Movie review – The Eagle


The Eagle
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Kevin MacDonald

The Eagle is based loosely on the legend of the Roman Legio IX Hispania, which is said to have been lost in Britain sometime in the second century AD. It follows a young Roman centurion, Marcus Flavius Aquila (Tatum), who is on a quest to recover the Golden Eagle of his father’s Lost Legion – the Roman Ninth Legion – and restore his family’s honour. Accompanied by a Briton slave, Esca (Bell), Aquila makes his way north past Hadrian’s Wall in search of the lost Eagle.

While I do not expect a whole lot of historical accuracy from Hollywood blockbusters, once in a while Hollywood can surprise.

While The Eagle is hardly historically accurate, you can feel that Kevin MacDonald worked hard to portray the legend authentically without sacrificing the entertainment value.

Tatum feels a little out of place as a Roman centurion, a man of honour, virtue, and conviction, dedicated completely to the glory and superiority of Rome. He seems to lack some sincerity when playing Aquila. In fact, the “Americanness” of some of the legionaries, including Tatum, almost provides the feeling of watching a unit of U.S. Marines that has been thrown back to 140 AD and is fighting with swords and shields instead of M16s and Kevlar vests.

Another disappointment is the portrayal of the native tribes of Britain from the period. The further north Aquila and Esca travel, the more movie-like the tribes they seem to become. By the time the two travellers reach their destination, it seems like the viewer is watching warriors that are a mix of James Cameron’s Na’vi and Mohawk natives. It really threw off the vibe of being in the Scottish Highlands, even if it is 140 AD.

The score for the movie seemed to be a little scatterbrained as well. It was as if the orchestra was sleeping through much of it and was rudely awoken in specific scenes. Instead of setting the mood throughout the movie, it seemed to come in when it was most needed and then overcompensate.

With a good story line and perfectly-executed battle scenes, The Eagle is middle-of-the-road: better than the disgustingly poor Clash of the Titans last year, but not quite good enough to be level with Gladiator.

Sebastian Prost

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