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Being a somewhat original historical action movie for people who really like skiing.
Yes. This. I am bringing back Friday Night Netflix, a very sporadic feature I used to do around the time I first started this blog. Back then I wrote these as a way to review movies I’d seen a bunch of times that I figured were underseen but easily available on Netflix. Now I’m expanding that to include movies I’ve never seen before, also easily available on Netflix, whether I like them or not. And no, Netflix doesn’t pay me to write these, but they certainly could and I wouldn’t mind.
For The Last King, a Norwegian and Irish co-production about an interesting period in Norway’s (very interesting) history… I guess I kind of liked it? It’s more like an 80’s buddy movie with delusions of historical epic than it is like a Kingdom of Heaven or even the show Vikings. The production is detailed and the action is coherent, but the story is about as straightforward and characters as archetypal and broadly sketched as an 80’s or early 90’s Schwarzenegger vehicle. None of this is bad, but wrapped in a package that lacks any particularly standout performances or “holy shit” moments, it might not be propulsive enough to hold the interests of people who can see a better version of basically the same stuff elsewhere on Netflix (The Last Kingdom for instance).
That said, this movie has some novel action (skiing fights!) and takes place in an unfamiliar setting. Norway and Scandinavia are usually explored in terms of the Viking era and rarely any other era. This movie takes place in the 13th century during a civil war period. You don’t really need to know much background, but this movie sent me down a wikipedia rabbit hole of Norwegian history so hey, interesting stuff. Read the rest of this entry »
Ironclad is a balls out and violent movie in a genre I think we should call Hardcore History. It isn’t quite an historical epic, its scope is much too small for that and it takes liberties of course, but it does bother to deliver the versimillitude we might expect from such a movie. It belongs in the same category of less expansive movies like Centurion or Black Death which are a great counterpoint to the Big Ones like Braveheart, Kingdom of Heaven or last year’s deplorable Robin Hood. The reason we should call movies like Ironclad Hardcore History movies is that, like certain HBO shows I could name, they are just as concerned with blood, tits, and old school heroism as they are about politics, period detail, and thinly veiled parallels to current events. Read the rest of this entry »