Review: The Eagle

I've been in the mood for a nice gritty sword and sandals epic after seeing last years disappointing Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia, and The Eagle certainly delivered.

Channing Tatum (Or Chaningimus Tatumus Maximus) stars as a young Roman soldier, Marcus Aquila, in Roman-occupied Britain - he sets out to restore his family's name by finding the 'Eagle of the Ninth' a precious artifact that was lost under his deceased father's watch, now to rumored to be in Scotland. At first  it's difficult to accept Tatum in the role but as the film goes on, he is convincing - proving he deserves the role. On his journey to the 'savage lands' of Scotland, Marcus is accompanied by his Briton slave in the form of Jamie Bell. Both stars have great chemistry - so much so, that there's something slightly homoerotic about it. Que scene  of Bell being ordered to hold Tatum down as a doctor operates on his leg wound - lot's of eye contact and screaming - and that's just one example. This makes a few scenes unintentionally laughable - well it did in my screening.

This is no camp-luvvie fest though, Kevin Macdonald's direction is stylish, brutal and highly atmospheric. He makes wonderful use of the Scottish Highland locations and there's something particularly dreamlike about some of the locations. The story is powerful and both lead actors are convincing and likeable, plus interesting little appearances from Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong and Denis O'Hare add to the fun. The dialogue is quite clichéd, you can imagine all the references to honor. However this isn't overbearing and when you're going to see a film like The Eagle, it's pretty much guaranteed you'll get some dodgey dialogue.

Being part of a Scottish audience, a lot of the talk of the 'sinister and savage' Scots got some big laughs as well as the way they were represented: the Romans are represented by musclebound Channing Tatum, the Britons by Jamie Bell and the Scots by some big fat hairy blokes. Or if you're not interested in that there's also the Scottish tribe of 'seal people' - bald men painted blue - they're particularly disturbing and Macdonald directs them in a terrifying dreamlike fashion. Also there's not many women in this film - but then again they'd only ruin Channing and Jamie's romance...

The Eagle isn't going to be winning and awards but it's a surprisingly entertaining, brutal and stylish action film and certainly better than the two films mentioned in the opening. And on that, I'd give it...

The Eagle 8978472058669082192

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