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Iron Clad, a Review
Middle Ages Bravery and Cruelty
They say that truth is often stranger than fiction, but that's not the case here. Given that this is a semi-historical "story," you'd think there would be at least a few surprises or twists ... sadly, there aren't any.
Everything about the film is completely predictable from beginning to end. You know James Purefoy will break his vow of silence and join a very small collection of soldiers to hold Rochester. You know he is going to fall for King John's wife. You know that the group of determined siege defenders will have a spectacular victory -- at least for round one. You know that King John's right-arm man (a giant Dane) will ultimately confront Purefoy in a tide-turning battle. You know the French would arrive (like the cavalry from a run-of-the mill western) at the very moment when Rochester is being overturned. I could go on forever.
Besides being predictable I believe Paul Giamatti was terribly miscast as King John. I like him as an actor, but the part really demanded someone with greater presence and majesty (evil majesty).
The one scene that captivated me was when King John's men and/or the hired Danish use pigs to build a highly destructive bomb that blows half the castle apart. I had never known about this pig-fat tactic, so it was interesting/different.
The action sequences are via hand-held, jittery camera work. The goal seems to have been to show as much gore as possible.
This is a low-budget film, so instead of the two thousand men that King John says he has at his disposal, you never get the sense there are any more stunt actors than a hundred (give or take).
There were several moments when the thought, "I wish this was over" popped into my head -- so that kind of demonstrates my depth of absorption in this basic failure of a movie.