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on February 23, 2011
Loosely based on Rosemary Sutcliff's novel The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy), with its sweeping cinematography and the hauntingly atmospheric score by Atli Orvarsson, this movie set in Britain 140 AD starts as a slice-of-life military drama and quickly twists off into epic adventure. Though billed as some sort of soldier/daddy-worship epic, with nary a woman in sight, this movie unravels into an amazing bromance that seems more like a love story between two young men from different walks of life than anything else.

Marcus(Channing Tatum) is forced out of his career as a soldier by battle wounds received while defending his first command post in distant Britain. The son of an infamous Roman commander who marched 5000 men into northern Britain and subsequently vanished, Marcus's dream of winning back his family's honor through soldierly deeds is summarily crushed by his discharge from service. Languishing in civilian life in his uncle's villa, Marcus' hatches a plan to win his family's honor back with the help of his Briton slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), by different means. Marcus will find the eagle standard of his father's lost legion by traveling into the hostile unconquered northern lands (Caledonia, or modern day Scotland) and Esca will lead the way. The tension and conflict between The Eagle's two main characters powers the movie along to its surprisingly up-beat conclusion.

It is a rare treat to see a movie that takes place in pre-Christian Britain. The costuming is impeccable and the people are gritty, filthy and refreshingly normal looking: no magic Hollywood showers or supermodel background characters ruin the believability of the time and place this movie hearkens to. As far as visual storytelling goes, I was impressed that so many plot points, shifts in attitude, and changes in relationships were indicated by simple glances, a change in wardrobe or what a character happened to be holding in a scene, without any dialogue whatsoever.

The strengths of this movie lie in its visual story telling, its pacing, and in the acting skills of its secondary characters. Jamie Bell gives an incredibly believable and understated performance as Esca. One of the most heart wrenching moments is the movie (and unquestionably the best acted monologue) is Esca's tale relating the fate of his family. There is no flowery verbage, no dramatic shouting, yet this simple soft-spoken monologue brought tears to my eyes. Tahir Rakhim's portrayal of the Seal Prince (a group of people entirely invented for this movie) was also done with staunch realism and believability. The inclusion of Gaelic dialogue was a pleasant surprise that helped emphasizes the social and cultural differences that existed between the people of the British isle and the Roman invaders at that time. It was with the Roman actors that I felt a bit of a disconnect, finding the mannerisms and verbal ticks of Strong, O'Hare and Sutherland to be a little too modern, though Sutherland's up-beat performance was remarkably refereshing in an otherwise emotionally heavy movie.

I'm very fond of this movie but will admit its most immediate faults. A common historical inaccuracy is perpetrated in the gladiator scene, with the thumbs-up/thumbs-down being reversed. I fear that this may be a mistake the movie industry never rectifies. And while the movie holds together beautifully up until the final battle with the Seal People, around then the dialogue gets clunky and loses some of is brusque magic. Guern's " I just have to tell you real quick yer dad wasn't a coward" speech as well as Marcus's pyre speech made me cringe a little. Both were very heavy-handed and awkwardly performed. Also, a rather large plot hole was torn open with the murder of the Seal Boy. Are we actually to believe that while chasing Marcus and Esca down on foot, the Seal Warriors carried this kid along just to kill him? After the boy is laid down in the water, he is never seen again. Guern receives a hero's send off, and the child Esca befriended is nowhere to be seen. I doubt the boy's murdered needed inclusion at all. If his death was only to induce Esca to fight, well...it was already fairly reasonable to believe that because of their bond, he would have fought with Marcus anyway.

Overall, this movie is visually stunning and emotionally intense without being melodramatic (at least until that end bit), and so I happily recommend The Eagle to history buffs, fangirls and fangirls of history. It may not be perfect, but The Eagle has the rare ability to transport a viewer to another time and place for two hours. Give it your time, and you will certainly be amused.
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on April 11, 2017
Incredibly disappointed in this movie. While I understand that events often have to change to condense a book into a 2 hour movie, people should not, particularly when the hearts and relationships of those people are the strength of the book.

In the book, Esca and Marcus have a deep friendship defined by mutual respect and abiding love for one another. Marcus calls Esca "Brother" often. It is this relationship that makes their quest to find the Eagle possible, the trust and willingness to sacrifice for each other were necessary for their survival. The relationship is important also because it defines both men, showing us that they were able to go outside of traditional mores of their time and live consistently with what they believed to be true. They should have been enemies, but both saw the other as men, as human beings separate from their political culture and circumstances. Their friendship is how we know they were great men- honorable, self sacrificing, loving, with true integrity not shaped by any outside influences. It is the foundation of the story.

In the movie that relationship is wholly changed. There is bitterness, selfishness, and deceit between them. Because that relationship is so changed it in turn changes the men. They are not Marcus and Esca. The movie should have told its own story and not changed the heart of Sutcliffe's masterful telling of not only the tale of the quest for the Eagle, but a tale of friendship, devotion, honor, and love. On its own merit the movie could have earned 4 stars for outstanding casting, excellent sets, and an action packed adventure. Instead they twisted a beautiful moral tale into something it wasn't.
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on October 9, 2015
I go for anything Roman Empire, and what could be more engaging than a Circa AD "buddy pic" of a newly minted Roman Officer (with a disgraced family past) and smart, angry Brittanic slave on the road to follow the trail of the legendary Lost Ninth Legion. Plenty of moody photography, Druid ritual and action with savage period skin-heads. Love Donald Sutherland as the family patriarch, living a retired gentrified life on the "safe side" of Hadrian's Wall.
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on July 14, 2013
This movie will appeal to those who served, it hearkens back to the words Honor and glory, it shows the courage of one who puts the welfare of his troops ahead of himself and yet still has much to learn. Very good story.
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on May 2, 2016
If I could have given this move zero stars, I would have. My children and I read the book and loved it. This movie was not true to the book at all. I am not even sure why it was given the same name as the book. The book if fast paced and historically accurate. This movie is so dull that I fell asleep. I would not recommend it to anyone.
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on March 14, 2017
Fast service and great item. Thanks
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on September 13, 2016
ho hum story, weak graphics, fair acting
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on March 1, 2017
ok
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on December 28, 2012
Well worth the time to view for anyone interested in action films and Roman Britain: A worthy companion to the recent film "Centurion" and a nice adaptation of the book by Rosemary Sutcliffe.
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on August 23, 2016
The story plot was unrealistic. The acting was mediocre at best. Just an overall insult to my intelligence. So unfortunate.
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