Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ironclad

There are some classic tales that are retold time and time again. Sometimes these retellings are fairly obvious such as when the Seven Samurai became the Magnificent Seven and other times, such as with Ironclad, it's the theme of the elements, that of a small group holding against a larger one, that is lifted until a new telling.

Ironclad takes many liberties with history but remains an entertaining film painting the heroic defenders with broad strokes and showcasing the vital nature of skilled and passionate warriors against the nameless hordes. In many ways, it makes a great showcase of how a unique group assembled for their talents may have that one last glorious battle against overwhelming odds.

Such a methodology sounds like the makings of an excellent one shot. Several characters all of advanced years and abilities that may not know each other but do know the stakes in the latest game, all assembled together to protect something or someone.

Some of the things I enjoyed about the film include its visuals. For the most part, the inhabitants of the world are gritty and dirty and having thick bears or in need of a shave. This dark outlook paints the setting in ways that modern television often fails to. Few people look perfect, few people look like the actors they are. Instead they look like they could all use a bath and a good meal.

The nature of the siege also gets a few winks but not a ton of devoted efforts. For example, while there are some siege weapons brought into play both for offense and defense, it's more the nature of man against man that takes the spotlight. In terms of healing, no dedicated doctors here. Burn those wounds closed or choke off the blood flow and fight on. There is an innovative use of pigs where the pig fat burns so quickly and so hot that it essentially acts as a cannon being fired straight upward and that destroys a large chunk of the castle but that required some sapping, some digging under the castle proper to use.

And during the siege there are bits for individual heroic actions. For example, during the long part of the siege where the enemy tries to starve out the defenders, one of those defenders makes his way to the enemy encampment and steals some food. Nothing like a morale builder that comes straight from the enemy himself.

Ironclad uses the frame of a classic story and for those who enjoy seeing this style of movie, a fake historical fictional tale, it does so fairly well. For those whose enjoyment comes from historical accuracy or other details, this move should be passed unless you enjoy the gore feast that  follows from the clash of steel on steel.