By: Oberst von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Desperate to restore his family’s honor, Roman Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) ventures deep into the northern frontier of Britannia to recover the Eagle Standard lost in battle by his father.To the Romans, the Eagle Standard was a religious symbol of military honor and glory.Accompanying him is his slave Esca (Jamie Bell), who has sworn an oath of honor to not escape, or try to kill him, or anything…
As an avid reader and watcher of documentaries, The Eagle’s greatest strength is in its stronger than average attempt to create a historically accurate depiction of the Roman frontier.The characters and events as depicted are not to my knowledge based on any true stories, however there is a great wealth of historical data as a basis for the way the characters interact with each other.Any historians will immediately recognize that the filmmakers have derived much of the film from classical sources.
Also in the film’s favor is stunningly beautiful cinematography; the film benefits much from location shooting in Scotland.Filmmaker Kevin MacDonald and Cinematographer Anthony Dodd Mantle deserve lauds for their efforts in every sequence.
Where the film falls flat is in the performances from stars Tatum and Bell, who never seem to be able to overcome a severe lack of enthusiasm.Whether it was a directorial choice or the actor’s decision to have both characters display no emotions whatsoever remains a mystery.The dialog itself does lead you to believe that a great deal of character development was cut from the film.
Some critics have ripped on the fact that some characters speak with American accents, which is an unfair criticism, as an authentic depiction would have them speaking Latin, and they do attempt to give the Barbarians a greater deal of accuracy by using the dead Gaelic language.But honestly, unless you’re a crazy anti-semitic drunk-driver, you’re probably not interested in boring the audience with 2 hours of Latin.
This one goes to the poorly edited action sequences that are nearly bloodless, because they cut awkwardly away to coverage shots every time a blow is struck.This may be the fault of the studio, in a desperate attempt to give it a PG-13 rating.Not every movie needs to be bloody violent, but a movie that involves heads being chopped off and people getting all stabby with each other does need to be.
This one goes to the story, which fails at generating the level of inventiveness that obviously went into other aspects of the film’s production.At what point did Hollywood decide action heroes didn’t need character arcs?Both Tatum and Bell start the film as tough, manly men, and end the film the same way, oh, and supposedly they became friends.The problem is that there is no scene in the film that indicates they are starting to grow accustomed to each other, much less starting to bond.
The most important part of the hero’s journey is that he is changed or grows in some way, and that never occurs.
Plenty of material for the history buff; a missed opportunity otherwise.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever the word “Slave” is used
Take a Drink: during every Patriotic monologue