Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Wow. What a movie:
- Seige engines
- Gritty bloody medieval warfare
- Evil king
- Brave knights
- Amazing battle scenes
- Tunneling under castle walls
- Terrific special effects
- Great costumes
Production values are top-notch, plus the cast is excellent. Paul Giamatti as the evil King John is positively dastardly.
Wondering how much of this has any bearing on actual history I pulled out volume 2 of my 1825 edition of The History of England from the Revolution of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 by David Hume and T. Smollett to check.
Yep. John was as bad as portrayed in this film. While the film’s details are probably somewhat fanciful, John’s behavior overall was definitely not what you want to see in a monarch.
What the history book does help explain is why the French were willing to help save those opposing John. John had a history of bad blood not only with the French but also with the barons running different areas of England at the time. His craziness, displayed clearly in the film, built up a lot of enemies, hence the battle for Richmond Castle that takes up most of this film.
A word of warning: blood and gore abound in this film. Hand to hand combat involved hacking at the opponent with swords, axes, or anything else with a sharp edge.
Movie review copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald