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Two worlds collide, along with the two men who embody the values and essence of these worlds. Attila, King of the Huns (Gerard Butler), is a visionary who sees more in his people than they see in themselves. While the Huns are content to plunder and extort the surrounding nations, Attila looks beyond to the possibility of an empire and new world order. Roman General Flavius Aetius (Powers Boothe) embodies the best and the worst of Rome in the final years of her existence. He is motivated by one overriding goal: Rome must continue to rule the world. Two different visions of destiny, held by the two strongest men of the century… these conflicts are at the heart of Attila the Hun.
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I have long been a fan of Powers Booth and his performance here doesn't disappoint. He effectively portrays a very unlikeable, dispicable, manipulative anti-hero. At one point in the movie, he even shares his some of his self-serving advice with Atilla. He plays a very sneaky, conniving "snake in the grass" bad man, and he does it so well. I really love him as an actor, but he was so good at being bad in this movie, I found myself wanting to throttle him!
It is uncommon, I believe, for women to like war movies, but I loved all the battle scenes. The battle between Atilla and his older brother for the right to rule the Huns is a real standout and is very intense and exciting -- no matter how many times I watch it! How they managed to ride horseback in circles while shooting at each other with bows and arrows is astounding and so beautiful that it almost felt poetic. Their final struggle with knives gives the whole scene a heroic feel. Even though I knew Atilla would ultimately win the battle, there were moments where I was holding my breath.
The costumes in this movie are works of art. I especially loved the costume Gerard Butler as Atilla wore for his entrance into Rome. Butler's shoulders are draped with the fur of what appeared to be a wolf -- paws, head and all. This costume adds to the mystique of Atilla's persona as a skilled hunter and Hun conqueror and highlights how much thought and creative energy went into the making of all the costumes. The wedding costumes were lavish and beautiful.
This is a great movie with terrific actors, gorgeous costumes and lavish sets. The more I watch it, the more I love it. Buy this movie and see for yourself what a visual stunner it is..
ATTILA, at its best, reminds me a little of those bygone days. It's a period piece, as so many of the old miniseries were, full of beautiful costumes, beautiful women, exotic locations and -- most importantly -- "legions" of extras. It's also spiked with a fairish bit of acting talent -- Stephen Berkoff, Powers Boothe, Johnathan Hyde, Tommy Flannagan ("Braveheart"), and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth on "Game of Thrones"), not to mention a very young Gerard Butler (well before "300" fame). It does quite a good job of showing the combination of rampant corruption and decay that marked the Later Roman Empire, while also explaining how Rome was able to maintain that empire long after it probably should have collapsed, by replacing her former military acumen with a matchless ability to play her enemies off one another. Unfortunately it's also soggy, melodramatic, indifferently written, and not occasionally clumsy to the point of silliness. If you're a fan of Roman-era movies and period pieces generally, you'll probably want to see it, but it's the sort of series that requires a forgiving attitude and a willingness to go with the flow. Arming myself with these two qualities allowed me to take quite a bit of pleasure in watching it.
ATTILA is set in the 400s A.D., when Rome had divided itself into the Western and Eastern Empires and taken Christianity as its "one true" religion. A young Hunnic boy, Attila (Gerard Butler) survives the massacre of his immediate family by a rival Hun clan, and is raised by his ruthless yet shrewd uncle King Rua (Stephen Berkoff), who enjoys an on-again, off-again alliance with Rome. As he grows up, Attila's dream is to unite the Hun tribes and march against Rome, which he views as ripe for destruction and conquest. He is opposed by his treacherous half-brother Bleda (Tommy Flanagan), but aided by a witch named Galen (Pauline Lynch), who assures him he is the Hun destined to become the most powerful Hun king of all times. During his struggle for power, he falls for a gorgeous redheaded woman N'Kara (Simmone McKinnon), which will have fateful consequences for him later on.
As Attila begins to unite the tribes, he becomes a threat to Roman security. Enter Flavius Aetius (Powers Boothe), a brilliant, calculating, utterly ruthless Roman general who has been imprisoned for plotting against the Western Emperor, Valentinian and his scheming family, but is granted parole because only Aetius, whose nickname is "The Last Roman," has that combination of military smarts and political cunning necessary to contain the Huns. And indeed, after tricking Rua into fighting the dangerous Visigoths on behalf of Rome, he recognizes the potential of young Attila and brings him back to the capital in hopes of seducing him with promises of power and friendship. The two men develop a strange sort of friendship, each respecting the other but both retaining their opposing agendas: Aetius wants the glory of Rome to last forever, Attila wants to finish off the dying leviathan and establish the Huns as the supreme power in the world. Both men are willing to do anything to achieve it, including kill one another, and indeed, the rest of the miniseries focuses on the inevitable confrontation between the old versus the young lion, culminating in the famous Battle of Chalons in 451 A.D. Along the way there is enough mysticism, lust, intrigue, betrayal and violence to satisfy many an appetite.
As I said above, ATTILA has a lot of problems, the largest of which is the sense that the producers/director did not really know how to make the world they present seem authentic, which is the cornerstone of any period melodrama. It's hard to define in words, because the costumes and sets are beautiful, and the extras well-drilled in the fighting tactics of the day, but in many sequences one is nevertheless confronted with a sense of gross unrealism. This is due in part to some questionable casting decisions and much more to a clunky script which is occasionally quite smart but often staggers into silliness and cliche. Contrasting this series with, say, MASADA (1981) or HBO's ROME (2005 - 2007) is an exercise in futility -- there is no comparison. And yet I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it or won't watch it again. Butler, while probably too kindly to play Attilla, is engaging; Simone McKinnon is hot as hell as N'Kara/Ildico; and Powers Boothe, while occasionally over the top, does quite a good job of portraying "The Last Roman" as a man who loves only two things in the world -- his adopted (stolen) daughter and Rome.
All in all, if you're a fan of old historical epics, movies about Rome, or just big battle sequences, you might want to give ATTILA a chance. It's not great cinema, but it gives us an interesting tale about two great men set on a collision course, not only of ambitions, but of ways of life. As the antagonists themselves put it:
Attila: Trickery and deceit. That is the way of the Romans, not of the Huns.
Flavius Aetius: Yes, but which way rules the world?
Feast your eyes and enjoy *a* story. If you're interested in history and real Attila, read up on him. That's often a plus of movies that attempt to portray real people and history - people trying to learn what really happened.