Ironclad - TV Review

My, what a big sword you have, etc, etc.

Ironclad - which is not the slightly-misspelt sequel to Iron Man or The Iron Lady - sees James Purefoy return to the medieval version of buckling swashes, after the reasonable success of dancing-with-the-devil flick, Solomon Kane.

Here, the story is more straightforwardly associated with 13th century lore as Marshal (Purefoy) and a band of other noble knights seek to stop King John (Paul Giamatti, an odd casting choice if ever there was one) reclaiming the rights he relinquished to the law of the Magna Carta.

If that sounds like your bag of buckled swashes then Ironclad will probably tick the same number of your boxes as this review currently has done for people who like re-ordered medieval turns of phrase. Jonathan English, a director surely picked on the basis of his name alone, makes the whole thing look grubby and gives expert spittle-spouters Giamatti and Brian Cox lots of lovely soliloquies to launch in the other's direction whenever the opportunity presents itself, you know, just like you imagine everyone with any sense of nobility did as a regular pass-time during the middle ages.

Elsewhere, the film counts as a success for a couple of reasons, chief amongst them being the pleasantly robust and bloody battles. When someone gets chopped in the shoulder by a bloody great axe it feels like they've been chopped in the shoulder by a bloody great axe; none of this distinctly squirmish cutting away that seems to blight this genre more often than not. There's also the romance between Isabel (Kate Mara) and Marshal to keep you interested whilst a spot of siege mentality and horse-eating goes on, although, frankly, if you're in any doubt what's going to happen after the first eyelid flutter then you need to go and check out a Rom-Com or two.

Notable also for Jamie Foreman's (Eastenders' Derek Branning) turn as an illiterate henchman. If he ever wanted it then a role as a Hollywood villain in any B-movie you care to mention could surely be his.

Ironclad was showing on Sky's Anytime service.

Look further...

'but when the film earns a few unintentional laughs at the earnestness to which it strives for but never quite achieves, you will likely recover and ask for more' - Row Three

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