woman.
The only two actors that come out of this film with some credit are Purefoy who was convincing as the action hero and was treating the film seriously, he deserves to lead a good film.
The other is Aneurin Barnard, a young squire who enters into battle for the first time, playing his role with conviction, even if he is playing a clichéd role of a young man who has to that there is nothing noble about the violence of battle (seeing that this is a film wanting the audience to revival in the violence it’s a little hypocritical). Jason Flyming too seemed like he was having fun with his role but it was a dump role.
If you have any interest in history this a film to avoid and even if you are an action junkie or someone who is a fan of cinema violence will be disappointed because you can not tell what is happening. This is a film to miss. Watch 300 or Centurion instead.
Source: freemantle_uk – imdb