{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Eagle - Movie Review


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3 Stars

In what feels more like an epic Western from the 1970’s than a sword-and-sandal piece of celluloid fun, Channing Tatum stars as the hero who travels to the edge of the world in pursuit of his father’s lost totem; a totem that symbolically will restore the faith of his Roman brothers and sisters.  There is a sense of fun about this picture that it successfully restores to the floundering market of film-going.  It’s light-hearted, completely uncynical, and seems to exist without a touch of CGI or 3D, certainly a feat to be celebrated in today’s world of noisy cinema.

Beginning with disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion, The Eagle picks up where last year’s Centurion (a film I also enjoyed) left off.  Marcus (Tatum) is joined by a slave named Esca (Jamie Bell) on an epic quest to trace the location of the missing Ninth Legion and its infamous symbol.  Of course, no one knows what happened to the Ninth Legion, but, along the way, they encounter their fair share of human challenges in an effort to discover the truth behind his father’s loss and restore the symbol to its proper place.  Based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s Young Adult novel, The Eagle of the Ninth, Kevin Macdonald’s solid adaptation also stars Donald Sutherland, Tahar Rahmin, and Mark Strong.

Make no mistake, this film is a buddy epic of swordplay and charisma.  Yet, it survives those platitudes in that it remains aware of its own history that it doesn’t ever surrender.  As master and slave in The Eagle, Marcus and Esca never forget their true place in the world of Roman heroics.  They remain close, yet socially-wise, too.  They have their places in the world and to return to the society means they have no qualms about never getting that close.  This historical reverence gives the film an edge over others in that it seems to be more grounded in a respect for the past than others.  Gloriously shot by Anthony Dod Mantle - who won Best Cinematography for Slumdog Millionaire - The Eagle provides some pretty epic slices of mountainscapes and forest scenes as Marcus and Esca traverse toward their fierce encounter with the Seal People.

Macdonald directs with workhorse sensibilities.  Nothing too bold and nothing too grand.  The violence is suitably PG-13 and recalls the glories of John Ford or other eras of solid filmmaking.  The action sequences are clever, epic, and full of rich and quick edits that always pushes the film forward with cerebral quickness.  The choreography is quick and as rapid as the edits, but the swordplay is fantastically heroic.  Yet, what emerges through the film is just how historically authentic Macdonald is with this picture and his intelligent supposing about what happened to the Ninth Legion are interesting and thoughtful.

There’s nothing off-putting about Tatum’s turn as the classically-minded hero and neither is there in Bell’s wired performance as the reluctant slave.  Each actor knows the purpose of their roles in the script and they know what to do with them.  They aren’t shooting for the moon here and they have no reason to do so.  This is popcorn fair, not Oscar bait.  Yet, their chemistry seems to work better when they are playing it cold shoulder than all buddy-buddy toward the film’s conclusion…even if they are rather stoic about their “warming” up to each other.

The Eagle won’t challenge the masses with confounding scenarios or cross-dimensional aliens from Mars.  It will solidly entertain you, though.  With the right attitude about the movie and its matinee intentions, The Eagle is an engaging trek through a rather plausible theory concerning an infamous mystery in history.  It’s enthusiastic and full of gung ho bravado.  To my sensibilities, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.


{2jtab: Film Details}

the Dilemma - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images..
: Kevin Macdonald
: Jeremy Brock
Channing Tatum; Denis O'Hare; István Göz; Julian Lewis Jones; Paul Ritter
: Adventure
Memorable Movie Quote:
"I hate everything you stand for."
The Eagle
Focus Features
Official Site:
Release Date: February 11, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
June 21, 2011

Plot Synopsis: In 140 AD, two men - master and slave - venture beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest that will push them beyond the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal, friendship and hatred, deceit and heroism... The Roman epic adventure The Eagle stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell and is directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald.

20 years earlier, Rome's 5,000-strong Ninth Legion, under the command of Flavius Aquila, marched north carrying their treasured golden Eagle emblem. They never returned; Legion and Eagle simply vanished into the mists. Hearing a rumor that the Eagle has been seen in a tribal temple in the far north, Flavius' son Marcus (Tatum), determined to restore the tarnished reputation of his father, is galvanized into action. Accompanied only by his slave Esca (Bell), Marcus sets out into the vast and dangerous highlands of Scotland - to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father's memory, and retrieve the hallowed Eagle. Along the way Marcus realizes that the mystery of his father's disappearance may well be linked to the secret of his own slave's identity and loyalty - a secret all the more pressing when the two come face-to-face with the warriors of the fearsome Seal Prince (Tahar Rahim).

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

The Eagle - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

2 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Review:

Available on Blu-ray - January 21, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH; French; Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download); BD-Live; Mobile features

Universal's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer renders the natural-lit look of the film exceptionally well.  Colors are vivid and earthy and only a hint of crush occurs during the night scenes.  Grain is strong and consistent throughout making this a champion among Universal’s recent releases.  The superb DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track keeps the triumphant thump of battle fresh in the ears and gallops its way toward victory with ground shaking bass levels.



  • Kevin Macdonald's commentary is a bit dry and way too reverent an affair to sit through.  He is proud of the achievement of The Eagle, but doesn’t vocalize that through bombastic tones in his speech. This is an interesting, but flat commentary.

Special Features:

The two cuts of the film supplied aren’t full of night-and-day differences. They run the same length and have more to do with a visual addition than anything else. The sole featurette is basic and not too fresh as it is full of narration and interviews and goes nowhere near the depth it could have gone.

All in all, the supplemental material is a bit of a disappointment.

  • The Eagle: The Making of a Roman Epic (12 min)
  • Two Deleted Scenes (6 min)
  • Alternate Ending (5 min)
  • Alternate Cut of ‘The Eagle’ (114 min)


{2jtab: Trailer}