Reviews and ratings: 60 %
Historical / Action / Drama, Czech 2022, 125min. The story of fifteenth century Czech icon and warlord Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.
- Good choices for the cast of actors
- Lots of action and blood
- Good atmosphere
- Main hero’s romantic story line is a bit weak
- Historical movie type cliches
- Everyone gets enough screen time, but low amount of lines to say
Medieval Review: Ben Foster Fails to Resonate in Brutal Czech Epic
Medieval tries to follow a similar track as Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. The heroic fighter and regal lady become enamored while fending off evil aristocrats. Foster and Lowe have little chemistry together. It doesn’t help that the plot has her constantly escaping and being recaptured. There’s little time for them to establish a viable connection. Žižka is a beast on the battlefield but understated as the protagonist. The character should have been more dynamic and intense for cinematic reasons. That’s a knock on the director and script. Foster has proven screen presence.
Medieval succeeds at portraying the cruel Middle Ages and Jan Žižka’s tactical prowess. You get your fill of war, despair, and subjugation. It sadly misses the mark everywhere else. The plot and characters don’t resonate when they should have been impactful. Read full review…
‘Medieval’ review: This Czech ‘Braveheart’ doesn’t know what it’s fighting for
“Medieval” is a film with an identity crisis, caught between its lowbrow sword-and-splatter charms and grander ambitions. As a quick and dirty 90-minute corker, it could have been a nice and nasty slice of genre filmmaking, but Jakl aims for something more epic in scope, and the film drags, easily 30 minutes too long. Not even the electrifying Foster is enough to zap some life into this tale of court intrigue and resulting clash of warriors. Lowe attempts to hold the heart of the matter, but she’s not given enough to do.
The clarity of message gets hopelessly bogged down in the internecine conflicts of all the players, the script utterly convoluted even though the film is essentially just a bunch of guys killing each other in the woods while a pair of brothers squabble over who gets to be king. What exactly Jan is fighting for feels dreadfully unclear, despite vague aphorisms like “honor, justice, freedom, faith, hope” intoned over the final frames. We’ll have to take your word for it. Read full review…
When Medieval focuses on swordplay and stagecraft, the film belongs in the mix alongside Black Death and Outlaw King as overlooked period action titles of varying self-importance. Its brutality is often refreshing, and director Petr Jákl and cinematographer Jesper Tøffner balance sweeping aerial shots with chaotic and brutal fight sequences – Foster’s character fights with a maul, and Medieval does not skimp on the facial deconstructions. But the film also works to mythologize Jan Žižka – already a historical Czech icon – with both a love story and a political rebirth, and Medieval can feel a bit bloated when these narratives are vying for screen time.
But even if Medieval occasionally succumbs to its worst biopic influences, it’s still a delightfully confident work from a filmmaking team that knows its way around a sword. In the film’s climax, a character pauses outside a castle door, flinging it open to reveal a chaotic battle raging along the keep’s walls. It’s the kind of shot many big-budget franchises would kill to execute; in Medieval, it’s just one of several top-notch fight sequences. If the current downturn in Hollywood means more films like Medieval will slip into multiplexes unchallenged, well, let’s count our blessings where we find them. Read full review…
‘Medieval’ Review: A Czech Folk Legend Turns Action Hero
It does go over the top occasionally (especially toward the end), and the dialogue is a bit too on-the-nose at times, simplifying matters to the kind of generic catchphrase that crosses all moviegoing borders. One could also balk at the levying of a modern sensibility on other aspects, such as having a sheltered noble heroine who’s somehow acquired progressive social ideas, not to mention unexpected medical and diving skills. But this isn’t “Marketa Lazarova,” and on its own up-to-the-moment stylistic terms, “Medieval” works just fine. As far as historical veracity goes, well, this epoch will be very foreign terrain for most viewers, who will come away with at least a general sense of the period, if not a lot of trustworthy answers to any classroom quiz. Read full review…
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