Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Action, History
  • 2011

Ironclad

Ironclad

Synopsis

Paul Giamatti and James Purefoy star in this 13th Century epic showdown between power-hungry King John and some noble noblemen.

About

Ironclad is, to all intents and purposes, a prefab medieval blood-and-guts saga - the story of how Bad King John's quest to regain absolute power after reneging on the Magna Carta was challenged by A Few Good Men. It features requisite grubby peasants-in-stocks, a noble young squire who comes of age in the hour of battle (Aneurin Barnard), an honourable Templar Knight (James Purefoy) fighting worldly desires, and several wenches well-endowed in the cleavage department but less so in their dialogue share.

It's notable for its scenes of extreme gore - in instances of especially gruesome decapitations/amputations blood actually splatters the lens, splashes of colour which make a welcome change from the sludgy 13th century palette which dominates most of the film's two-hour running time. Paul Giamatti also stands out, apparently starring in an entirely different film from his fellow cast members - acting up to the hilt as Bad King John, he resembles a deranged toddler with a divine birthright, stomping up and down like a male forbear of Blackadder's Queenie.

The film's intended climax is no doubt when the extended siege of Rochester Castle comes to an end, or when Purefoy's knight finally gives in to horny wench #1 (Kate Mara) after much displacement activity in the shape of sword-polishing and horse-grooming. But the showdown between Evil Giamatti and the good guys, who hurl schoolyard insults at each other across crenellations (sample: "You're no more a king than the boil on my arse!" - though sadly the screenwriters refrained from the anachronism of actually using the words "You and me - outside, now") definitely deserves a look-in.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Kate Mara, James Purefoy, Derek Jacobi, Paul Giamatti
  • Director: Jonathan English
  • Writer: Jonathan English
  • Photographer: David Eggby
  • Composer: Lorne Balfe

In a nutshell

A medieval siege is, by definition, un-cinematic and un-dramatic: ugly, monotonous and involving a lot of waiting, no matter how many tantrums Giamatti throws or gory interludes the screenwriters sandwich in.

by Sophie Ivan

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Harry Hill Movie

    A feature length musical-comedy starring one of TV's most recognisable faces, with Julie Walters and Matt Lucas.

  • Film4

    Leaves of Grass

    Edward Norton stars in a double role as twin brothers who get involved in a foolish and dangerous scheme in writer-director-actor Tim Blake Nelson's comedy-drama.

  • Film4

    Action Month 2016 on Film4

    A whole month of action favourites every night at 9.00pm throughout June.

  • Film4

    Oldboy on Film4

    Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson star in Spike Lee's remake of the Korean hit, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Five questions for Jim Gillespie

    We grabbed five minutes with Jim Gillespie after his Edinburgh International Film Festival directing masterclass to put five burning questions to the man behind I Know What You Did Last Summer, whose

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Clio Barnard's Dark River starts shooting

    Principal photography has commenced on Dark River, the third feature film from writer/director Clio Barnard (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant), starring Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Saving Mr Banks), Mark Sta

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share