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medieval the movie reviews

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It takes a moment, but soon it becomes clear why the somber Czech period epic “Medieval” doesn’t work as a dour post-“Game of Thrones” costume drama. Instead, “Medieval” is a bleak and visually oversaturated allegory about the 15th century revolutionary Czech soldier turned military leader Jan Žižka ( Ben Foster ). There's blood and chainmail, yes, but it's also a self-serious allegory about duty and faith during miserable times. 

“Medieval” features the same kind of brutal violence, convoluted soap opera plotting, and sad sack fatalism that defines so much of “Game of Thrones.” But unlike HBO’s sensational and uneven adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s engrossing fantasy novels, “Medieval” presents the past as a bloody, un-romantic parable whose punishing style is explained by its story’s concluding moral. Somehow, Žižka, a stoic man of action, meets any challenge and also combats the same spiritual decline and systemic inequity that eventually led to his real-life reputation as a battlefield legend and a beloved man of the people. I say “somehow” because “Medieval” doesn’t make such a convincing case for Žižka as a saint-like iconoclast. 

“Medieval” begins with a lot of expository dialogue and a couple of bone-crunching, but otherwise flat action scenes. This crash course in Czech history is often compelling for its intricate details, but rarely for its characterizations, dialogue, or dramatic tension. It does, however, feature Michael Caine as Lord Boresh, a surly imperial adviser who, for a few scenes, grumbles magisterially and also helps set up the movie’s plot. 

Speaking of the plot: after an overly complicated series of double crosses and secret allegiances, the sour-faced Žižka finds himself caught in a feud between the well-liked, but powerless Bohemian King Wenceslas ( Karel Roden ) and his conniving brother Sigismund ( Matthew Goode ). Žižka and his men are charged with abducting Lady Katherine ( Sophie Lowe ), the independent-minded fiancé of Lord Rosenberg ( Til Schweiger ), one of Sigismund’s allies. Žižka and Katherine instantly hit it off, though it’s never really clear why based on their halting conversations about God, or Foster and Lowe’s general lack of chemistry. 

Unfortunately, “Medieval” does not improve after Žižka takes it upon himself to protect Katherine from Sigismund, who wants to unseat his brother, and is also willing to betray his pal Rosenberg in order to do it. There’s some impressive antagonistic chemistry between Foster and Roland Møller , the latter of whom plays Torak, Sigismund’s main heavy. 

There’s also some appropriately upsetting battle scenes, all of which are either over-exposed or hyper-stylized to the point of distraction, and sometimes filmed with surreal and way too physically proximate hand-held camerawork, all of which approximates a sort of you-are-there derangement. Various body parts are smashed to bits, soldiers are knocked off their horses, and metal grinds against metal. The stuntwork and period weapons in these scenes all look fine, and some of the special effects and image-compositing look costly enough. But the real MVPs of “Medieval” are the foley artists and sound designers who made every metallic scrape and fleshy squelch seem more exciting than whatever’s shown on-screen.

There’s a heavy-osity in even these propulsive beat-'em-up sword-fights that creeps in from earlier dialogue scenes, which tend to drag on and look like somebody accidentally picked all the wrong settings on their new high-definition television. Too bad that, in conversation, Foster’s Žižka doesn’t get to say much that makes him seem like a game-changing leader. He tells his men that if they choose to fight with him, it would be for a “good cause” and “that’s a good death.” They respond by singing about being “God’s soldiers,” which seems presumptuous, but ok.

In theory, Žižka and Katherine’s conversations are both novel and interesting since they inevitably concern God. Žižka, being a perpetually frustrated soldier, sometimes mumbles about “God’s will” and how “death brings life,” so it’s nice to see Katherine tentatively ask him to unpack his mantra-like catechisms. After all, “Medieval” concludes with a choral hymn whose lyrics translate to “Pray to God and have faith in Him,” and somebody’s got to pave the way for that lofty foregone conclusion. 

It’s also kind of a shame that Lady Katherine talks like she’s trying out for a bad religious play. She asks Žižka about his late wife, and he tells her that he never had to question that foundational relationship. “Those feelings may be the only things you know that's true,” Katherine responds. “If there's one thing that was given to us by God, maybe that's all we're given.” I’d agree if anything in “Medieval” had a similarly inspiring effect. Jarring action and sudsy twists, sure, but God, duty, and romantic love? Those finer feelings demand a lot more than trendy pessimism and formulaic brutality.

Now playing in theaters. 

Simon Abrams

Simon Abrams

Simon Abrams is a native New Yorker and freelance film critic whose work has been featured in  The New York Times ,  Vanity Fair ,  The Village Voice,  and elsewhere.

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Film Credits

Medieval movie poster

Medieval (2022)

Rated R for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity.

126 minutes

Ben Foster as Jan Žižka

Sophie Lowe as Kateřina

Til Schweiger as Rožmberk

Matthew Goode as král Zikmund

Roland Møller as Torak

Michael Caine as Lord Boreš

William Moseley as Jaroslav

Writer (story by)

  • Petr Jakl Sr.

Writer (story)

  • Kevin Bernhardt

Writer (based on)

  • Marek Dobes
  • Michal Petrus

Cinematographer

  • Jesper Tøffner
  • Steven Rosenblum
  • Dirk Westervelt
  • Philip Klein

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Medieval Reviews

medieval the movie reviews

The film works best as a passable small-scale battle epic, but beyond that, it’s rough sledding.

Full Review | Apr 7, 2023

medieval the movie reviews

Any movie that calls itself Medieval, with the story taking place in medieval Europe, fails to have any credibility when the lead character has an American accent. It's just one of many problems in this mindless and boring action film.

Full Review | Mar 25, 2023

medieval the movie reviews

This is a full-blooded take on the true story of a legendary Czech folk hero, and writer-director Petr Jakl infuses it with plenty of entertaining myth-making.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Nov 3, 2022

Big and imposing but visually grubby, narratively often indecipherable and ultra-violent....A dour, lumbering and often quite unpleasant take on Žižka’s transformation from stone-cold mercenary soldier to popular hero.

Full Review | Original Score: C- | Oct 27, 2022

If it can’t muster much historical insight, this Bohemian foray rhapsodises violence all too effectively: mace-smitings, nose-bitings, even a lion crunching someone’s head like a boiled sweet.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Oct 25, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Medieval is an epic mix of bloodthirsty swordplay and historical drama which features a number of familiar faces.

Full Review | Oct 24, 2022

This really is not a terribly competent film... It feels like they're auditioning for a video game.

Full Review | Sep 19, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Bloody historical biopic has gory battles, little depth.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Sep 17, 2022

It puts up quite a fight — in terms of some dazzling swordplay and bloody battle sequences — but this ambitious historical epic struggles to generate emotional depth beneath the violent surface.

Full Review | Sep 16, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Far from perfect, but a million miles away from disaster, Medieval doesn’t quite live up to the legendary status of its central figure, but who or what even can?

Full Review | Sep 14, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Absent any legible mythmaking, coherent context or memorable imagery, Medieval will make the history books for all the wrong reasons.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.1/10 | Sep 13, 2022

Director Petr Jákl oversees a sincere yet dysfunctionally-assembled medieval flop.

Full Review | Sep 12, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

when men are being drowned, eviscerated, hung, impaled, burnt and smashed Medieval is blunt force fun.

Full Review | Original Score: 68/100 | Sep 11, 2022

Lacking either The Northman's unified sense of vision or Gladiator's quality compositions, the dour Medieval can only crumple under its own weight.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Sep 10, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

With a flat story and flat emotions throughout the film, Medieval might fade into the background while we’re typing this review.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/10 | Sep 10, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Amid the beards, blood and grime is a solid blend of history and genre.

Full Review | Original Score: 82/100 | Sep 9, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

Struggles as a work of historical fiction, but when the action mounts, it’s immersive and exciting.

Full Review | Sep 9, 2022

Foster is a fine actor, but he seems miscast as the hero in this multinational, accent-deaf historical adventure.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Sep 9, 2022

medieval the movie reviews

A film with an identity crisis, caught between its lowbrow sword-and-splatter charms and grander ambitions... The clarity of message gets hopelessly bogged down in the internecine conflicts of all the players.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | Sep 9, 2022

This crash course in Czech history is often compelling for its intricate details, but rarely for its characterizations, dialogue, or dramatic tension.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4 | Sep 9, 2022

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‘Medieval’ Review: Flaying Alive

Living up to its title, this ultraviolent ode to a Czech national hero bludgeons you into submission.

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By Jeannette Catsoulis

A cohort of notable actors — including Michael Caine, Ben Foster and Matthew Goode — tromp through “Medieval,” Petr Jakl’s lumbering epic about the storied Czech warrior Jan Zizka . The movie’s real stars, though, are its gaping wounds and mangled limbs, the singing of scythe and ax more eloquent than any dialogue.

On land and underwater, the verisimilitude of the violence is numbing. Horses are elbowed over cliffs; a man’s brain is leisurely puréed by means of a saw through the ears. By the end, scarcely an orifice remains inviolate, the camera’s blood lust seemingly insatiable. Yet beneath the clanging of chain mail and the gurgles of the dying, a story peeks out: The throne of the Holy Roman Empire is up for grabs and coveted by two feuding brothers. To prevent the corrupt sibling (Goode, lazily scheming) and his wealthy wing man from prevailing, a powerful lord (Caine) arranges to have the wing man’s fiancée, Lady Katherine (a wan Sophie Lowe), kidnapped. As operatic choirs muster on the soundtrack, a morose mercenary named Zizka (Foster), gets the assignment; a small empire’s worth of knights and peasants gets kaput.

Glum and bludgeoning, “Medieval” serves up a melancholic hero — see how it pains Zizka to take all these lives! — and a limp love interest-cum-bargaining chip. Hauled from one battle to the next, Katherine can do little but gaze, mouth agape, at the carnage, rallying now and then to declaim on the era’s social inequities and to pack maggots into Zizka’s newly vacated eye socket.

“Are you all right?” Zizka tenderly inquires at one point, though, if you ask me, the movie’s addition of that hungry lion was maybe a barbarism too far.

Medieval Rated R. Fans of slicing, smashing, gouging and impaling will be in heaven. Running time: 2 hours 6 minutes. In theaters.

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Review: ‘Medieval’ story of Czech folk hero suffers from identity crisis

Ben Foster, center left, and Michael Caine, center right, in the movie "Medieval."

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Jan Zizka, a beloved 15th century Czech folk hero, looms large in the nation’s collective consciousness, a skilled, ingenious, one-eyed warrior who led peasants and rebels into battles that he never lost. In Prague, they’ve erected one of the largest bronze equestrian statues in the world in his honor, and now, “Medieval,” the most expensive Czech film ever made, depicts his early years, with the intense actor Ben Foster taking on the role of Zizka.

“Medieval” is written and directed by Czech filmmaker, actor and stuntman Petr Jákl, who also represented the country in judo in the 2000 Olympics. The story is in part by his father, Petr Jákl Sr., another Olympian judoka, and it’s clear that both have a tremendous reverence for the man, his mission and for his brutal, bloody reputation. If there’s anything to recommend about the crunchingly gory “Medieval,” it’s the daring, no-holds-barred stunt work, the battles and some spectacular underwater sequences.

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This is the third directorial effort for Jákl, whose second film, “Ghoul,” was the highest-grossing horror film in Czech history. He brings that touch of the macabre to this tale of medieval warfare, following the path paved by “Game of Thrones” and “The Last Duel,” which plunged audiences into hyperrealistic and uber-violent battle scenes. Foster, who tends to disappear into his roles, approaches the bloodshed, and Jan’s emotional journey, with his typical ferocity.

The legendary Michael Caine, playing a character named Lord Boresh, takes us into the Kingdom of Bohemia at the turn of the 15th century, where chaos reigns, and it requires several frames of onscreen text and a voice-over to get us up to speed. Essentially, the plague has plunged Europe, and the Catholic Church, into chaos, and there are two popes: one in Rome and one in France. Benevolent Bohemian King Wenceslas IV (Karel Roden) is trying to get to Rome to be crowned king of the empire, though his debts hold him back, while his scheming brother King Sigismund of Hungary (Matthew Goode) plots behind his back to steal the throne.

Boresh hires Jan as a mercenary to kidnap Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe), the fiancee of Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger), a Sigismund ally. Katherine also happens to be the niece of the king of France. It’s a bit of political gamesmanship, and the rest of the film unfolds as a series of ambushes and double-crosses, mercenaries and peasants fighting to gain control of Katherine, who falls in love with her captor, Jan, and his honor.

They are both deeply religious people, and through Jan, Katherine learns to harness her own agency. It’s clear that Jákl wants “Medievel” to be a kind of Czech “Braveheart,” but the political machinations are so muddled that there’s no clear goal. It takes a little too long for the script to get to “freedom,” presumably because of the whole lady-kidnapping business.

“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 Jákl 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 the 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 their word for it.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

Rated: R, for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity Running time: 2 hours, 6 minutes Playing: Starts Sept. 9 in general release

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‘Medieval’ Review: A Czech Folk Legend Turns Action Hero

Starring English-speakers Ben Foster and Michael Caine, Petr Jakl’s big-budget spectacle offers a satisfying blend of history lesson and brutal combat.

By Dennis Harvey

Dennis Harvey

Film Critic

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Medieval

Czech folk hero Jan Zizka’s story has been dramatized — and mythologized — in various forms many times, including a mid-1950s celluloid trilogy by Otakar Vavra that was arguably the local industry’s most ambitious production in those somewhat stodgy, pre-New Wave days. Purportedly the Czech Republic’s most expensive feature to date, Petr Jakl ’s new “ Medieval ” portrays the same legendary figure in what’s anything but an old-school costume epic. Instead, this robust, assured enterprise offers a distant past in the brutally combat-driven action mode of “Gladiator” and “Braveheart,” its patriotic sentiments steeped in mud and blood.

Popular on Variety

The majority of “Medieval” thus has Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe) bounced like a ping-pong ball between sides, forever captured and recaptured, though her own allegiances shift quickly once she realizes the brutal treachery her betrothed is capable of. Jan’s efforts are often helped by the local peasantry, whose rebelliousness has been stoked by years of excess taxation and other abuses. Meanwhile, a reunion with his own so-inclined brother Jaroslav (William Moseley) sours when their connection attracts a violent visit from Sigismund’s right-hand goon Torak (Roland Moller).

Striking a posture more muscular than plush, the impressively mounted film is still always visually attractive, with strong design contributions topped by DP Jesper Toffner’s widescreen lensing of beautiful landscapes and imposing historical sites — even if the use of eagle’s-eye drone shots sometimes borders on overkill. This is the kind of saga much less interested in court pageantry than gory mano-a-mano combat, each mace, axe and sword impact duly accompanied by stereo gut-smoosh or thwack. Such set-pieces seldom let up, and if they fall short of being memorable, it is to the credit of Jakl, his editors and other key contributors that “Medieval” never becomes one long, pummeling dirge of action excess.

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.

It’s a big leap for the director after two much-more-modestly scaled prior features, 2010 true-crime drama “Kajinek” and 2015 found-footage horror “Ghoul,” a home-turf hit that looked like just another tired “Blair Witch” knockoff elsewhere. (Its lead Jennifer Armour plays a prominent peasant rebel here.) He manages to cohere the multinational casting into an effective ensemble, even if Caine perhaps brings a bit too much star wattage to the table, and Foster not quite enough. Though only partway though his life’s journey, this Jan Zizka is already presented in terse, steely, iconic terms that might’ve been better served by an actor with more innate charisma — Foster’s significant acting chops are wasted on a heroic cipher, his competent performance somewhat overshadowed by supporting players.

Reviewed online, Aug. 30, 2022. MPA Rating: R. Running time: 125 MIN.

  • Production: (Czech Republic) A The Avenue Entertainment release of a Highland Film Group, The Avenue presentation, in association with JBJ Film, R.U. Robot Studios. Producers: Petr Jakl, Cassian Elwes. Executive producers: Martin J. Barab, Kevin Bernhardt, Arianne Fraser, Delphine Perrier, Henry Winterstern, Ara Keshishian, Petr Jakl Sr., Pam Dixon, Stuart Manashil.
  • Crew: Director: Petr Jakl. Screenplay: Jakl, based on a previous screenplay by Marek Dobes, Michal Petrus; story: Peter Bok, Petr Jakl Sr. Camera: Jesper Toffner. Editors: Steven Rosenblum, Dirk Westervelt. Music: Philip Klein.
  • With: Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Michael Caine, Til Schweiger, Matthew Goode, William Moseley, Roland Moller, Karel Roden, Werner Daehn, Vinzenz Kiefer, Alistair Brammer, Magnus Samuelsson, Christopher Rygh, Guy Roberts, David Bowles, Jennifer Armour. (English dialogue)

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Ben Foster (Jan Zizka) Sophie Lowe (Katherine) Michael Caine (Lord Boresh) Til Schweiger (Rosenberg) Matthew Goode (King Sigismund) William Moseley (Jaroslav) Roland Møller (Torak) Karel Roden (King Wenceslas) Werner Daehn (Ulrich) Vinzenz Kiefer (Conrad)

The story of fifteenth century Czech icon and warlord, Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.

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More about Medieval

In <i>Medieval</i>, Ben Foster turns the story of a real-life Czech military commander into a blunt instrument

In Medieval , Ben Foster turns the story of a real-life Czech military commander into a blunt instrument

Michael Caine and Matthew Goode also star in filmmaker Petr Jákl's bid for international success

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Medieval (2022)

  • User Reviews
  • Loved the action sequences, and the violence
  • Loved the battlefield tactics.
  • Excellent cast (besides Til Schweiger)
  • Perfect ending

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medieval the movie reviews

  • DVD & Streaming
  • Action/Adventure , Biography/History , Drama , Romance , War

Content Caution

A one-eyed man stares ominously.

In Theaters

  • September 9, 2022
  • Ben Foster as Jan Žižka; Sophie Lowe as Katherine; Michael Caine as Lord Boresh; Til Schweiger as Rosenberg; Roland Møller as Torak; Matthew Goode as King Sigismund; Karel Roden as Wenceslas IV

Home Release Date

  • October 25, 2022

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  • The Avenue Entertainment

Movie Review

In his latter years, Jan Žižka will become a Bohemian military commander of legend. But that journey to glory necessarily starts more modestly years before. When we meet him here, Jan is the leader of a rough-around-the-edges group of mercenaries.

Jan and his men know how to kill. And they get a pretty penny for doing so. Their current mission is simple: protect the deep-pursed Lord Boresh, an elderly statesman who’s ever in someone’s crosshairs.

You see, with the death of the last Roman Emperor, the 15 th -century political stage is a mess. Assassinations and backstabbing intrigue are everyday occurrences as people grasp at power. And on top of that, there’s also a battle for control of the Catholic Church.

Lord Boresh, however, has a plan. A lovely young woman, Lady Katherine, must be kidnapped. She is the fiancée of a wealthy Lord named Rosenberg and the niece of the King of France. And if she becomes a pawn held securely, other major chess pieces can be forced to move.

Now, kidnapping women in this era generally wasn’t a well-received political strategy. But when Jan Žižka nevertheless gets tapped for the dirty job, he grudgingly agrees. After all, there are important things happening well above his station. And when God’s will is at stake—which Boresh definitively makes clear is the case—then unpleasant choices must be made.

Of course, kidnapping a Lady of Katherine’s importance can also spark unexpected bloody reprisals, such as the capture of Jan’s brother and the gruesome murder of his nephew. And so Jan soon finds himself caught between two monarchs, surrounded by bloodthirsty forces, and facing off with his own brutal mentor, Torak. War and battle are horribly grisly and bloody. And Jan Žižka is afraid that God’s will may be every bit as bad.

Positive Elements

Even in the muck of constant bloodletting, we get the sense that Jan wants to do the honorable thing. He kills and hacks at foes, to be sure. But he also faces danger to protect Katherine and local villagers who are oppressed by lords and royals at every turn.  Jan also takes time to often sprinkle seeds near a victim or at a gravesite while repeating the phrase: “Death brings life.”

As Katherine witnesses some of these horrific misdeeds—many perpetrated by her own Lord Rosenberg—she balks at the life and the station she used to occupy. Feeling led by God, Katherine does whatever she can to help the wounded villagers. She risks her life to protect them, and she reaches out to save Jan’s life on several occasions. In the end she’s willing to sacrifice herself for another individual.

Local villagers gather with their tools as weapons to support what they see as Jan’s battle for “justice” as he begins to fight against the royal’s forces.

Spiritual Elements

Characters discuss the concept of God’s will from several different points of view. Most often, that concept gets used as a prop or a justification for the atrocities men perform. On the other hand, some question whether God desires those terrible things. Several people say that even the church “twists the words of the Bible.” And Jan notes that though kings are “chosen by God, they still make the mistakes of men.”

One rather evil and deceptive lord prays regularly that God would bless his rise to power. Jan is a praying man, too. Though he generally prays that God would forgive the death-dealing and bloody hacking he’s about to do.

Katherine, however, is a much more earnest believer in God’s good hand in life. She goes to a church service and sings with the congregates—singing a song about praying to God and having faith in him (this song is lifted several times in the film by local villagers). And at two key moments, Katherine appears to be prompted by the hand of God to make specific self-sacrificial choices.

Katherine also talks with Jan about someone he once loved and who was killed mercilessly. She wonders if love is the “one true thing given to us by God.” In a flashback, Jan’s father expresses a different belief, saying, “God’s blessings are not in what He gives, they’re in what He takes.”

A scene in a church includes a painting showing Jesus on the cross.

Sexual Content

Lord Rosenberg goes to be with a prostitute while Katherine goes to church. The naked woman sits in bed (who is seen topless) and laments that Rosenberg will soon marry and not see her anymore. But Rosenberg assures her he’ll keep visiting. “The things you do for me, my little princess wouldn’t dream of,” he chortles.

Jan and Katherine kiss.

Violent Content

This is very much a film about the atrocities of men. In fact, those bloody elements brutally override everything else here.

To that end, men are constantly being pounded to mush by maces and stabbed and hacked repeatedly with knives and swords in the midst of battle. A man’s head is savagely sawn off and impaled on a spike. A young boy is impaled on a large post and left to suffer and slowly bleed out. He only dies when a loved one mercifully kills him with a knife to the heart. Scores of men and horses are hit with arrows and falling stones. One guy, for instance, has a crossbow arrow purposely shot into his mouth.

People are hung by the neck and left strung up and impaled for birds to pick at their eyes and soft tissue. Someone is dragged like a bloody sack behind a horse. A man is stoned and then has his skull crushed. Buildings are burned. We see charred bodies of the dead. The camera also gazes at bones being crushed and snapped by large rocks. And swords severing joints and limbs.

One particularly gruesome wound involves a man being slashed across the face by a blade and losing an eye. The gory socket is then “treated” by filling it with maggots to eat out the dead flesh.

Oh, and women don’t escape the torment either. Women are thumped in the head with clubs and have their throats slashed. One woman falls from a great height into a lake. But after being rescued, she still dies from the fall (bleeding from her ears and nose).

A lion attacks and mauls several men. The camera watches as the beast claws at a guy and then chews savagely on his head. Innocents are tortured and manhandled for information. We hear of someone who died from plague. We see flashes of a young girl being dragged around by men. Someone’s nose is bitten off. A man is betrayed and beaten by his own men. Another character escapes soldiers by lying under dead bodies in a corpse cart.

Crude or Profane Language

A single s-word and a use of “d–n.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men drink what appears to be wine or mead from glasses and a wineskin.

Other Negative Elements

Though it’s really just a garnish to the bloodiness here, lies and deception abound between the story’s men of power.

Director Petr Jákl is trying to translate and transport his Czech filmmaking skills to a larger international stage with Medieval —the most expensive Czech film in history. But quite frankly—when the cinematic ingredients of this flick are laid out side-by-side—those isolated parts promise far more than the film as a whole ever delivers.

That ingredient list includes the story of a famous Czech warrior hero who, in real life, did some remarkable things. There are recognizable stars and battlefield adventures in the mix. You’ve got twisting and backstabbing political intrigue. And there’s even the promise of two comely leads falling into an unlikely love story.

For all of that, however, and all the blue-gray filtering and well-designed cinematography that a modern film crew can whip up, the resulting flick is just kinda meandering and disjointed. Oh, and it’s very, very, very bone-breaking and flesh-flayingly brutal—horror movie kind of stuff.

Now, I’m not suggesting that war in the 15th century was a pretty thing. For that matter, it probably wasn’t much more than a gory and painful slog. But gory, tiresome, slogs don’t mix well with popcorn and date nights for most.

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After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

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Bloody historical biopic has gory battles, little depth.

Medieval Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Promotes courage, integrity, perseverance, even un

Jan is a loyal, faithful fighter with his own mora

Nearly all characters are White, European men, oth

Many scenes of bloody, gory violence. Also war, to

Lord Rosenberg is seen in bed with his topless (an

Rare use of "s--t" and "damn." Insult language lik

Adults drink what's presumably liquor from goblets

Parents need to know that Medieval is an ultraviolent historical action-drama about legendary Czech war hero/strategist Jan Žižka. It's bloody and gory in its many graphic scenes of warfare and torture, including depictions of and references to sexual violence and rape. There are beheadings, eviscerations,…

Positive Messages

Promotes courage, integrity, perseverance, even under the direst of circumstances. Messages include importance of knowing when to question authority and unjust laws/orders, overcoming prejudice against someone because of their background, and never giving up even if the odds are against you.

Positive Role Models

Jan is a loyal, faithful fighter with his own moral code about whom to fight. He's brave and intelligent and innovative in his strategies. Katerina is naive but also open-minded, kindhearted, courageous. Many characters are mercenaries but are loyal to one another, although others are in it for the money and consider their war-making a job, not a mission from God.

Diverse Representations

Nearly all characters are White, European men, other than some Asian-presenting mercenary soldiers. Very few women, except for a hostage, a sex worker, and a mother. Everyone is Christian, although with different allegiances.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Many scenes of bloody, gory violence. Also war, torture, and sexual violence. Impalements, beheadings, eviscerations, and many throats and guts being slit open. People burn to death both from towns being set on fire and targeted fires. A woman is raped, her breasts visible when the soldier rips her top open. Another woman discusses how often she was raped. Jan's eye is stabbed; his companion thinks to clean the wound with maggots. A character is impaled, left to die. A woman stabs a man to save someone. Lots of blood -- on hands, bodies, faces. Many scenes of violence are preceded by prayers, since there's a religious motivation for the war.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Lord Rosenberg is seen in bed with his topless (and presumably naked) mistress. When she says she'll miss him once he's married, he strokes her thigh and makes it clear he'll continue to visit her even after he's married; she does things for him that his future wife wouldn't. Nudity is also part of a scene of sexual violence (see Violence).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Rare use of "s--t" and "damn." Insult language like "moron," "insane," "thief."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink what's presumably liquor from goblets and flasks.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Medieval is an ultraviolent historical action-drama about legendary Czech war hero/strategist Jan Žižka. It's bloody and gory in its many graphic scenes of warfare and torture, including depictions of and references to sexual violence and rape. There are beheadings, eviscerations, amputations, and eye gouging, as well as impalements, threats to and the murder of a child, and battle sequences that show dozens of dead or severely injured bodies. Adult soldiers drink socially (from flasks, wineskins, goblets), and there's a bit of language (one "s--t," a couple uses of "damn," and some insult language). One scene shows a man in bed with his partially nude mistress after implied sex. While viewers might learn a bit about the story's historical context, the movie highlights action/war violence over Žižka's biography. Although the film (reportedly the most expensive Czech movie ever made) was directed and co-written by Czech filmmaker Petr Jákl, it's an international production, starring Ben Foster as Žižka, as well as Matthew Goode , Michael Caine , Sophie Lowe , and Til Schweiger . To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Based on 1 parent review

Little bi boring

What's the story.

MEDIEVAL starts with some on-screen text that briefly explains the 14th century state of the Holy Roman Empire. The death of Emperor Charles IV left Christians divided into factions supporting either King Wenceslas of Bohemia or the king of France as the next Holy Roman Emperor. Wenceslas' (fictional) adviser Lord Borš ( Michael Caine ) hires Jan Žižka ( Ben Foster ) and his army to kidnap the traitorous Lord Rosenberg's ( Til Schweiger ) fiancée, Katerina ( Sophie Lowe ), who happens to be the king of France's sister. Wenceslas' brother, King Sigismund ( Matthew Goode ), unexpectedly aligns with Rosenberg, believing his older brother incapable of wearing the emperor's crown. Žižka takes the young and naive Katerina hostage, only to find that his former mentor is now working with Sigismund to brutally force Žižka to give her back. As alliances shift, Žižka finds himself drawn to the courageous, kindhearted princess who's stuck in the middle of a powerful and cruel tug-of-war.

Is It Any Good?

This action-drama underwhelms as a historical drama and biographical film, but the over-the-top battle sequences make this a serviceable -- if grisly -- period action adventure. If all you want is something with Gladiator -meets- Braveheart -style movie violence, Medieval delivers an impressively bloated body count. But what director Petr Jákl, working from a story by his father that he co-wrote, doesn't do is provide an adequate or in-depth profile of the Czech legend the movie is about: Middle Ages war genius/strategist Jan Žižka. Foster is a gifted Method actor, but despite his simmering intensity, he seems miscast and borderline uncomfortable in this role (and not just because he's not Czech). The script doesn't give him the gravitas that other aloof historical figures have received in movies like Braveheart or Spartacus . Žižka was a brilliant tactician who was reportedly undefeated in battle, despite losing his eye(s). Unfortunately, Jákl doesn't provide enough historical context or exposition along with the movie's epically bloody fight scenes.

And even if you don't care about the history or Žižka's personal story, the movie is still disappointing in its pacing and plot, alternating the dizzying gore-fest of its war and torture scenes (so much viscera, so many detached limbs!) with slow-moving dialogue that still somehow doesn't explain exactly who's on what side -- or why those sides should matter. At least the well-known actors are always a pleasure to see: Caine still impresses, and Goode is quite adept at playing a villain who feels called by God to usurp his brother. Schweiger is well cast as an aristocrat with a punchable face, and Danish actor Roland Møller stands out as the ruthless mercenary Torak. Medieval doesn't live up to the full potential of Žižka's story, but kudos to Jákl for taking on such an ambitious project.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the challenges of making biographical/historical films set in the Medieval era. What makes Žižka a compelling subject?

What did you learn about the movie's historical circumstances? Did the movie make you curious about the rest of Žižka's life?

Do you consider Jan a role model? What character strengths does he display? Who else is a possible role model in the story?

What seems realistic, and what makes you wonder whether it really happened? How can you find out more? Discuss the various resources you can use to research historical people and events.

Discuss the amount of violence in the movie. Why is or isn't it necessary to the story? Does violence in the context of war impact viewers differently than violence against civilians?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : September 9, 2022
  • On DVD or streaming : June 12, 2022
  • Cast : Ben Foster , Sophie Lowe , Michael Caine , Matthew Goode
  • Director : Petr Jákl
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : The Avenue
  • Genre : Action/Adventure
  • Topics : History
  • Run time : 126 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity
  • Last updated : March 17, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Medieval review: period action movie is too self-serious for its own good.

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"bring it back to the streets": fast & furious 12 may return franchise to its la roots, kenneth branagh's new movie is the perfect follow-up to his $600 million poirot trilogy.

Watching Medieval , the new period battle-epic from director Petr Jákl, it's hard not to be struck by how neatly it slots into its commercial niche. There is an audience for historical action-adventure movies that see hardened warriors go at it with old-fashioned weaponry, an audience that tolerates a certain level of gory effects, tactical jargon, and broody pensiveness from a male lead. This genre has a sliding scale of prestige, depending on the budget level and stars involved, with many on the upper-end aspiring to the Oscars glory of movies like Braveheart and Gladiator . Medieval sits somewhere in the middle and has no such aspirations, but the latter Ridley Scott film still feels like a clear touchstone, encouraging a comparison that does not prove flattering. Already working with a shakily thin script, Jákl weighs his movie down with an overly self-serious aesthetic, to the point that even the target audience might find the two-hour runtime a tough sit.

Based on the story of real-life Czech national hero and military legend Jan Žižka, played here by Ben Foster, Medieval opens with Europe on the precipice of chaos following the death of the Holy Roman Emperor. Only the Pope can crown a new one, and while the French play for power by electing their own Pope, Žižka and his employer, Lord Boresh (Michael Caine), are working to secure their benevolent King Wenceslaus of Bohemia (Karel Roden) safe passage to Rome for this purpose. However, they face fierce opposition from Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger), a wealthy noble with his eye on the Bohemian crown, and Hungary's King Sigismund (Matthew Goode), Wenceslaus' scheming half-brother whose target is the entire Empire. Rosenberg is withholding the funds required for the King's journey, and Boresh has Žižka's team kidnap his fiancée, Lady Catherine (Sophie Lowe) — who also happens to be the niece of the King of France — in the hopes of motivating him. But things soon go awry when Sigismund and his men get involved, and Žižka begins to develop feelings for his naive but goodhearted captive.

Related: Three Thousand Years Of Longing Review: Miller's Drama Is Beautifully Told

With its various moving pieces and Catherine as the political pawn everyone wants but no one can afford to endanger, Medieval had the chance to pair its action set-pieces with some quality intrigue. Unfortunately, it relies too heavily on exposition to establish motivations and alliances, content to tell viewers each character's goal and let that define them, instead of showing viewers who they are and developing their motivations from there. This pretty much leaves it up to the actors to project depth into their roles, and even with the talent on board, their success seems directly related to the amount of screen time they receive. Goode, for example, excels at being opaquely sinister, but as the Sigismund scenes pile up, it becomes clear the film has no intention of peeling back what layers there appear to be in his performance. The two leads, Žižka and Catherine, get a bit more attention from the script, in that they are actually afforded some backstory. But their core characteristics are established with the same repetition, and while they are granted actual arcs, their growth is painfully slow. Neither is strong enough to serve as Medieval's emotional anchor, nor does their romantic potential ever provide the necessary spark.

On top of these script issues, Jákl crafts his film with grating self-importance. From an opening voiceover that starts by listing action-movie buzzwords to the oppressively bleak visual style throughout, Medieval seems to constantly tell its viewer how seriously they should take it, despite lacking the goods to justify such attention. That kind of stylization can work when employed to serve a larger artistic purpose, demonstrated well this year by Robert Eggers' The Northman , but this movie has no such intent. If the lodestar really is Gladiator, then Jákl has forgotten that movie's use of beauty to balance its horrors — the most enduring image, after all, is a hand drifting over a field of wheat. Lacking either The Northman 's unified sense of vision or Gladiator 's quality compositions, the dour Medieval can only crumple under its own weight.

This movie's only real interest is its violence, and while some battle scenes provide bright spots, this aspect, too, fails to deliver on its full potential. Medieval makes use of a wide array of weapons to dispatch its characters, and there is some very strong effects work that this movie's audience will surely appreciate. Additionally, there's a whole sequence partway through that puts Žižka's most famous military tactic to good use, and the movie is never more engaging than when each stage of his plan is gradually unveiled. However, some choppy editing makes it difficult to really take in the fight choreography and the battles suffer from a lack of stakes. It's not because they hold back on the death and maiming, but because the general lack of investment in characters leaves the viewer indifferent to whether they end up dead or maimed. Unlike movies that are a push-and-pull of positive and negative traits, Medieval's issues compound, undercutting what assets it does have and leaving little reason to recommend it.

Medieval released exclusively in theaters on Friday, September 9. The film is 126 minutes long and is rated R for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity.

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  • Action/Adventure
  • Children's/Family
  • Documentary/Reality
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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Medieval’ on Hulu, an Uberviolent Historical Battle Epic Starring a Grim Ben Foster

Where to stream:, stream it or skip it: ‘finestkind’ on paramount+, a languidly-paced film about fishing, brothers, fathers and sons, will smith recalls ‘emancipation’ co-stars ignoring him and spitting on him, stream it or skip it: ‘emancipation’ on apple tv+, starring will smith as an enslaved man running, running, running from his captors, is ‘emancipation’ based on a true story the real-life photo behind the will smith movie.

Medieval ( now on Hulu ) is a historical-fiction action-drama starring Ben Foster as Czech military war hero Jan Zizka, a general who never lost a battle, except maybe the couple of skirmishes that are depicted in this here movie. Then again, those might merely be “fights” and not “battles,” so maybe they’ve got us on a technicality? (Remember, I nitpick because I care.) So this is technically a BOATS ( Based On A True Story ) movie, notable for being the most expensive Czech movie ever made, with a budget of $20 million, and also notable for being a loose interpretation of Zizka’s biography, since not much is known about his early life, during which he might’ve lost a skirmish or two. It’s what you call “creative license,” something that hopefully renders this movie a good movie instead of a not-good movie.

MEDIEVAL : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: The first image we see is of a horse in full gallop, except in slo-mo, accompanied by voiceover: “Violence,” goes the voiceover voice, then a long pause. Then, “Tyranny. Intrigue. Power.” These are the fundamentals of the political crapshow that is Europe circa 1400, although one could argue that those are the fundamentals of all political crapshows that have ever happened anywhere. This one may be unique because there are two popes. I’ll say that again: TWO POPES. As if one wasn’t more than enough already! A couple of men are fighting over their interpretation of “God’s will,” which translates to “which of them will be king.” And when there’s an argument over who will rule the Roman Empire and Bohemia and whatever other pieces of land are up for grabs, that means life on the ground where average folks dwell is a place where chaos reigns. Corpses hang from trees, blood soaks the land, the ashes of homes smolder. The only happy people are the crows, because they have so many fresh eyeballs to peck from skulls. 

Among these groundfolk is Jan Zizka (Foster), who leads a band of mercenaries in the fight against the bad guys. In this world, in order to go toe-to-toe with the bad guys, even the good guys have to be sociopaths who are fine one moment and murderous killing killers the next – but at least the good guys feel bad about what they have to do to defeat the bad guys, evidenced by a scene in which Zizka kneels down and mutters, possibly to his god or whatever, “Forgive us for what we are about to do.” And what they do is grab large swords and daggers and spiky things dangling from chains on sticks, and pummel the blood and pus out of other men. Zizka’s weapon of choice is an iron mace, which, according to the images we see in this film, does not feel good when he hits you on the head with it. One wonders if he’d rather not hit people on the head with an iron mace, or if he actually likes doing it; one gets the sense that this hypertoxically masculine age makes inner moral conflicts extra hard to wrangle.

Anyway, there’s some plot here, and it involves Lord Boresh (Michael Caine) tasking Zizka with kidnapping Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe), the fiancee of powerful lord Henry III of Rosenberg (Til Schweiger), so she may be used as a bargaining chip for King Wenceslas IV (Karl Roden) to usurp Rosenberg’s power and therefore become Roman Emperor, much to the chagrin of Sigismund (Matthew Goode), who wants even more kingly power than he already has. That means the plot tosses Katherine around hither and yon like a political hot potato while Zizka does two things: One, outsmarts larger groups of violent men with violent ambushes that allow him to engage in acts of violence against those men. And two, looks at Katherine and wonders if he likes her likes her, especially after he loses a fight and she nurses him back to health by hiding him in a cave and plucking some maggots from a dead rat and washing them in a stream and putting them on the oozing wound that used to be his eyeball. If that isn’t a situation that inspires hearts and rainbows, I don’t know what is.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Medieval is inspired by many quasi-historical battle epics before it, thus rendering it a Czech Braveheart and/or The Northman : The Boring Version . 

Performance Worth Watching: Foster is an underrated actor – his work in Leave No Trace , Hell or High Water and The Messenger shows the breadth of his range. No doubt, Medieval benefits from his presence, but it ultimately doesn’t allow him to deepen Zizka, to fully open up this hold-it-all-in stoic of a character and ponder his moral compromises.

Memorable Dialogue: Katherine reviews her own movie when she says, “Have you seen this all so many times, you no longer feel anything?”

Sex and Skin: Female nudity; a brief scene of sexual violence.

Our Take: Sadly, the seed of a Two Popes conflict finds no purchase here, so our hopes of a deadly-brutal third-act Pope-off went unrealized. We’re therefore left with the Zizka character arc, which seems to imply that the tepid affection of a pure and noble woman like Katherine helped forge the man who’d eventually become a national hero. Whether there’s truth or fact to this story isn’t the point – you know, creative license and all that – but Medieval ’s dramatic assertions are so blah, our investment in them is minimal. Who is this Zizka, exactly? What are his convictions beyond being a wily Robin Hood type who sides with the oppressed? There’s lots of inferences in the script about “God’s will,” but what exactly does he think about spirituality and organized religion, and their roles in 15th-century politics? 

These are relevant questions about a man who would eventually lead armies on victorious crusades, but this flimsy screenplay employs convoluted plotting that positions Zizka as the guy who takes us from historical point A to historical point B without much in the way of greater implications about his character. As a Zizka origin story of sorts, the film is frustratingly thin, and handcuffs Foster – typically a more lively presence – to its grim, suffocating tone. Typically, overcomplicated plots like this sort themselves out after a while, and this one never really does, situating us alongside Zizka as he fights whoever is against him and his ideals, whatever they are, for whatever reasons. 

Such unrealized thematic rigamarole urges one to believe that Medieval exists less as a thoughtful cinematic experience, more as an action film reveling in its own violent excess, Mel Gibson-style. Director Petr Jakl zooms in on the stabbings and slashings and disembowelings, the scenes of men biting off noses and lions biting off more than that (yes, lions, because why the hell not?). The brutality is rendered with realism and a sense of operatic grandeur that works on a base level, generating a thrill or three and balancing out the talky bits and the unconvincing love story. Sometimes, Jakl finds a stone groove during action sequences, and sometimes there’s too much dim lighting and slice-and-dice in the editing bay for them to be comprehensible. Such are Medieval ’s modest ambitions; the film works best as a passable small-scale battle epic, but beyond that, it’s rough sledding.  

Our Call: Medieval is acceptably interesting, I guess. But is mediocrity enough to warrant a recommendation? Nah. SKIP IT. 

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Medieval Reviews

  • 46   Metascore
  • 2 hr 6 mins
  • Drama, Science Fiction
  • Watchlist Where to Watch

The story of 14th century Czech icon and warlord Jan Zizka who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.

Reviewed By: Rovi

15th Century Bohemia must have been a brutal time to live; right after dealing with one of the worst plagues in human history, the people were caught right in the middle of a power struggle between two self-proclaimed kings. Screenwriter and director, Petr Jákl, knew there was a story to tell here, and he used the perfect vehicle to tell it - Jan Žižka. Medieval is an entertaining romp through a dark, brutal world, but one that wears thin in spots. The film is shot well, and most of the scenery is eye-popping, but a lack of tension and mediocre acting hold this movie back. Jan Žižka (Ben Foster) is one of the most respected European generals of all time. He was known for his innovative battle techniques, like devising a vehicle that is very similar to a modern tank, and his leadership of many untrained peasants won him many victories. When his ally, Lord Boresh (Michael Caine), talks him into kidnapping a highly prominent princess, Katherine (Sophie Lowe), his world starts to unravel. Jan must now face the wrath of the King's army, mercenaries, and the woman he just captured.Medieval starts slow, as it takes a while to understand the setting and the conflict. Yes, it is a simple plot once the film moves along, but the fractured storytelling makes for an uninteresting buildup. Once viewers get past some meaningless battle sequences and over-the-top gore, the story starts to pick up.The acting by Caine, Foster, and Lowe is great; the trio show chemistry while on screen with each other. The rest of the supporting cast does little to enhance the cinematic experience; there just seem to be many actors who do not fit the roles. This can also be said about the countless battle scenes in Medieval. Most of these scenes are without any sort of tension, and just seem off in some way. When a random foot breaks or an arm gets chopped off, it feels like it may have unnecessarily been added to the film, interrupting the flow and choreography of the skirmish.From a top-down level, Medieval is a decent stroll through the Dark Ages, with Jan Žižka acting as the personal tour guide. The story is compelling enough to stick to the end, but the lack of tension makes it tough to stay memorable. As a tribute to the legendary general, Medieval is worth watching, especially for those interested in world history.

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Medieval Parent Guide

Unite europe, end the war..

Theaters: In 15th century Europe, the Holy Roman Empire is in chaos after the death of the Emperor with no clear heir. Jan Zizka, a Czech mercenary finds himself caught in the middle of the feuding factions as he tries to protect his people and the princess he was hired to kidnap.

Release date September 9, 2022

Run Time: 126 minutes

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The guide to our grades, parent movie review by savannah sillito.

Wenceslaus IV, King of Bohemia (Karel Roden) is broke, overstretched, and in serious trouble. If he wants to be seen as the legitimate ruler, he needs to go to Rome to be crowned by the Pope – or, at least, the Pope he supports, since the King of France has recently established another papacy in Avignon. Ranged against Wenceslaus are Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger), the richest baron in Bohemia, who refuses to lend him the money he needs to make the journey; and his own brother, King Sigsmund of Hungary (Matthew Goode), who has unwelcome ideas about who should be sitting on the throne of Bohemia.

All Wenceslaus has going for him is the good advice of Lord Bores (Michael Caine), who tries to steer the unwitting king through the turbulent waters of his kingdom’s politics – but Lord Bores isn’t about to put all his eggs in one basket. He hires Jan Zizka (Ben Foster), a brilliant and innovative warrior, to kidnap Lord Rosenberg’s fiancée, Katherine (Sophie Lowe) as leverage against her future husband. The political situation in Bohemia is as unstable as a two-legged stool, and the balance of power fluctuates wildly… and the only reliable bargaining chip seems to be Katherine herself. Now all Jan needs to do is return Katherine to Wenceslaus IV before his grip on the country crumbles completely.

I may have tipped you off to the fact that there’s a bit of gore in the film. (Okay, you caught me. There’s a truckload of gore.) Think about it: if you take a flanged mace to the head at speed, your head stands a good chance of looking like a mulched pumpkin about a week after Halloween, with your face sailing gaily off like a bloody napkin. Obviously, scenes like that don’t make for comfortable family entertainment. Then there are two completely pointless scenes of female nudity, one of which occurs in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rape scene, which could have been cut from the film entirely with no effect on the storyline.

I’m more than a little disappointed since I really wanted to like this movie. European depictions of the medieval period are always an interesting contrast to whatever Hollywood pumps out, but Medieval can’t manage to deliver a riveting story. I’d say this might be a good film for Czech history buffs, but between the gore and what I believe are some very creative liberties taken with the historical record, it might just be a movie to avoid.

About author

Savannah sillito, medieval rating & content info.

Why is Medieval rated R? Medieval is rated R by the MPAA for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity.

Violence: People are frequently bloodily murdered, including stabbings, shootings, bludgeonings, beheadings, and general dismemberments. A teenager is impaled on a spike and left to die slowly. Burning corpses are seen. A boy is nearly hanged. A man bites another man’s nose off in combat. An individual has their eye destroyed in a fight and is later seen deliberately putting maggots in that eye to eat the damaged tissue. A character commits suicide by jumping from a great height. Sexual Content: A woman is briefly seen nude in an adulterous situation. One scene briefly depicts a violent rape with female toplessness. Profanity: There are infrequent uses of mild cursing. Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are infrequently seen drinking alcohol.

Page last updated January 12, 2024

Medieval Parents' Guide

For historical background for this film, you can try the following links:

Wikipedia: Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia

Wikipedia: Bohemia

Britannica: Czechoslovak History: The late Middle Ages (1306-1526)

ThoughtCo: The Avignon Papacy – When the Popes Resided in France

Related home video titles:

Another purportedly true medieval story made it to screen in The Last Duel . More fanciful (and more engaging) approaches to the period can be found in The Green Knight , The Northman , The Tragedy of Macbeth , The Seventh Seal , and of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail .

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COMMENTS

  1. Medieval movie review & film summary (2022)

    Instead, "Medieval" is a bleak and visually oversaturated allegory about the 15th century revolutionary Czech soldier turned military leader Jan Žižka ( Ben Foster ). There's blood and chainmail, yes, but it's also a self-serious allegory about duty and faith during miserable times. "Medieval" features the same kind of brutal violence ...

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    Apr 7, 2023 Full Review Carla Hay Culture Mix Any movie that calls itself Medieval, with the story taking place in medieval Europe, fails to have any credibility when the lead character has an ...

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    With a flat story and flat emotions throughout the film, Medieval might fade into the background while we're typing this review. Full Review | Original Score: 4/10 | Sep 10, 2022. Keith ...

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    Zizka tenderly inquires at one point, though, if you ask me, the movie's addition of that hungry lion was maybe a barbarism too far. Medieval. Rated R. Fans of slicing, smashing, gouging and ...

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    Medieval review - a Bohemian rhapsody of merry bruisers and brutal bloodshed. The costliest Czech film of all time features epic battles, royal conspiracies, hungry lions -and Michael Caine in ...

  6. Medieval (2022)

    Medieval: Directed by Petr Jákl. With Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Michael Caine, Til Schweiger. The story of fifteenth century Czech icon and warlord, Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.

  7. 'Medieval' review: The muddled story of a 15th-century hero

    Review: 'Medieval' story of Czech folk hero suffers from identity crisis. Ben Foster, center left, and Michael Caine, center right, in the movie "Medieval.". Jan Zizka, a beloved 15th ...

  8. Medieval

    Sep 9, 2022. Medieval is a bleak and visually oversaturated allegory about the 15th century revolutionary Czech soldier turned military leader Jan Žižka (Ben Foster). There's blood and chainmail, yes, but it's also a self-serious allegory about duty and faith during miserable times. Read More.

  9. 'Medieval' Review: A Czech Folk Legend Turns Action Hero

    Starring English-speakers Ben Foster and Michael Caine, Petr Jakl's big-budget spectacle "Medieval" offers a satisfying blend of history lesson and brutal combat.

  10. A Review Of Ben Foster's Medieval

    Consequently, the film's central conflicts feel particularly weightless, and quite frankly, boring. Medieval Trailer #1 (2022) If there is one place where Medieval delivers the goods, it's in ...

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    Film Reviews. In Medieval, Ben Foster turns the story of a real-life Czech military commander into a blunt instrument. Michael Caine and Matthew Goode also star in filmmaker Petr Jákl's bid for ...

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    Medieval isn't 'Gladiator' and doesn't try to be. It's a stand alone Biographical Account of one of history's greatest military minds. The movie does well with slightly over 2 hours but could easily have been made into a miniseries or multi-part movie (only a small pivotal point of his life is conveyed in the movie).

  13. Medieval

    Medieval tells the tale of 15th-century Czech hero Jan Žižka. And a brutal, bloody and bleak tale it is as politics and violence mingle. ... Movie Review. In his latter years, Jan Žižka will become a Bohemian military commander of legend. But that journey to glory necessarily starts more modestly years before. When we meet him here, Jan is ...

  14. Medieval (film)

    Medieval (Jan Žižka or Warrior of God) is a 2022 English-language Czech historical drama film directed by Petr Jákl. ... based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The film has a score of 58% based on 12 reviews on Czech website Kinobox.cz. Box office The film opened in the Czech Republic with 114,244 spectators during ...

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    Our review: Parents say: ( 1 ): Kids say: Not yet rated Rate movie. This action-drama underwhelms as a historical drama and biographical film, but the over-the-top battle sequences make this a serviceable -- if grisly -- period action adventure. If all you want is something with Gladiator -meets- Braveheart -style movie violence, Medieval ...

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    Unlike movies that are a push-and-pull of positive and negative traits, Medieval's issues compound, undercutting what assets it does have and leaving little reason to recommend it. Medieval released exclusively in theaters on Friday, September 9. The film is 126 minutes long and is rated R for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and ...

  17. 'Medieval' Hulu Review: Stream It Or Skip It?

    Medieval ( now on Hulu) is a historical-fiction action-drama starring Ben Foster as Czech military war hero Jan Zizka, a general who never lost a battle, except maybe the couple of skirmishes that ...

  18. 'Medieval' movie review: Ben Foster a stoic Jan Žižka in brutal Czech

    Promotional material touts Medieval as a "Czech Braveheart ", but where William Wallace fought for freedom, Jan Žižka fights for… reasons unclear, even (it seems) to him. He spends much of the film fighting Sigismund's army led by Møller's Torak at what feels like the whim of the royals. As their plot isn't even sensible, it's ...

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  20. Medieval Movie Review for Parents

    Medieval Rating & Content Info . Why is Medieval rated R? Medieval is rated R by the MPAA for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity.. Violence: People are frequently bloodily murdered, including stabbings, shootings, bludgeonings, beheadings, and general dismemberments. A teenager is impaled on a spike and left to die slowly. Burning corpses are seen.

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