The Eagle (Blu-ray)
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|Contributor||Istvan Goz, Channing Tatum, Kevin Macdonald, Paul Ritter, Bence Gero|
|Runtime||1 hour and 54 minutes|
Kevin Macdonald directs this lavish historical action adventure based on the children's novel 'The Eagle of the Ninth' by Rosemary Sutcliff. Channing Tatum stars as Marcus Aquila, a young Roman soldier in 140 AD Roman-occupied England, who sets out to honour his father's memory by tracking down the long-missing Roman Ninth Legion in which his father once served. Accompanied only by his British slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), Marcus travels beyond Hadrian's Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia to confront its savage tribes and retrieve the lost legion's golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Package Dimensions : 18 x 13.8 x 1.5 cm; 70 Grams
- Director : Kevin Macdonald
- Media Format : Blu-ray
- Run time : 1 hour and 54 minutes
- Release date : 17 November 2011
- Actors : Bence Gero, Istvan Goz, Channing Tatum, Paul Ritter
- Language : English (DTS 5.1)
- Studio : Universal
- ASIN : B017NAFTXM
- Country of origin : Australia
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
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Andrew MacDonald's film is very much a classic old-fashioned adventure film seen through modern eyes but managing to avoid many of the clichés of the genre, old and new. It reverses the classic casting approach by almost entirely using American actors instead of British ones for the Romans (with the exception of Mark Strong's Dennis Hopper-like legionary gone native), a conceit which works surprisingly well. Aside from a misjudged shot of a ranting druid and a brief fight with some rogue warriors it avoids the excesses of shakeycam and overediting for a smoother visual approach to the action scenes, the desaturated photography managing to turn the Hungarian and Scottish locations into something that looks almost like a lost world while just managing to avoid the tiresome orange and teal visual clichés of most modern action films. There's even a nicely imaginative use of sound in the climax when the sounds of the final battle are reduced not to the usual silence and soaring orchestral chords but those of the two central combatants in a sequence where the audio briefly becomes more impressive than the visuals. Much of the big action is at the front of the picture, slightly unbalancing it for those hoping for the kind of big action movie it seems to start out as, the scale shrinking as the focus narrows and the landscape conversely expands, but it never feels like its dragging its heels or padding things out.
The film initially manages to give a good sense of how the ancient Roman world worked without letting the details get in the way of the story before plunging into the dark savage world beyond the wall, where hard country breeds harsh tribes with more in common with Native Americans than the usual righteous oppressed locals fighting the empire for their freedom. Indeed, when the hero and his slave go on the run pursued by the relentless Mohican-like Seal People, you could easily be watching a Western. Yet even here the film manages to avoid falling into easy good guy-bad guy stereotyping, with Tahir Rahim excellent as their relentless nemesis, managing to create a believable and human character despite having little to work with. Nor does the film opt for an easy hero/villain position on Rome itself, choosing to stake its colors on heroism and courage on either side. Those expecting an epic or a relentless action movie may be disappointed, but as a large-scale old-fashioned adventure, all in all it's rather terrific.
The UK Blu-ray offers a decent 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, director's commentary, a perhaps slightly better alternate ending that gives the Eagle itself more value than the one finally used, a couple of deleted scenes (one explaining why Douglas Henshall gets prominent billing for just a couple of shots as a charioteer who Tatum kills: the rest of his part never made the final cut), a featurette and a more substantial 48-minute making of documentary that doesn't seem to have made the US release.
A good, solid, tough story of honor, peril and courage.
One of the few contemporary films set back in that era which does not just focus on mere imitation of old hollywood blockbusters and tries to give it a realistic look and even a political/existential sense.
Kevin McDonald is a very good director (State of Play, Last King of Scotland, Black Sea) and able to comfortably direct different kind of films and genre.
There is always something bitter and angry in his stories which makes them not common and predictable even if they belong to some very codified and classic genre.
Well made movie, good cast and no complaints.