Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ironclad (2011) - ActionFest Buffet 2.0: Appetizer


On the Menu:
IRONCLAD (2011)
Ingredients: James Purefoy, Paul Giamatti, Kate Mara, Brian Cox, Jason Flemyng, Mackenzie Cook, Jamie Foreman, Aneurin Barnard, Rhys Parry Jones and Derek Jacobi. Directed by Jonathan English. Run time: 121 minutes. Rated: R. 

At First Bite: I missed out on the opening film at last year's ActionFest, which was CENTURION. However, this time around I took some vacation days in order to make sure I got as many movies as possible. The plot summary in the program for IRONCLAD piqued my interest. Basically, King John (Giamatti) is forced to sign the Magna Carta, but then goes back on his word to regain his tyrannical control of England. A Templar Knight named Thomas Marshall (Purefoy) teams up with six other men to defend the castle at Rochester, which was a major strategic position.

Tough to Swallow: The historical aspect isn't quite correct as King John and his men actually overtook Rochester by starvation. William d'Aubigny (Albany in the film) was imprisoned; he lived another 21 years after the siege of Rochester Castle. Not quite sure the French showed up either. All in all, a much bleaker reality.

The sword Marshall uses didn't exist in the 13th century; swords of the period were usually 3-feet in length and made for use with one hand. 

Something to Chew On: The movie was shot in Wales.


Richard Attenborough was cast, but had to drop out due to health issues.

Angus Macfadyen was cast as Coteral, but dropped out when the movie was refinanced.

Megan Fox was rumored to have a role.

Giamatti filmed his scenes in 7 days.

Stunt coordinator Richard Ryan said the stuntmen created a drinking game for the film -- each guy would take a shot when he saw himself get killed on screen. Ryan stated one stuntman died 15 times, and twice in the same fight.

Aftertaste: Well, the quick editing and close shots make the first few fights hard to follow. Once the story moves to Rochester, the fights are violently brutal. There's some serious head-bashing, limb-chopping and torso-splitting happening here. And, it's pretty freakin' sweet. Luckily, most of the two hours is spent in Rochester.

I have to admit it was slightly humorous to see Paul Giamatti in the role of King John. A majority of the theater audience laughed out loud when he first appeared on screen. But, no matter how odd the casting may seem, I couldn't help think it was a genius decision by the end credits. He's perfect at displaying skeeviness, dejection and patheity, but he also can bring the in-your-face insanity.

I've never seen "Rome," so I'm not all that familiar with James Purefoy's work. I only know him as King Edward in A KNIGHT'S TALE. He's Gerard Butler-lite, I guess you could say. He definitely kicks some butt and takes some names.

Not too sure about the love story, but Kate Mara is excellent eye candy. The one-liners fell to Brian Cox, who didn't disappoint. It was great to see Charles Dance again, and had I gone back to the theater at midnight I could have seen him in YOUR HIGHNESS as well.

Stunt coordinator Richard Ryan was in the audience, and did a short Q&A after the movie.

Bloody, bloody and bloody. A perfect way to open a film festival devoted to action.

Rating:

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