Review: The Eagle

Friday, February 11 by

Well, Kevin Macdonald fans are not going to like me. First I hated his YouTube mashup Life in a Day at Sundance. Now I’m not going to have very nice things to say about his ancient Roman battle movie the eagle. On the other hand, I LOVE Kevin McDonald from “The Kids in the Hall.”

In the year 120 AD, the 9thLegion of Rome invaded Britain. 5,000 men vanished in a humiliating operation. So they built Hadrian’s Wall to keep the Britons out. All this happens before the movie starts. It’s in the opening text.

The real story is that Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) is the son of the leader who botched the battle and los the eagle of Rome in British territory. He tries to redeem his family by leading the Romans to defend Hadrian’s Wall, but that doesn’t work. So he needs to seek redemption by venturing into Britain to reclaim the Eagle.

I think we can all buy this eagle statue as a symbol of national pride. War movies have rabble roused over less specific patriotic symbols. It’s a pretty weak and ridiculous plot that one guy is going to redeem a whole army by finding an object in some large unspecified territory.

Marcus’s guide through Britain is Esca (Jamie Bell), a slave Marcus saved from gladiatorial death. They bond and learn from each other, even when the tables turn and Esca has to pla the master to impress a tribe of mud-coated mohawked warriors.

Perhaps this nonsense would be okay if there were some impressive battles to speak of, but the action is terrible. It’s shot in such the handheld extreme that you really can’t even see anything. A few of the battle formations are Braveheart lite. Marcus leads a squadron with shields in the front, stabbing through the gaps at any enemy brave enough to climb aboard. It still looks like guys in the woods doing historical re-enactments.

It’s just so boring all along the way. The battle talk is lame. The Eagle is Rome and honor and blah blah blah. But Esca has seen the cruelty of Roman warriors. Both sides in war are bad, get it? There are stories of painted warriors of the Seal People who hack off their enemies’ feet so their souls can’t walk to the afterlife (souls sure do give up easy. I would roll to the afterlife.) It’s all so serious, it’s no fun and it’s not fascinating enough to be interesting.

Do you like this story?

COMMENTS

  1. February 11, 2011 8:36 am

    RHW

    You. Are. An. Idiot. You have no understanding of what honor means attested by your flippant “honor…blah, blah…” Comment. As a third generation Marine it makes me both angry and proud that my family has spilled it’s blood over the generations to keep this nation’s honor and freedoms so that assholes like you can display your twisted cynicism with such zeal. It must have really bothered you, all this honor stuff. But, in the end you’re the one who has to look at a coward everytime you see your reflection.
    RHW


  2. February 11, 2011 8:36 am

    Pandemonium

    This reviewer is clearly a moron. Soft, warped civy lack of understanding of honor aside, the slightest bit of understanding of the period would have shown that the painted mohawk guys were Picts (same root word for picture or painted) and that the legionary eagle had religious and spiritual significance to a Roman. The “ridiculous” plot that referred to mirrors an actual historical expedition that happened after the teutoburg wald disaster and makes complete sense in context. A real legionary would also have fought without the flash and ridiculousness shown in most movies and they did a accurate job with the details and tactics of the period. Know what your talking about first damnit!


  3. February 11, 2011 8:36 am

    Pandemonium

    This reviewer is clearly a moron. Soft, warped civy lack of understanding of honor aside, the slightest bit of understanding of the period would have shown that the painted mohawk guys were Picts (same root word for picture or painted) and that the legionary eagle had religious and spiritual significance to a Roman. The “ridiculous” plot that referred to mirrors an actual historical expedition that happened after the teutoburg wald disaster and makes complete sense in context. A real legionary would also have fought without the flash and ridiculousness shown in most movies and they did a accurate job with the details and tactics of the period. Know what your talking about first damnit!


  4. February 11, 2011 8:36 am

    Hypo

    It’s true, the battle scenes aren’t flashy and dazzling and loaded with CGI goodies. They’re just, you know, accurate. One of the few movies I’ve ever seen that actually tries to bring ancient warfare- both the size of the forces involved in a typical encounter and the tactics used- to the screen. The Romans were a people who believed that statues symbolized their gods on earth, and yes, the Eagle WAS the legion. A legion that lost its eagle ceased to exist. If the Ninth Legion’s Eagle was missing, then Rome’s legions would be numbered 7, 8, 10, 11. . . from then on.


  5. February 11, 2011 8:36 am

    Anna

    Um….he’s not trying to redeem “a whole army” but his father’s particular legion, which, if you had any understanding of Rome whatsoever, is perfectly reasonable. And boring is when a movie is nothing but a slaughterfest; this one tried to be a little more realistic and have some charachter development as well. If those two things don’t do it for you, that’s a reflection on you not it.

    Although I agree that there was too much emphasis on the father/honor part, it wasn’t lacking good battle scenes. It was lacking development between the two main characters, which was the most interesting and unique aspect of the film. This was a movie that required a little intellectual depth to enjoy and see through the fairly weak plot. Sorry you weren’t able.