Courtesy, The Avenue

Movie Review: Medieval

15:00 September 19, 2022
By: Fritz Esker

Hollywood has released precious little of interest to theaters since mid-August (although the calendar looks more promising from mid-September onwards). The historical epic Medieval does nothing to change that.

Ben Foster plays Czech warlord Jan Zizka. He and his men are contracted to kidnap the fiancee (Sophie Ward) of a local lord (Til Schweiger) in league with the king's sinister brother (Matthew Goode). In doing so, they hope to gain leverage and help secure power for King Wenceslas (Karel Roden).

The clumsy script has a lot of exposition in the early part. But even after it gets all of the exposition out, the interactions between characters remain stilted. The wooden dialogue leaves the actors stranded. Foster and Goode have done strong work in other films, and cinema treasure Michael Caine also appears in the movie, but they have nothing to work with. Foster and Ward have zero romantic chemistry.

The only thing that makes Medieval stand out is its nauseating, over-the-top gore. Even people like me, who grew up on gory 80s action and horror films will find themselves wincing at the frequently disgusting carnage here. And because the script fails to make any of the characters seem recognizably human or interesting, the result is long stretches of tedium, interrupted by bursts of sickening violence. When a movie is as ugly as Medieval often is, it puts extra pressure on its filmmakers to deliver a compelling story or characters to make the unpleasantness worthwhile. Writer/director Petr Jakl does not deliver that.

If you're looking for a nasty medieval-set film about warlords kidnapping a noblewoman, try Paul Verhoeven's (Robocop, Total Recall) 1985 effort Flesh + Blood with Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh instead.

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