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The Eagle

by

Jeff Nelson

The story has been done before...the previous attempt was a bit better.

The Eagle
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There was a time where even epic fighting films focused more on its characters and less on the CGI. The Eagle attempts to bring audiences back to this method of filmmaking. However, the movie feels as if it cut quite a bit from the battlefield. Character-driven or not, I believe that the brutal fighting that occurred in this time period should be portrayed as is. The Eagle certainly tried to rake in extra cash by giving the film a PG-13 rating. Even the unrated cut is very tame and felt like a PG-13 rated film. This takes away a lot of believability as battle is brutal and violent and should be treated as such.

Haunted by the disappearance of his father, who vanished with the Roman Ninth Legion on an expedition into the north of Britain, centurion Marcus Aquila sets out to unravel the mystery and recover the legion's eagle standard. In the wilds of Caledonia, the soldier and his British slave counter fierce native tribes and other dangers. The introduction may have portrayed me as primarily being disappointed by the lack of violence in the war scenes. However, this is a small issue compared to how I felt regarding quite a bit of the screenplay. The story feels oddly familiar as it's almost identical to Centurion, although it was done better in that movie. The film focuses upon the two central characters, Marcus and his slave. Marcus isn't too interesting and the dialogues that occur between him and his slave, Esca, are disappointing. I find this time period to be very engrossing, but the script simply doesn't do it justice. Each plot turn is predictable. There isn't anything here that most audiences haven't seen before. What's the use of making The Eagle a character-driven film when the main role isn't very interesting to start with? This is the question I continued to ask myself throughout the running time.

With the filmmakers trying to make the two central characters engrossing, the actors casted are crucial. The primary character, Marcus Aquila, is played by Channing Tatum. He just might be part of the issue why the character simply didn't draw me in. His performance is robotic. There is very little emotion and isn't too convincing in the role. However, Jamie Bell is a completely different story performing his British slave, Esca. He's absolutely believable in the character and handles the mediocre dialogue very well. If a stronger leading actor was cast along with Jamie Bell, perhaps the audience would find the story a bit more natural.

While a lot of the movie deals with dialogue, there are a few battle sequences. However, the few that appear aren't going to satisfy action fans. As previously mentioned, this a tame movie. Since Universal Studios wanted to appeal to younger audiences, the movie has an extremely small amount of blood. During the scenes that would be violent, the editing quickly cuts away to another scene. Sugar coating such events in a movie that's meant to make viewers feel as if they're there doesn't necessarily work. Audiences who own a home theater system won't be complaining about the sound mixing. The surrounds are mixed quite well into the mix and the dialogue remains clear throughout.

As the credits began rolling, I was left a bit unsatisfied. The story has been done before, the main character isn't interesting, and the battles feel flat. In terms of acting, Jamie Bell truly saves the movie. I found myself becoming much more fascinated by his character than I ever did with the leading character. Unfortunately, The Eagle is forgettable when it could have been pretty good. If you're interested in a film revolving around this time period, Centurion is a bit better.

My Rating = Two And One Half Stars

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