The expected historical inaccuracies aside, most medieval films tend to be, in my opinion, just plain boring. It's as if nobody wants to come in and spice up the genre a bit by adding in CHARACTERS or an engaging PLOT, or maybe even stunning CINEMATOGRAPHY. By all means, I know it's the filmmaker's job to make their film look as grim as possible, but it is not, however, their duty to script the production in such a ludicrous and unappealing matter.
So now we've got a new medieval flick called "Ironclad", which has a promising cast, premise, and time period to spare; and alas, it's not much different than the others of its kind, wasting potential at every chance it gets, and boring us to tears just as often. I mean, the thing is two hours long; at least give us something to be interested in. There was no reason for me to engage, while at the same time, there was nothing for me to just despise. This is so maddening that I can't be in favor of the film, but by no means can I be against it either. Of course, it may just be my personal disappointment with most films set in this era that led me to dislike the newest entry, but then again, from the looks of the general critical consensus, I am not alone; and I'm proud of that.
King John (Paul Giamatti) breaks his word of peace and causes both uproar and rebellion amongst his former followers and enemies. The barons who basically forced the King into signing a sort of peace treaty, the Magna Carta, get their just desserts when the King and his men rebel and brutally slaughter all who humiliated the great man.
The film chronicles a group of warriors, led by Albany (Brian Cox), whom attempt to defend their castle against the King and his men. They fight a good battle, but if you know how the real-life events ended, then you (might) know how the film does too.
But then again, maybe not; given how there are some serious historical inaccuracies going on here. I'm fine with these inaccuracies at times, but sometimes they're just plain distracting, especially when the film tries to be more than it actually is. Of course, King John won the battle in reality and took siege of the castle; while in the film, let's just say, things end a little differently.
However, the real problem I had with "Ironclad" was the way it markets and stylizes itself. While it is indeed a historical film, it's crafted like a Lucio Fulci film; soaked in bloodshed, gore, and stuff for those who appreciate the combination of the two. So basically, it's a gore flick; and a decent one, which is saying more than it should, considering I can't really call the film "stupid" can I? It was made for a certain audience, one that could forgive it of its little flaws, and I wasn't in there with those people, which is a shame. It was hard to enjoy the film; it had little going for it. The characters were weak, and the story was told in a boring, convoluted way. The film looks nice, with some dazzling cinematography, but the film is more interested in its bloody battles than in its characters, which is a shame, because there was a chance - oh, there was a chance - that I may have liked the film if it had some depth. Otherwise, my final complaint is that Giamatti isn't well-used as his character; one which he was never meant to portray. I like Giamatti when he can be cynical and over-the-top, and sometimes lovable, rather than restrained. And there's nothing worse than an unrestrained actor in a restrained role; found within an unrestrained movie, now is there?