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How the mighty have fallen. To see the director of the great docudrama "Touching the Void" produce such a drab piece of "epic adventure" as "The Eagle" is appalling. The setting is second century Britain. Roman imperialist commander Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) heroically defends his soldiers against the fierce tribes of Caledonia. Marcus is badly wounded during a siege on his troops' fort. He receives an honorable discharge. Next, during a gladiatorial competition between diminutive Caledonian slave Esca (Jamie Bell) a and an imposing Roman gladiator, Marcus uses his status to influence the slave's release. Esca thus becomes Marcus's personal slave, indebted for life. Eager to put his stamp on the books of history, Marcus concocts a mission for himself and Esca to travel beyond Hadrian's Wall, which separates Rome's northernmost territory, to go in search of Rome's totemic "Eagle of the Ninth Legion." The gold standard was lost 20 years earlier by the 5,000-troop brigade which Marcus's father commanded. In light of modern culture's jaundiced view of such imperialist attacks as Rome's takeover of Britain, the filmmaker remains hamstrung to generate empathy for the main character, much less that of his oppressed slave—whose traitorous actions only fuel more disgust. "The Eagle" is a problematic piece of wartime propaganda that asks the viewer to idolize a manifestation of imperialist destruction as something honorable. Such false devotion reveals a lack of ethical consideration from all parties involved.
Rated PG-13. 114 mins. (C-) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
Posted by Cole Smithey on
February 7, 2011 in War | Permalink
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