Film: Ironclad

Ironclad is a 2011 action film directed by Jonathan English. Written by English and Erick Kastel, based on a screenplay by Stephen McDool

It is the year 1215 and the rebel barons of England have forced their despised King John to put his royal seal to the Magna Carta, a noble, seminal document that upheld the rights of free-men. Yet within months of pledging himself to the great charter, the King reneged on his word and assembled a mercenary army on the south coast of England with the intention of bringing the barons and the country back under his tyrannical rule. Barring his way stood the mighty Rochester castle, a place that would become the symbol of the rebel's momentous struggle for justice and freedom.

A sequel, called Ironclad II: Battle for Blood was released in 2014, telling the story of a survivor from the siege defending his home from Celtic raiders.

This film contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Justified and downplayed with Isabel and Agnes. Justified since women often helped in the defense during sieges by throwing things, cooking hot oil and sometimes fighting as well. Downplayed in that Marshall does not want them to learn how to fight, since he will supposedly protect them, but they still have to eventually. This while he is out for the count. When the castle is breached at the end, Agnes and Isabel each rack up a body count.
  • An Arm and a Leg: King John punishes several of the rebels like this, including d'Aubigny.
  • Anti-Villain: Tiberius doesn't really care that much about John's war, he just wants to make sure that his lands escape Christianization. And thus, realizes that he needs John's support to make that happen. Yes, Denmark was already Christianized by this point, but hey.
  • A Father to His Men: Marshall and Tiberius are this.
  • Alternate History: Becomes this in the end after Rochester Castle is relieved by a French army, Prince Louis takes the throne, and King John dies of dysentery after he is ousted from power.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Taken to ludicrious extremes with Marshall. Lady Isabel constantly hounds him to the point of telling him, to his face, his vows to *God* are not as important as him shagging her. It almost comes across as cruel given how tormented Marshall is by guilt after giving into his lust.
  • Artistic License History:
    • Historically, the King's forces successfully captured Rochester. Prince Louis would not arrive until a few months later.
    • William D'Aubergny did command the garrison, but survived the battle. After John died, he became a loyalist to young Henry III and helped capture Lincoln in 1217.
    • Louis and the rebellious barons were defeated in 1217, unlike the "victory" described at the end of the film.
    • The Magna Carta, while retrospectively regarded as setting an important precedent for limitation on the king's power and setting the foundations for modern democracy, was at the time mainly intended to protect the authority of the barons. King John merely sealed it rather than signing it (he was probably illiterate).
    • The Danes had been Christianized for some time prior to the events of the movie, yet are here played as still pagan and fighting specifically due to John's promise that he will convince the Pope to leave them in peace. Additionally, very few of John's mercenaries were actually Danes. Their leader also has the very Roman name Tiberius.
    • Although the longsword began to develop in its early forms in the late-12th century, such early examples were little more than arming swords with longer handles. The fully two-handed longsword as used by Marshall did not begin to appear until the 14th and 15th centuries.
    • Rochester castle is beautifully realized, but there's no sign of the Norman Cathedral that should be right next door, nor of the city of Rochester itself on the river bank.
  • An Axe to Grind: Tiberius' weapon of choice.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Many of the Danish soldiers are played by Hungarian stuntmen, and can be heard speaking perfect Hungarian.
  • Archer Archetype: Marks
  • Arranged Marriage: Isabel and Reginald.
  • Bad Ass Army: The Templars. When three Templars without any weapons attack the Danish mercenaries, they kill a dozen at least easily before overcome by superior numbers. Rochester's garrison also becomes this, as they hold off an army of a thousand men for several months.
  • Battle Strip: Tiberias spends most of the film in a badass black-leather-and-cloak ensemble. For the final assault, he strips to the waist and paints himself blue. This may contribute to his defeat; even leather armour could probably have blunted the thrust of a broken sword.
  • BFS: Marshall's templar longsword. He manages to cut a Danish mercenary in half along with the axe he tried to use to block Marshall's swing. As well as the guy behind him. And someone else's hand.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Thomas, Beckett, d'Aubigny and their allies.
  • Bilingual Bonus: We hear some Latin at the dinner table.
  • Blade on a Stick: Many examples are seen in the battle sequences.
  • The Cavalry: The French
  • Celibate Hero: Played straight at first then predictably averted as Thomas breaks his vows falling for Isabel.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Paul Giamatti gives us a very lively performance as King John.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: This is King John we're talking about.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Twenty are able to hold off an army of a thousand men.
  • Corrupt Church: The Pope gives King John a green pass on retaking the castles by force, even after signing the Magna Carta.
  • Death by Adaptation: d'Aubigny. In real life, he survived the siege of Rochester Castle, although he was imprisoned by John after its capture.
  • The Dragon: Tiberius. Not that he's happy about it.
    • And from the alternate perspective, Marshal is this to the Archbishop.
  • Driven to Suicide: Reginald de Cornhill, who hangs himself and Lady Isabel's lady's maid, Maddy, who leaps to her death.
  • Drop the Hammer
  • Epic Flail: When the Danes make it into the courtyard, Thomas bursts out of the armory, mounted on his horse and wielding a flail, which he uses to great effect to allow the others to retreat to the keep.
  • Eat the Dog: During the siege the garrison had to kill and eat their horses (minus Marshall's because its a templar horse, and they are required to die in battle).
  • Fake Brit: Paul Giamatti as King John.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Wulfstan. When they recruit him, he tells the girls if he hasn't come back in a certain amount of time, they should go to some relatives and work right away; needless to say that he dies.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Almost always inverted—nearly every grievous injury gets a brief close-up. Played straight with the deaths of Wulfstan and Beckett.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Coteral kills a Dane with a dismembered arm.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: King John and William d'Aubigny get a couple. They are unsurprisingly glorious.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: None of the main characters wear them. Marshall doesn't even bother with his coif, though he does wear a great helm when he rides out against the Danish to hold them back to allow the others to retreat.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Coteral and Beckett.
  • Historical-Domain Character: King John, Reginald de Cornhill, the Archbishop of Canterbury and William d'Aubigny.
  • Kill 'em All: Only Lady Isabel, Marshall and Guy survive.
  • Knight Templar: Thomas Marshall, in the literal sense. Also quite possibly the only film in which the Templar characters are unequivocally the good guys.
  • Last Stand: Executed in the most stoic manner possible.
    "WE HOLD!!!"
  • Large Ham: They really didn't need all those fancy siege instruments. Paul Giamatti's King John manages to chew up the entire castle on his own. Brian Cox's Baron d'Aubigny gets pretty hammy at times, too.
    "I am the blood! I am God's right hand! And you will never dictate to me how I am to be a king!"
  • Leave Him to Me: When Marshall emerges to fight the Danish mercenaries, Tiberius gives the order: "No one touches him."
  • Magnificent Seven Samurai: It is a group of seven men who are assembled, to defend Rochester Castle against King John's forces. Though subtle, some characterists could be seen as a nod to the classic film(s), such as one of them being a Nave Newcomer, and another shown chopping wood when the hero finds him.
  • Meaningful Name: besides Daniel Marks as mentioned above, Gil Becket shares a name with [[Becket another foe of the Plantagenet family.]]
  • Nave Newcomer: Guy.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Tiberius to King John. He is only doing this to save his people from being forced to convert to Christianity and enslaved since John agreed to talk to the Pope. He cares for his men and in several scenes is disgusted with John's cruelty.
  • Plucky Girl: Lady Isabel, and the serving girl Agnes are good examples, even joining the men in helping to brace the gate from the Danish battering ram attack, and trying their best to fend them off when they break through.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Exchanged between Tiberius and Marshall before their epic final duel.
    Tiberius: "How's your faith now, Templar?"
    Marshall: "Why don't you come a little closer", (kicks his sword into an upright guard position), "and I'll show you."
  • Private Military Contractors: The Danish.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Red Shirt: de Cornhill's unfortunate castle garrison actually do have a red uniform, though they manage to last until the castle is breached.
  • The Siege: Might as well be called Castle Siege: The Movie.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cornhill gives a blistering one to John after he's captured. John doesn't take it well.
  • Warrior Monk: Thomas and the other templars, of course.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film is based on the First Baron's War during King John's reign.