Welcome to Adventures in Netflix! Today I will be reviewing the 2011 historical medieval action movie Ironclad.
When you get right down to it, Ironclad is a fairly straightforward movie. It pits Baron William De Albany (Brian Cox), Templar Thomas Marshall (James Purefoy), and a ragtag band of rebels against the tyrannical King John (Paul Giamatti) and his army of Danish mercenaries. The rebels seek to hold Rochester castle against John’s ruthless siege long enough for the French army to arrive and save the day.
The siege itself is impressive; the brutality of medieval warfare is depicted with bloody, graphic detail, and the camerawork in the melee scenes does an excellent job of making the violence and gore feel uncomfortably real and personal. The special effects of the siege engines, and the damage they wrought, were equally impressive, and showed just how powerful even ancient war machines could be.
The acting was, for the most part, adequate. Paul Giamatti was excellent as a vindictive, spiteful King John, and gave probably the strongest performance of anyone. Many of the others, especially James Purefoy and Kate Mara (who played Isabel, the lady of the castle and Sir Thomas’s love interest), tended to be a bit flat, especially during the quiet moments (though to be fair the characters themselves aren’t much more than fairly standard, flat archetypes to begin with). And let’s be honest, Ironclad really isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is; a gritty, gory medieval action movie.
Aside from the action, which is of course the main draw of a movie like this, my second favorite part of the movie was the music. I thought that It did a wonderful job of setting the tone of the movie and evoking a strong sense of place, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
All in all I quite liked Ironclad. While it definitely had it’s issues, it did enough right to be an intense, enjoyable, action packed experience.