REVIEW: The Eagle

Greetings all Montoya here

Recently I attended a screening of The Eagle. Read on for my full review.

It is AD 120 and the Roman Ninth Legion leave occupied England to venture north into Scotland with their Eagle standard. They never came back. Emperor Hadrian commands that a wall be built so that no more Romans venture into the unknown world of Scotland. Twenty years later a young Centurion called Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) arrives to uncover the truth about what happened to his father who commanded the Ninth Legion years before. On his quest he meets a British slave called Esca (Jamie Bell) who accompanies him on his travels. Marcus is determined to restore his father’s honour and recover the Eagle of the Ninth.

Ok the first thing you need to know about this film is Director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) and Producer Duncan Kenworthy have decided to do away with accents so just go with it as I did and you will enjoy it more. It does not take long for the first battle which is as gruesome and bloody as you want from this type of movie. During the battle scenes we also get history lessons in the way the Roman soldiers fought and what tactics they used. The story does a very good job of showing all sides of the occupation of Britain including the Romans, the British and the Scottish.

Tatum does not seem to be taxing his acting muscles here but rather is rehashing his G.I Joe character in a Roman uniform. This is not necessarily a bad thing but rather what suits him and the character. He is driven to this quest to restore his family and Rome’s honour.  His commanding presence sells the character well.

Jamie Bell’s slave Esca is the strong silent type and Bell manages to portray some great emotions from just a look. The pair start out not trusting each other but as with most quest movies they learn the meaning of trust and respect along the way.

Due to the nature of turning a book into a film you always have to make some sacrifices but here it seems that it is just a little too quick and easy how the two central characters come to that relationship and by the end you feel like you have missed a few chapters.

At times it seems that the film cannot decide what it is. It starts as an action film and then moves towards a character piece and then swings back to the action but somehow it works.

Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong bring some gravitas to the proceedings in their respective roles but you cannot help think that Strong was a bit wasted in this movie.

The film itself looks stunning and the director has done a great job using the Scottish highlands as his backdrop. One trend that seems to be appearing more and more in films these days is the use of shaky cam in fight scenes. While I know this is suppose to add to the realism of the battle sometime you just cannot follow what is going on. I am pleased that MacDonald did not over use this method as I am getting rather tired of it now.

Also bringing the film to life is the haunting music by Atli Örvarsson. You could here the music changing as the journey was heading towards its conclusion. From the heavy drums of the Roman Empire to the Scottish melodies the score was expertly used through out the film.

The book was the first part of a loosely connected set of adventures but you cannot help thing that at the end they almost want to make a franchise here.

Overall The Eagle is a great film that is trying to be more than what it is but still delivers a great march to a Roman’s destiny.

GS Rating: 3.5/5

The Eagle

Director: Kevin MacDonald

Writer: Jeremy Brock

Music: Atli Örvarsson

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Donald Sutherland

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3 comments

  1. Red Five /

    I had been dubious about this after viewing the trailer, but might give it a second look after reading this 🙂

    • montoc1701 /

      I had the same thoughts but it is not to bad, just go with the flow and you will enjoy it. But this is not Gladiator.

  2. Son of Scotland /

    A load of nonsense! A fantasy twist on history, the 9th were slaughtered by the warriors North of Hadrians wall, no Eagle or Rome’s glory was ever returned! Who gives a monkeys about the Romans, I was totally on the side of the tribes, pity they didn’t catch Marcus Aquila and give him the same as his father! Had been looking forward to this one as well!

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