Review by Dan Skip Allen
I've seen a lot of films about various times in the history of the world. There has rarely been an era I haven't seen covered a film or a television show on. Most of them have been pretty good. Gladiator, 300, Rome, Spartacus, and Ben Hur come to mind. These are just a handful of historical epics that have been covered at various times. Medieval is the newest historical epic, but it covers a time and place I haven't seen covered before on the big screen, Czechoslovakia.
Jan Zitka (Ben Foster, The Survivor, 3:10 to Yuma) is a young soldier caught up in the Hussite Wars. This story takes place before he became a military commander/icon and warlord. He has to deal with treachery all around him, which prepared him for his eventual place in Czech history. His daughter Katherine (Sophie Rowe) plays a big part in how his story unfolds. With many men trying to help their kings rule, it isn't an easy time to be around. It's even harder to keep your head.
Petr Jákl is a Czech director, so this material has to mean a lot to him, and he wanted to bring it to the big screen. He has infused this film with a lot of blood and violence, making it more authentic to the time it takes place. This wasn't a nice time to be around, being a very violent era in world history. The 13th century was a barbaric time no matter where people lived, especially in Europe, where everybody wanted to rule the world.
Jákl was so confident in this historical action epic that he enlisted the help of some big-name talent in various supporting roles in the film. The most notable are Michael Caine as Lord Boresh, Matthew Goode as King Sigmund, and Til Schwieger as Rosenberg. These men played a game of thrones before the phrase became popular in our vernacular. There weren't many political discussions in those days. Swords, axes, and bows and arrows did all the talking for these men.
With historical war epics such as this, you must have an authentic look and feel to the film. The movie has a lot of gray and brown hues to show the era's dirtiness, but there are times when the film looks beautiful with sunsets and green forests that haven't been covered in death just yet, or the light hits them at the right time in the day. The costume and make-up, and hairstyling work are first-rate throughout the film. Every aspect of the technical side of this movie was well thought out and implemented to perfection. This film looked and felt like a historical epic.
Medieval is a movie that lives up to the great historical epics of the past. Jákl has combined a great cast with Foster in the lead role with fantastic action and bloody violence. The look of the film rivals any in the past, with the characters looking the parts they play to a tee. Not having known about this man or his story before didn't prevent me from watching it with open eyes. It is an achievement in filmmaking by this Czech director, one whom I look forward to seeing more from in the future. The motto of the main character, "For Honor, For Justice, For Freedom," is one we all should live by.
Medieval hits theaters on September 9.