I’m not gay or anything, but if Sean Bean ever came up to me and said ‘Hey Laurence, you wanna do it?”, well I would have dropped my trousers and jumped on the bed before you could say ‘Major Sharpe’.
Having said this you could probably guess that I’m something of a fan of Sean Bean, and in one of his most recent films the big, chisel-featured, blonde-haired Yorkshireman once more manages to pull off an epic performance in a film which for all we know could have been about one of his ancestors. The film ‘Black Death’ takes places in England during the afore mentioned plague and tells the story of a young monk who goes in search of his lover whilst escorting the duke of manliness to a village that, through some means, has escaped the wrath of the plague that’s becoming more of a nuisance than Chavs with access to air-horns. Sean Bean features as the captain of a band of religious zealots armed with swords, axes and the medieval equivalent of the Batmobile, whose mission is to find the village and hunt down the 14th Century representation of Lord Voldemort, on the basis that the cunt exists.
Despite the front cover of the DVD (I didn’t get to see it in the cinema because as far as I’m aware it was only on for about two seconds before the DVD release), Sean Bean’s character Ulric takes a secondary role to that played by Eddie Redmayne, that of Osmund, who’s faith through being a monk is tested to the ultimate limit and eventually corrupted through the actions of the antagonist, a witch called Langiva (played by Carice von Houten). The storyline was gripping and the acting was superb, with every actor giving their characters distinct personalities whilst retaining the same kind of grit and ultra-manly fight scenes that Sean Bean practically created (despite the fact that there’s only really one and a bit).
Overall I must say I enjoyed BLACK DEATH. Christopher Smith very kindly gave us a dark, haunting film with captivating performances from both the actors and the stunt doubles (not that Sean Bean requires such a commodity), with some legendary recurring stars (Tim McInnery for one), as well as some fresh talent in the form of Kimberly Nixon, who’s portrayal of Averill (Osmund’s lover) was definitely a star attraction. My only problem with the film, and yes, there IS one, is that there seems to be a lack of any real development as far as the characters go. Indeed, it seems that the only characters who receive any kind of backstory, aside from Ulric, are the men in his…is platoon the right word? Anyway yeah, Ulric’s only history is revealed about halfway through the film and takes about five seconds to get over with before we get right back to the main plot. As much as I applaud the attention-stealing storyline, the action with more grit than a road in winter and the hulking Aryan oozing of raw-manliness leading it all, the film BLACK DEATH disappoints in terms of its character development. I still rank it as being quite high on my list of films that meet my approval, but the writer inside me notices these things and won’t shut up until force-fed chips and Relentless Inferno…together!
Regards, the Beard.