The Eagle

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Focus Features

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Review Rating: 6 Golden Eagles

A young Roman soldier attempts to restore his family’s honor by going on a quest to retrieve the lost golden Eagle of the Ninth Legion, that went missing beyond Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland.

I simply utterly fail to see any reason for making this movie in the first place. Most of us history buffs know the legend of the Ninth Legion, that went beyond Hadrian’s wall in wild Scotland to try and further spread the glory of Rome and all that, and got utterly wiped out by mad Celts and who knows what else. Which, hey, is a great story and all, and if you want to see that one represented as accurately as possible, I recommend watching a very fine UK production called Centurion. But this movie, The Eagle, has the son of the commander of the Ninth trying to restore his family’s honor, served only by a former Highland slave, considerably after the fact of the original Ninth Legion story. First Marcus (the son) gets sent to a command post near the Wall and manages somehow to save most of the garrison from a nighttime attack by mad savages. And then, recovering from his wounds taken, he attends a gladiatorial match and ends up saving the life of a slave there, Eska. And of course when Marcus decides to brave beyond the Wall to find the lost golden Eagle, only Eska goes with him, off into the untamed lands.

I have issues with the way the Scottish savages are portrayed in this movie. It’s not that they were shown poorly, it’s more like inaccurately. A good deal of the painted savages in this movie, be they Scottish or Celts or whatever you want to call them, look far too much like Indian (feather, as opposed to dot) savages – the Mohawk hairdo, being covered in face/warpaint of some kind, the bone necklaces and hides for clothing. Yes, while Scottish primitives were, well, primitive, they also took great pride in making textiles with colors and deep meaning to everything they wore, including the patterns. Seeing the oh so trained and civilized Romans face off against the Scottish savages, is like watching a Renaissance warrior face off against a tribal leader from 10,000 B.C. And that’s just entirely inaccurate, even from the movie’s own leadin story – the entire Ninth Legion, more or less, were wiped out by these supposed savages, remember.

The battle scenes are fine, there’s little CGI, not that it’s needed. Channing Tatum of G.I. Joe and Public Enemies fame, stars as Marcus Aquila. We also have Donald Sutherland as Marcus’ Uncle Aquila, and while it’s nice to see him in a toga, he seems very out of place in this movie. Jamie Bell of Jumper and King Kong fame, stars as slave and friend Eska. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t see any real reason to make the film at all, but, there are worse ways to spend an evening. The Eagle gets a rating of six golden eagles.

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