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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
James Purefoy
Paul Giamatti
Brian Cox
Kate Mara.
Directors
Jonathan English.
Screenwriters
Erick Kastel
Jonathan English.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Ironclad
You’ve got Chainmail


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Plot
1215. Having been forced to sign Magna Carta, King John (Giamatti) imports Danish mercenaries to punish the barons who humiliated him. William de Albany (Cox) recruits Templar Thomas Marshall (Purefoy) and a band of rebels to defend the strategically important Rochester Castle against the King.


Review
Ironclad
This blokey mediaeval mini-epic picks up the chronicle where Ridley Scott dropped it at the end of his Robin Hood, and plunges into the juicy politicking of the Barons’ War as a vindictive monarch tries to take back England from upstarts who have made him grant unheard-of liberties to the people. Then, it defaults to borrowing from the classic action movie template: whiskery Baron Brian de Cox, modelling a fetching chainmail cardigan, and noble Templar knight Sir James of Purefoy, who even has a heroic horse, trot about muddy stretches of the country recruiting old friends. Archer Mackenzie Crook, criminal Jamie Foreman, whoremonger Jason Flemyng and a few others sign up to defend Rochester Castle; according to Wikipedia, several hundred rebels held out during the siege, but Ironclad slims down the number to a traditional Magnificent Seven.

Having perfected dour sword-swinging in Solomon Kane, Purefoy solidifies his manly rep as the near-mystically empowered warrior monk — it’s plain from the first sight of the winsome lady of the castle (Kate Mara) that his vow of chastity will be broken by the end of Act Two — and Marshall sets about defending Rochester in much the same way Patrick Swayze ran a bar in Road House. Writer-director Jonathan English, previously best-known for the SyFy Channel ‘original’ Minotaur, saddles a solid cast with too many duff lines (someone actually says, “It’s too quiet out there” just before a surprise attack), but it’s physically a convincing picture of brutal times. Paul Giamatti is a terrific villain, delivering angry speeches about the divine right of kings with fist-waving and beard-chewing while his Danish sidekick (Vladimir Kulich) shoulders a hefty axe in preparation for video-nasty levels of highly educational violence. According to King John, it’s not enough that a rebel has his hands and feet chopped off — they then have to be splatted against a castle wall with a ballista.

Though it’s a clanking armour exploitation movie not a History Channel production, some useful facts are embedded in the script. Should you ever be called upon to besiege a Norman castle, there’s a trick with burning pigs which will come in handy.


Verdict
Like all sieges, this offers moments of choppy terror and excitement followed by dull sit-it-out-and-starve spots. Straddled between uproarious schoolboy tosh and serious historical movie, this still offers enough dismemberments, royal tantrums and portcullis-rammings to make for a lively Saturday night out.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Ironclad
Empire Star Rating

RE: James Purefoy is ace

My thoughts? 7/10 Perhaps I was predisposed to like it, but I had a pretty good time with the movie. It depicted the reality of medieval combat in a way few films do, refusing to shy away from bodily harm those heavy iron weapons would inflict. Additionally, the battle scenes were generally well shot and staged. At times a tad confusing, but not utter chaos like certain reviews lead me to believe. Overall I'd compare it to 13 ASSASSINS, a film it closely resembles. The influence of SEVEN S... More

Posted by King of Kafiristan at 21:33, 01 March 2012 | Report This Post


James Purefoy is ace

He should be in more films. Watched this last night (along with finishing Rome a couple of weeks back) and I'm giving Ironclad and Solomon Kane the extra star purely for him. Both are enjoyably solid three star films and no more, but James Purefoy elevates both and I feel I have to grant them four stars. Dare I even say it, could James Purefoy be a 27%er?!?! He is all kinds of awesome as Marc Anthony in Rome so I think so. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MusicLovesYou at 12:20, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ironclad

Apparently it's only being shown on 101 screens.... that sucks. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2011/mar/09/ran go-the-adjustment-bureau-depp-damon ... More

Posted by Timon at 11:33, 10 March 2011 | Report This Post


SOME HONEST BLOOD AND GUTS....

This film reminded me of Neil Marshall's Centurion which I also enjoyed....but waitaminnit.......didn't Ridley Scitt also make the same film back in 2010??? King John? Magna Carta? Bloody battles and castle seiges? Invading French armies? Check. Global boxoffice for Robin Hood ....400 million. Global box office for Iron clad .....probably zilch....and yet it's the much better film. This bloke English knows how to stage a good battle scene and could be a director to watch in the future......thr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 18:35, 09 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Ironclad

Gotta agree great fun & lots of CLEAVING Really what Robin Hood could've done with a bit more of. (7/10) ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 09:23, 09 March 2011 | Report This Post


Ironclad

Good fun, but the editting was a bit choppy (no pun intended) and the quiet bits dragged a bit, but when it got going, it was great fun. Giamatti looked like he was having a ball. And the whole bi-secting of a soldier with a broadsword.... awesome! 3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Timon at 13:15, 07 March 2011 | Report This Post


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