This story is based on some nebulous historical events of Rome’s Legion IX Hispana that Rome lost track of around 117 AD. How you loose 5,000 Roman soldiers is beyond me, but then, if some of the theories are correct, it’s just another reason that the Scots kick ass.
Well, if this movie is any indication of the movie season, things are starting to improve in theaters. But not so much that I would start handing out Oscars for next year. But I would consider not making fun of Channing Tatum now. Hahaha – ok, that’s not gonna happen. Maybe I’ll just not make as MUCH fun of him. Dude, the Step Up movies? Really?
In the realm of Roman adventure films, The Eagle isn’t so bad. It’s basically an ok film marred by a few weird problems. And frankly, not particularly expected ones.
Twenty years after the Roman 9th Legion marched into Northern Britain and disappeared, along with the golden emblem that represented them and their honor, the son of that Legions commander decides to try and regain that honor by finding the emblem. This story is based on some nebulous historical events of Rome’s Legion IX Hispana that Rome lost track of around 117 AD. How you just lose 5,000 Roman soldiers is beyond me, but then, if some of the theories are correct, it’s just another reason that the Scots kick ass.
This is a weird movie in various ways. On one hand, it looks great. It’s well filmed and has the feel of a great period film set in the time of the Roman Empire. Tight, kinetic, gritty battle sequences, great costume design, sub-titles used for the indigenous Celts of Northern Britain (Eventually the Scots, for those wondering), and the acting is actually pretty good. they even use some great traditional Celtic songs in the soundtrack. It feels like a movie that is better than it really is. Even Tatum, as the soldier Marcus Aquila searching for the golden emblem of the film’s title, is actually believable. And of course Jamie Bell is a talented guy, too. But strangely, the wheels fall off of Donald Sutherland’s performance as Marcus Aquila’s uncle. Who would have expected that? Sure as Hell not me.
One of the marginal issues here is the lack of accent on almost anyone’s part. Only Jamie Bell holds onto his natural accent and that makes sense as he plays a Brigante. But for the most part, this lack of the use of accents isn’t really a problem. Except for Sutherland. For some reason, it felt like he was even less interested in bothering with that or even to avoid sounding like he was talking to friends at lunch in Beverly Hills. He totally took me out of the film. What, did he have some time between errands one day? That’s probably all he was needed for, seeing how much he’s in this. Maybe it was a favor to someone. Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell myself.
There are some cliche trappings here and there, but not painfully so. Such as; the pair of leads, Tatum and Bell, play Roman soldier, Marcus, and Briton slave, Esca, respectively. Together they go in search of this Eagle emblem to restore honor to Rome’s 9th Legion. Esca is only helping because Marcus requested he be saved during a fight to the death. It’s a kind of deal where the two guys hate each other at first, then grow to respect one another. But it isn’t all 80’s buddy cop picture either. It’s handled considerably more deftly than that. I was surprised, for sure. Most of the film is quite promising.
But then, the last scene is so glaringly ridiculous, as if no one could decide how to fade to black, that they just went completely cheesy buddy moment on us. It’s just the last couple seconds of the film, but seriously, they would have been better off just turning the camera off without any fanfare. In light of that, it’s interesting that Donald Sutherland does not make an appearance at the end. He probably left to get his dry cleaning and didn’t come back.
I can’t tell you to run out and see this, but if you wanted to kill time on a rainy afternoon, it might make a worthwhile matinee. Or check it on DVD when it comes around. I’m looking at about 2 and 1/2 kittenhands out of five here. This could have been really good with a minor re-write of some scenes and giving Sutherland more incentive.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, as surprised as you are that Channing Tatum didn’t ruin this for me.