Medieval (2022): A God-Tier Borefest with Gory, But Sloppy Action Scenes

“Medieval” is directed by Petr Jákl (Kajínek, Ghoul) and stars Ben Foster (Warcraft, Hell or High Water), Michael Caine (Interstellar, Batman Begins), Til Schweiger (New Year’s Eve, Inglourious Basterds), William Moseley (The Royals, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Matthew Goode (The Good Wife, Chasing Liberty), and Sophie Lowe (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Adore). This film is about Jan Zizka, a prominent figure in Czech history who fought for freedom against the Holy Roman Empire and the Teutonic Order.

Similar to my recent review for the expensive Bollywood film “Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva,” this is a Scene Before first. I did not know this going in, but “Medieval” is the first Czech film I am reviewing.

I was looking forward to “Medieval.” Some of you reading this may have never heard of this film, and I am not surprised. If I remember correctly, the earliest I have heard about “Medieval” may have been a month or two ago when the first trailer dropped. But I have always had an appreciation for large scale epics. “Medieval” is not the largest of its kind, but it certainly packs an immense feel at times. On the surface, if you want to associate a movie with large scale, “Medieval” makes a compelling argument as to why you should, mainly depending on which market you refer to. The film was produced in the Czech Republic for a budget of KČ500 million, which is $20.3 million in U.S. currency. While the U.S. has produced plenty of films this year for more than $20.3 million like “The Gray Man” and “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Medieval” currently stands as the most expensive Czech film of all time.

While “The Woman King” may be the latest historical epic doing okay at the box office, its success has swept another historical epic under the rug, that being this one. Of course, having mostly positive reviews from critics definitely helps. I have not seen “The Woman King,” therefore I cannot give my thoughts on it, but statistics are statistics. On the other hand, “Medieval” is faring worse with critics with a 36%. Although audiences are clearly liking the film as they have given it a 72%.

Now that I have seen “Medieval,” I am appreciative of the fact that this much effort and money was supposedly put into a film. But it does not make the film good. If anything, “Morbius” has competition for the worst movie of the year.

“Medieval” is a film that tries to come off as dramatic, but only conveys itself as a dreary soap opera-like platter of occasional fight sequences and rivalries. In my history of doing this blog, I have never been so close to falling asleep during a movie. Not even the caffeine in my large Diet Coke could save me. Without research, I would barely be able to tell you anything that happened in this movie. I could tell you some people who are in it. But who does not love Michael Caine? That said, he was not even a highlight in this movie. How bad does your movie have to be for Michael Caine to come off as dull?

As I have mentioned, this film is a large scale epic. Both in terms of atmosphere and budget. Much of the film is shot on location. And there are one or two locations that stood out. I have no desire to travel to those locations after seeing this movie unlike the many New Zealand destinations in “Lord of the Rings,” but nevertheless. The other thing that is supposedly big in a movie like this is the action. When you have a movie where all these people are duking it out, rivaling, trying to defend themselves, you expect the action to be solid. To be honest, I have seen better. The action in “Medieval” barely kept me interested, and there is not much flair to it. Some of the sequences are flimsy and felt surprisingly lifeless as they went on. Although if I could give one notable positive in regard to the action, similar to the one or two neat locations, there are one or two neat deaths. This film is rated R, therefore some gore is expected. I think “Medieval” contained a couple deaths that felt reminiscent of the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” reboot if you were going for a more realistic story and approach.

Is “Medieval” competently filmed? You can say that. The film at least looks presentable. The problem is that I felt my soul was sucked out from scene one. You know how this film is based on historical events? I have read history textbooks with more life and intrigue than what “Medieval” brings to the table. Every time I looked at the screen, it made me tired. It made me drowsy. It made me think I lost my soul. How appropriate, considering the soullessness of the movie. The color grading in “Medieval” reminds me of the 2015 “Point Break” remake. It is washed out and lacks flair. Does it match the dreariness of the film? Sure. Although it also matches the fact that this film lacks flair.

If anything, “Medieval” reminds me of particular history lessons I learned in school, because they are spewed out on a whim, and sometimes delivered in an inconceivably boring manner. Despite having a decent memory, I do not remember much of everything I learned in history class. Similarly, I do not remember much of everything I watched in this movie. Let’s just say the director were to meet with me tomorrow and hand me a pop quiz, I would be begging for a word bank.

“Medieval” is not exactly a happy story. There is war, there is politics, there is gore. I do not mind having an occasional sad or depressing movie every once in a while. But with the case of “Medieval,” its dreariness failed to immerse me into its world. One of my favorite films of last year is Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” because despite it being a somewhat dark and depressing story, it had fascinating characters with decent performances to back everything up. Especially from Jodie Comer. “Medieval” did not have any of that. As far as specific period battle movies go, “Medieval” had the dreariness of “The Last Duel” and the lifelessness of “The Great Wall.” Remember that movie that Matt Damon starred in for some reason?

It is honestly saddening to judge a film this harshly under any circumstance, but when this much money is put into it, it is worse. Because the bigger the budget, the more likely it is that a bad movie is going to lose money. Again, I know Hollywood typically spends more, but bear with me. Speaking of making money, here is a fun fact before we move onto my final verdict…

If you want clarification for how well this film is doing, let me give you some background. I saw this film on Thursday, September 22nd. If I am not mistaken, I was literally at the last screening this movie ever did in Lowell, Massachusetts. The movie only came out on September 9th, less than a month ago. My specific metropolitan area, Boston, did not have any times listed for last week, nor do they have any times listed for this week. You might ask, is “Medieval” playing elsewhere? Like Los Angeles? Well, last week I found out it was playing in one location in Westminster, California. But after Googling the showtimes once again, there’s no screenings there whatsoever for this week. If you think you are going to get a chance to watch this film theatrically in the United States, if you actually are that desperate, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

I am sure that an entertaining, thrilling, emotionally investing, and life-changing story on Jan Zizka exists. Unfortunately, it was not in the screenplay for “Medieval.” Perhaps this could have grabbed my attention more as a documentary. Maybe a different crew could have handled this movie better. On the surface, it is intriguing to know that a military commander could have a history like the one presented here. I just wish it were written and directed better.

In the end, “Medieval” is one of the most boring, tiresome, sickeningly forgettable movies of 2022. I have seen a number of bad movies this year. Although if you look at a particular title like “Elvis,” I at least felt emotion while watching that movie. In addition to boredom, I felt frustrated while watching “Elvis.” While “Medieval” is an unspeakable chore to get through, kind of like some history classes, I wish I at least felt one emotion during the movie. I did not have any emotional attachment to the characters, even core ones. At the same time, I never had any specific feeling of happiness, sadness, or as I felt during “Elvis,” frustration. If you liked “Medieval,” I congratulate you for being able to sit through something like this. I could never watch this movie again even if you paid me a ridiculous amount of money. I am going to give “Medieval” a 2/10.

“Medieval” is now playing absolutely nowhere in the United States. If there are showtimes near you, you might as well be joking. However, it is available for preorder on streaming services like Prime Video and Vudu.

Thanks for reading this review! If you like this review, why not check out some of my other ones? Check out my latest review for “Clerks III,” which given the reputation of Kevin Smith as a creator, I am surprised to say is more watchable than “Medieval.” Also, if you want to read a review for something else of large scale, check out my review for “Nope,” directed by Jordan Peele. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Medieval?” What did you think about it? Or, for those of you who have seen movies from the Czech Republic, which ones do you recommend? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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