Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Eagle" - in theaters

"The Eagle" is the story of Marcus Flavius Acquila (Stockard "Channing Tatum" O'Neal), a newly minted Roman commander who is stationed in crazy wild Britain. But the plot thickens, because Marcus asked to be posted there. His father was also a Roman commander, and marched into northern Britain/Scotland with Rome's coveted Eagle - basically a gold statue that they carried around on a stick. He took 5000 soldiers with them and none of them came back. And alas, the Eagle was lost.

So Marcus feels like he could make a difference in Britain, including regaining his family's honor. And he's doing a good job of it, until he gets himself injured. Because of his injury, he is sent to his uncle's (Donald Sutherland) house to heal and is also honorably discharged from the military. This is a crushing blow to Marcus, as the military is the only life he's ever known.

While he's healing, his uncle takes him to the arena to watch some gladiators kill each other, like ya do in ancient Rome. There he comes to find Esca (Jamie Bell), a slave who is fighting in the arena. Fighting is being generous; for the most part Esca is taking his beating and refusing to fight. Apparently Marcus sees something in Esca, because he prevents Esca's death. So then his uncle buys Esca for him. And hence, Esca is his slave.

The two of them seem to have a grand ol' time. They hunt, they hang out, and then Esca serves Marcus dinner. All the while, Esca says about 8 words. Then some pompous old Romans come to dinner, and start saying that some tribe native to Britain has the Eagle, way up in the north. The army doesn't want to send anyone, but Marcus volunteers himself and Esca to undertake the quest.

So they head north of Hadrian's wall, with Esca as his guide. They come across many native Britons, and Marcus steers clear while Esca speaks to them. It all seems to be going well, until they get captured by a tribe whose men paint themselves blue all over, and who know the countryside like the back of their hands.

There was a real grit to this picture. It was more "Gladiator" than I had expected, and I dug it. It was also fast-paced and full of action and suspense. I also dug Channing and Jamie; they worked well together. And let's face it: Jamie Bell is the shit. I mean, he was Billy Elliot for crying out loud! Not to mention that he wears the lowest slung pants I have ever seen a man wear. And I didn't hate it.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 7.5. Not an Oscar contender, but a fine addition to the gladiator motion picture collection.

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