VOD film review: Ironclad 2
Ivan Radford | On 30, Jul 2014
Director: Jonathan English
Cast: Tom Rhys Harries, Tom Austen
Watch Ironclad 2 online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Amazon Instant Video
Several years ago, a hacking, slashing epic with a camp sense of humour and a playful approach to history won over audiences with its graphic violence and over-the-top acting. No, not 300 – Ironclad. Now, that period silliness returns in a sequel nobody asked for. No, not 300: Rise of an Empire – Ironclad: Battle for Blood.
From the opening clash, director Jonathan English makes it clear that he has no intention of scaling down the violence. The trouble is that in trying so hard to top the brutality of the first film, things like characters or fun are swiftly forgotten.
The cast do try. Tom Rhys Harries (who impressed so much in Hunky Dory) gives good vulnerability as Hubert, whose dad is fatally wounded by the Scottish clan from over the hill, while Tom Austen is manly and male as Guy, the butch estranged-cousin-turned-mercenary the family need to defend their keep.
Revenge? A siege? People with not many clothes on? So far, so epic. The problem? You don’t care about any of it.
A thankless damsel in distress and a highly dubious female character (who tries on every stereotype, from man-eating rapist to love interest and violent warrior) only remind you how shallow the script is. The Scottish tribe, meanwhile, are laughable, from the angry, hairy one to the bald, staring one.
There is some satisfaction to be had in seeing people decapitated and their bowels forcibly ejected from their body, but English’s increasing reliance on shaky cameras only makes the conflict feel more confusing – and look far cheaper.
With the head of the Scots’ son also downed in the fray, the straight-faced band of cardboard cut-outs find themselves in a blood feud that threatens to go on and on and on. In the original, the entertaining, hammy trio of James Purefoy, Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti kept you laughing as you sympathised with the soldiers stuck in a stalemate. In this grim sequel, the prospect of endless, cheerless combat feels all too real.