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The Eagle

A movie directed by Kevin Macdonald

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Senatus populesque Romanus!

  • Feb 12, 2011
Rating:
+4

Back in the early second century, the Ninth Legion disappeared from history. The current going theory is that they were wiped out in combat in the Eastern Provinces, but there’s also a theory that they were destroyed fighting the Picts in what is now called Scotland. That’s the jumping-off point for The Eagle, a rather lightweight sword and sandals film staring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.

Tatum plays Marcus Flavius Aquila, son of the commander of the Ninth Legion. He’s gone into the army himself and worked hard to get sent to Britannia, where he hopes to not only recover his father’s honor, but also that of the Legion and to recover it’s beloved standard; a gold eagle. The Roman legions fetishized their eagles (or “aquila“, a word suspiciously similiar to the last name of our hero), to an impressive degree. Better in many ways to lose every man in your legion than to lose your standard.

Anyhow, young Marcus gets to Britannia, takes command of a legion, promptly gets injured and drummed out of the service, then acquires Esca (Jamie Bell), a young slave. He eventually hatches a plan to find the Eagle and along with Esca, heads north into darkest Caledonia. Along the way the two fight, bond and generally have an interesting time of it.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was entertaining, well-done and well-paced. Several of the plot twists were telegraphed well in advance, including the biggest one, which was shown to us in the trailers. But that minor complaint aside, it was good. The historical accuracy was decent (though some of the tactics the Romans employ made me roll my eyes. Where’s your pila, boys?), and anytime I see a movie with Romans not using stirrups I get a least a bit happy. Plus it was cool hearing the Picts speaking Gaelic. Yes, it wasn’t Pictish, but it was the best they could do, and at least it wasn’t the Pictsies. Also, the acting was quite decent, and Channing Tatum seems to have done a good job of redeeming himself after some of his other works.

This is minor escapist fare. It’s nothing great, but it is pretty fun and on the whole there’s certainly far worse ways to spend a couple hours.

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August 05, 2011
I enjoyed the review and the historical tidbits that accompanied it.
 
February 13, 2011
Nice review! Although I would give it one star less
I liked that you pointed out historical facts like the stirrups, a simple detail most "Roman" films get wrong. It would also help if they'd use the smaller horses and the saddles with the humps like the Romans did.
The Mohawk sporting tribesmen looked like a clown show to me, but the Romans/legionaries looked pretty decent.
Best wishes.
February 13, 2011
Yes, that was one slight problem I had. The tribesmen looked more like something from "Last of the Mohicans" than something from Scotland.
February 13, 2011
At least they didn't used cheap CGI to "decorate" Barbarians like they did in that weak film Centurion where they sprayed over/erased the "cut-out" tongue of the female hunter... I don't know about you but when I heard in the beginning of last year that the agency had sold the book to two film teams I got very sceptical. Centurion to me looked so rushed. They obviously had a tight budget, but reducing the terrific book to nothing more than A hunting B hunting A with lots of chopped off heads to please the hardcore fans - it never even touched me. So this one was indeed a pleasant surprise.
 
February 12, 2011
Great review, CR! I haven't checked this out yet but, thought it looked like a fun afternoon flick from the trailers. At least, it's Gaelic and not British, right? Thanks for sharing :)
 
February 12, 2011
Nice review. You liked this a tad more than I did. Great commentary about the Pictish Gaelic dialogue. Thanks!
February 21, 2011
Hi, CR! I just wanted to drop by again to thank you for all the great contributions in Movie Hype! Truly appreciated!
 
1
More The Eagle reviews
review by . February 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Honor and Loyalty Is All About Choices and Stand By Those Choices....
Stories about honor and courage. A lot of us have all been there. I have to admit I went to “The Eagle” with extra low expectations since I was never a fan of Channing Tatum (Fighting) but though it doesn’t say that this is a terrific film, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t horrible. Adapted from the story “The Eagle of the Ninth” (book one of Rosemary Sutclif's "Aquila Family Dolphin Ring" series), director Kevin MacDonald's film shares …
review by . March 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Ninth Legion needs a good map
What’s with it with the Ninth Legion? It keeps disappearing into the wilds of what now is Scotland. Once is bad enough (Centurion, which was bad enough), but twice?       The Eagle is the Ninth’s old story. The soldiers set out in 120 or so to bring some Roman peace to the Picts. They don’t come back, and neither does the Eagle standard, which means loss of honor to Rome and to the unfortunate commander of the Ninth. Twenty years later his son, Marcus (Channing …
review by . July 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****     I often enjoy a night at the movies where I can merely enjoy the sheer spectacle of a production rather than bask in some complex, consistent story. These experiences are much needed, as we all need a good form of escapism. However, even escapist entertainment must be well-made for me to fully enjoy it, and that's why I'm constantly disappointed by the majority of the movies that most would dismiss as, well, "escapist entertainment" (example: the recent …
review by . May 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
12A - 114mins - Adventure/Drama - 25th March 2011 Now I'm not great at working out whether this was historically accurate or not so that's not going to be affect the way I rate this new movie. I'm just going to assume that all was well unless someone cares to correct me in my ignorance? Except for the fact that thumbs up in a gladiatorial ring means kill (simulates thrusting the sword up into the body) and thumbs down means live... can't let that one slide, ever! As for whether …
review by . February 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The Eagle is such a twenty-first century movie, and this is clear not only from the casting of American actors as Ancient Romans and the easily understood dialogue, but also from the beliefs the filmmakers apply to it – beliefs that, in all likelihood, weren’t shared by the vast majority of the populace nearly 2,000 years ago. The film explores, rather simplistically, themes of inequality, ignorance, and how imperialistic viewpoints …
About the reviewer
C R Swanson ()
Ranked #61
   I'm an aspiring writer and reviewer. I run a blog, I'm working on a novel and spend my free time reading and playing video games. I also spend waaaaay too much time and money on movies. … more
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About this movie

Wiki

  • Opened February 11, 2011 | Runtime:1 hr. 54 min.
  • PG-13
    Battle sequences and some disturbing images
  • A Roman epic adventure, based on the classic novel of the same name, set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Jamie Bell) Marcus sets out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia – to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory, and retrieve the lost legion’s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth.
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, Donald Sutherland
  • Director: Kevin Macdonald
  • Genres: Historical EpicAction
  • Poster art for "The Eagle"
  • view wiki

    Details

    Director: Kevin Macdonald
    Genre: Drama
    Release Date: 11 February 2011 (USA)
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Runtime: 114 min
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