‘Medieval’ is without a doubt the bloodiest film of the year as of right now. The film as a whole is absolutely full of gruesome effects which will no doubt make audiences squirm. But apart from these blood and guts, ‘Medieval’ does not have much to offer to the table. The film follows the legendary Jan Žižka and his rise to becoming a great military commander. He is portrayed in the film as a strong and intelligent leader who is able to lead small groups against large armies with success. The character of Jan Žižka is played quite well by Ben Foster. He is among other standouts in the cast including Sir Michael Caine who plays a Lord in the film.
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Overall, however, while the acting may be quite strong and the effects done quite well the story falls behind and does not allow ‘Medieval’ to climb to the height that it could have risen to. This is because the story as a whole is at times quite confusing and hard to follow while also being slightly dull. Most of the film’s strong points fall in the film’s many action sequences which actually play out quite well. Again these sequences are absolutely full to the brim with guts and gore. But these action and battle sequences alone cannot save the film from a flawed backbone.
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A flawed story
Where ‘Medieval’ falls short is the story. As mentioned previously, the story itself is quite layered and at times can be very hard to follow. There are simply too many characters and too many alliances and plots against other characters in the story to follow. In the theater, I was left at times just scratching my head in an attempt to figure out who was friends with who and who was plotting against who.
On top of this, the story itself is one that is not the most original. It is a battle story that we have seen a thousand times already and altogether nothing new or original. While we may have never seen the characters before, the story follows the same overall plot line as any other movie about a war commander.
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Beautiful production design and costumes
While the story of ‘Medieval’ may be flawed, one aspect of the film that is not flawed is the film’s production design and costumes. The commitment to establishing an older time period is executed quite well and is impressive overall. The sweeping drone shots and close-ups of the characters’ grimy mud-stained faces really make a statement and is quite impressive.
Every aspect of the film feels real and as if it is actually established in the time period in which ‘Medieval’ takes place. This is all due to the film’s production design with backdrops that consist of great castles and beautiful European landscapes. The costumes and production design of ‘Medieval’ are without a doubt one of the stronger aspects of the film.
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Dialogue within the film
Another weaker aspect of the film is the character’s dialogue. However, it is not the words that are spoken which is the problem, it is instead how they are spoken. It could just be me but I found that the words being spoken in this film were at times very hard to understand and follow. They at times, to me at least, almost sounded like complete gibberish. This was a huge problem for me as it pushed me further away from being able to fully comprehend the story as a whole.
Again this could have just been me, but at certain points, in the film, I had a very hard time understanding what was being said. I felt that many of the lines in the film were mumbled and otherwise were very difficult to understand altogether. This was very frustrating as a viewer as I badly wanted to understand what these characters were saying to one another but I simply could not grasp what they were saying.
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‘Medieval’ as a whole
Altogether ‘Medieval’ is a film which I have seen before. The story is one which I have witnessed in other war films which are of a similar nature to ‘Medieval.’ But this does not mean that ‘Medieval’ is a complete waste. There are a number of aspects of ‘Medieval’ that I actually very much enjoyed. The main parts of the film which I enjoyed thoroughly were the film’s production design and costumes. As I mentioned earlier, these aspects of the film really put the audience into the time period that the film takes place in and solidify it as a solid-looking period piece.
Yet there are other aspects of the film which I either did or did not enjoy. The film’s cinematography is another aspect of the film which I enjoyed immensely. As I mentioned previously, the drone shots and close-ups really bring you into the world of the characters.
However, the film’s dialogue also hindered the enjoyment of the film’s cinematography. I thought that the dialogue was confusing and even at times hard to understand. I thought that the lines in the film were not delivered as well as they could have been. I believe that the film would have been much better if the dialogue was delivered in the native tongue of Jan Žižka and his men. I believe that this would have added a layer of originality to the film and that it also would have further increased the realism of the film as a whole. I recognize that this may have been very difficult to pull off on set but I believe that ‘Medieval’ would have been much better for it.
Overall, I thought ‘Medieval’ was a semi-solid historical war film with a pretty well-rounded cast. While the cinematography, makeup, and hairstyling may have been great, the film’s unoriginal story and poor dialogue really bring the film down from what it could have been. You should see ‘Medieval’ if you really enjoy historical war films but other than that, honestly, I would not recommend checking it out otherwise.
Make sure to check out ‘The Woman King,’ a new historical war film that will be in theaters soon.
Cast: Ben Foster, Michael Caine, Matthew Goode
Director/Writer: Petr Jákl
Producers: Petr Jákl, Kevin Bernhardt, Cassian Elwes
By Nathaniel Lee
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