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IRONCLAD (2011) on Astini News


My thoughts? 7/10

Perhaps I was predisposed to like it, but I had a pretty good time with the movie. It depicted the reality of medieval combat in a way few films do, refusing to shy away from bodily harm those heavy iron weapons would inflict. Additionally, the battle scenes were generally well shot and staged. At times a tad confusing, but not utter chaos like the BAD ASS DIGEST review lead me to believe. Overall I'd compare it to 13 ASSASSINS, a film it closely resembles. The influence of SEVEN SAMURAI  is heavy in both films, and both tell very similar stories, using many of the same cinematic techniques. In IRONCLAD, I enjoyed the story because Purefoy was a capable hero and Giamotti made for a loathsome villain, but I will admit that the characterization (just as in 13 ASSASSINS) fell a bit flat. It was hard to care about many of the side characters. Kate Mara was a snooze, and didn't seem terribly talented. You could say her part was underwritten, but all the same I felt that a better actress could have done more with the material. As for Purefoy, his skills as an actor are above reproach, but his character was sullen and hard to like. I wanted to see Purefoy as he was on ROME: a lion of a man, possessed of unapologetically rapacious appetites, and a smug, overt sexuality. Instead we got a prototypical christian knight, who spent the entire film fretting over whether or not attraction to the opposite sex was a sin. Purefoy is at his best when he's reveling in his base instincts, and IRONCLAD forced him to bury those under a metric ton of over pious christian morality. The few moments where he was allowed to unleash his animal nature (mostly during the fight scenes) showed his mastery of the screen, I just wished he'd gotten more of a chance to shine. 'Sulking about' is not an activity suited to Purefoy. His one liners were delivered with an exhilarating intensity, and I hope whoever he works with next will give him a opportunity to fully showcase his skill set

In the final battle, when the Danish baddie quips "Where's your faith now, Templar?", Purefoy's reply is delivered with effortless cool: "Come here, and I'll show you"

In any other actors mouth, that dialog would seem anonymous, as if culled from virtually any forgettably archetypical action script

Hearing those words from Purefoy, it's rousing and fresh

One final note: while the medieval period is not necessarily my favorite, I've had an interest in castles and siege warfare from an early age (I'm strange like that..) and so getting an action film centered on castles and produced on a relatively hefty budget was a dream come true. I mean, come on.. the third act is precipitated by sappers setting pigs alight! Any film that bothers with such details, and includes dialog like "Of course I know the virtues of a Norman keep!" is in my book doing something very right

To sum up: the movie was fun (though the momentum does wane a bit in the second act), and the world needs to wake up and start casting Purefoy in more stuff. The man is pure class!

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