When I watch war movies, I tend to do so with the impression that the action is larger than life, making everything more melodramatic than it really is. This belief of mine especially rings true for those war movies which are based upon actual events. Done properly, like “Gladiator,” and I’ll watch it in theatres and on TV, even the FCC hacked to pieces version. Done ridiculously, like “300,” and you can be virtually assured I’ll never watch it. From all indications, “Ironclad” looks to be near the middle, but definitely more on the “Gladiator” side of the spectrum.
Directed by Jonathan English (“Minotaur”), “Ironclad” tells the story of King John’s siege against Rochester Castle in 1215 and that of the small group of Knights Templar holding it. For all those who are not history buffs, 1215 is the year King John signed the Magna Carta, which naturally sets up the tension for this movie well. Its cast is a pretty good one for the low budget, including Paul Giamatti, Robert Carlyle, Jason Flemyng, James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Mackenzie Crook and Kate Mara.
Not since the end of “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” have I seen a true knock-down-the-walls-of-that-castle-and-do-it-now!!!! movie. As I said at the top, this is a war movie, so I don’t really expect strong emphasis on character development and the like, but I think the cast has the chops to pull it through without putting us all to sleep. The genius casting choice award of the year should likely go to Giamatti’s King John because I can already see him being comically and/or sadistically unstable, and for some reason, those kind of roles work for him (see “The Negotiator”) and will work extremely well for King John, who was a few crisps short, if you catch my meaning.
All in all, the trailer is pretty solid. From what I’ve seen of the acting, it’s period specific, and not too over the top. The effects are more realistic than “300” (and so are the weapons used. Yes, there is a PROPER trebuchet, NOT a catapult). The score is a Hollywood score which is just there for dressing, but no one cares. I think it’ll be a good movie to watch when it eventually comes to TNT. I don’t think I’d shell out nine bucks to see it because when it comes to my movies I’m cheap and particular, (last movie where I did that was “Star Trek”), but it doesn’t look bad at all.
. . .
Follow Chris Hyatt on Twitter at http://twitter.com/hyattch.