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 Tatum), after barely surviving an attack along the frontier, decides he will journey alone into the wilds of the north. He will discover whether his father, the commander, was a hero who died defending the Eagle, or a coward. He is determined to bring back the standard. He will take with him a slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), son of a defeated tribal leader who doesn’t care one bit for the Romans. Impossible odds for Marcus, you say? Thank goodness this is a movie.
Off Marcus and Esca go, over mountains and through valleys. The weather is chill and foggy and gets worse. Esca talks them through hostile encounters. They fight when they must. They learn more of the Ninth Legion…and they learn about a tribe in the far north…the Seal People. They find this ferocious tribe who enjoys wearing blue. Marcus now must play Esca’s slave if the two are to survive. Yes, there is the Eagle, an escape, a few shaggy survivors of the Ninth, and an inspiring battle in a wet firth. Who lives? Who dies? Who cares?
Unlike Centurion, which is more a video game than a movie, The Eagle can be interesting, at least in parts. It features fine performances by Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland, who plays Marcus’ uncle. Bell made his name when, as a 15-year-old, he was chosen to play the 11-year-old Billy Elliot. As an adult he may be small and wiry, but he has become an actor one notices. He’s considerably more believable than Tatum. The wild scenery is well photographed. The Seal People’s village and lives are raw, dangerous and filthy. The Prince of the Seal People (Tahar Rahim) makes an impressively blue adversary.
Even more impressive is the first 20 or so minutes of the movie. Marcus arrives to take charge of a Roman outpost. He barely has time to know his troops before the outpost is attacked. A young fan of Roman history might learn a lot about how Roman soldiers can build a big wooden fort, how unpleasant life must have been for them and how to fight with the Roman short sword. Get together with some friends, bring your shields and you can practice going into battle in the testudo formation. This is a highlight of the movie. You’ll impress your neighbors and any attacking Picts.
The Eagle is sheer popcorn. It has some crunch, even though Channing Tatum is a soft center. It’s hard to beat Roman empire building for entertainment. If only our economy were based on slaves, not oil…
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 … more
**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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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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.