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Ironclad (2011, Jonathan)

This film is basically Seven Samurai in England. Then it turns into The Alamo at Rochester. (Oh, sorry. Spoiler alert, I guess.)

This is an extremely gory film, though much of that gore is CGI, as you might imagine, and so it looks terrible. If you played a drinking game involving lopped limbs, you’d be fairly drunk by the end of this movie. It’s worth thinking about why a movie that is supposedly about upholding the Magna Carta is so gory. I suppose there’s supposed to be some point about sometimes fighting for liberty or some such thing.

This is not a good movie. It’s full of cliches and historical inaccuracies. A quick trip to wikipedia reveals that, though the rough story is vaguely accurate, all the details are wrong. And begs the question, why is the true version never good enough for screenwriters? Why not try to tell the real story of forcing John to honour the Magna Carta instead of the Magnificent Seven version of the story?

We alerted to the lack of rigour pretty early, as the opening music sounds a little too much like the Call to Prayer. We were wondering, where do they think we are? And the Welsh setting of does a poor job of passing for southeast England. 

The combination of the false version of history, the ridiculous gore, the “group of miscreants protecting everyone’s rights till the last,” the confused score and the bad setting all add up to not a very good movie. Also, the script has some real groaners.

Some stray thoughts about the film:

Does the King just travel around the country with trebuchets? Why does he have so much stuff for a siege of a castle he never expected to have to take? (It’s his castle!)

These are the faster builders I’ve ever seen. Everyone has a siege engine.

John isn’t just a bad guy, he’s absolutely awful. Why can’t they ever make him a person? (He becomes more of a person at the end, for some reason.)

Of course the Templar has to have some sex.

The women know how to fight!

What I want to know is, why is this keep still important once they have the castle courtyard? The people inside are not firing arrows out of it; the King’s forces have control of the supposedly vitally important road.

The ending is very cowboys and indians or, to use a slightly more recent reference, Saving Private Ryan.

4/10

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