At the start of the millennium – Ridley Scott revived the sword and sandals epic historical movies. Gladiator with Russell Crowe as the man in the arena got audiences thrilled again with movies about centuries past. Following Gladiator, there was a slew of movies on the Romans, Viking, Middle Ages, and so on. Scott himself dabbled in things medieval with Kingdom of Heaven. But there were also some stinkers – such as Ironclad.
How can anybody get King John – meanest and nastiest king of the Middle Ages – so wrong? Not that Paul Giamatti didn’t act his little socks off to float this creaking hulk of a film. But all other elements of the movie dragged him down to the bottom.
Fans of the Knights Templar got themselves excited as they were part of the plot. Even if there was no attempt at historical accuracy with the emphasis on telling a good yarn. Trouble, is, Ironclad didn’t manage to do that very well either.
As I’m sure you’ll all agree, there are historical movies that are terrible to view the first time but then age like a fine wine. Season of the Witch came out in the same year as Ironclad – 2011 – but has become surprisingly watchable. The main reason being that Nicholas Cage is the master of camp nonsense whereas nothing and nobody redeemed Ironclad, sadly.
In the final analysis, you can have lashings of gore and blood but what Cage can tell film makers is that there has to be an element of hokum – fun, even. And although Ironclad served up some unintentionally silly lines like King John being described as a “boil on my arse”, it still lacked that harebrained banter that makes a Cage movie hilarious to watch.
Incredibly, there was a sequel. It passed me by completely. Maybe because it scored 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. And I think that’s all we need to know…