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Movie Review: The Eagle

I feel bad for not watching it as soon as I got it but somehow the waiting made the movie better. On Friday night I put the DVD in, knowing full well it would be awesome, and on Sunday afternoon, just after I finished altering some black jeans I have (which now look amazing), I will review it. WARNING: prepare for some incomprihensible fangirling over this movie.

The Eagle is a movie adaptation of my favourite book, The Eagle of the Ninth. The story is pretty much the same, with all the best plot points included and some amazing visual touches. Since it was a book, and there were only descriptions to go by, the filmmakers basically could run free with how the world and the people looked. And it looked AWESOME. The whole world was completely Roman and realistic. It wasn’t all shiny and perfect like you’d expect a civilised Empire’s province to look like, but it wasn’t grimy and too Celtic-looking. It was a mixture of both: Roman, but with a rustic touch. It was nice.

The characters also suited their roles very well. I’ve heard that Channing Tatum (Marcus Flavius Aquila) didn’t suit his role and was more used to playing a different type of character. To that I say: whatever type of character you’re playing, stop it and move on to these sorts of movies! He looked really Roman (if that’s possible) and had the right amount of tough soldierness and more human emotions. Since he lost his father when he was very young, he wasn’t going to be all smiley and happy. He had the right touch of brooding (not in an Edward Cullen way) silence and stuff. He had a fiery temper that would suddenly explode at random points, but instead of looking cheesy and stupid, it worked really well. He also played the emotions well, like when he was getting his leg operated on (without anasthetic, I may add), I was there going ‘I FEEL YOUR PAIN!’ because it looked so realistic, and not like Harry Potter, who, when in pain, sounds like Michael Jackson doing his ‘ahh, ahh, ahh’ thing. (I have nothing against Harry Potter, I went to the Warner Bros Studios last weekend with school, and that was EPIC, but another story!) Anyway, and when the doctor said to Esca “hold him down” I was like ‘this is going to be so painful’. With all Marcus’ (or Channing Tatum’s) expressions and stuff, it seemed so real! He didn’t scream or anything, like a cliched scene like that, it was a completely realistic reaction that a battle-hardened soldier would probably do. I mean, he was used to pain, but not THAT much.

Now onto the character of Esca. He was played perfectly well by Jamie Bell, and he had a different light cast upon him in the movie. In the book, he gets on just fine with Marcus, but since he’s a Briton, the filmmakers played up on the shifting loyalties business. One minute Esca was siding with Marcus and the next minute they were on the ground fighting. It was really good to see whether he’d turn out good or bad. There were lots of twists in his personality changes and Jada kept asking whether he was on Marcus’ side at all. I knew what happened, obviously, but it was interesting to see those who hadn’t seen it getting confused about Esca’s loyalty.

Other characters include the uncle Aquila (played by Donald Sutherland, PRESIDENT SNOW!!! Btw, he looks at home in a toga. President Snow should take a leaf out of Aquila’s book) who was a very human character with all different sides to his personality, various Britons and Romans, Guern the Hunter (played by Mark Strong) and lots of soldiers. They were ALL amazing.

Another interesting thing was the language the Britons spoke. I was trying hard to work out if it’s a real language, because it sounded sort of Welsh and Gaelic. It was awesome and the actors must have learnt at least some of it, which is cool.

The fighting was really exciting and very well done, and the battle scenes seemed devastating and realistic. It had a more human side to the whole war thing, by showing lots of close-up shots rather than wide shots and aerial shots. There was a lot of gore (apparently it’s only a BIT less gore than Gladiator, which is a 15 and The Eagle is a 12) which reminded me of Battle Castle with Dan Snow (it’s a show on the Discovery Channel, with quite… blunt gore, if you get what I’m saying), or as I like to call it: The Battle Castle with Dan Show. It wasn’t cheesy though, it wasn’t like heads flying off left and right, it was perfectly done and showed how violent things can be! It also wasn’t cheesy in the sense that ALL the violence happened off-camera, although the REALLY gory and disturbing bits were. That probably would have been too much!

Some parts of the storyline were ever-so-slightly different, but I didn’t mind. Movies and books can’t be compared too closely so the filmmakers had to change some parts to work on-screen. The ending was a little different, but in the Special Features there’s an ‘Alternate Ending’ so I will watch that and see if it’s the same as the book, which is poignant and has that sort of atmosphere to it (you know, that unexplainable one that makes your favourite books magical?!) which is almost tear-causing! If they shot that version it will be intriguing to see how they’ve adapted it.

One point my mum brought up is that there are no main female characters. It doesn’t take anything away, I think, from the story, because if a girl were there it might become too romantic or too much like a ‘kick-butt female protagonist’ genre. In the book there’s a girl called Cottia, who they removed in the movie. It was for the best though because if she were there, there might have been some unnecessary romance (it might be difficult for the audience to get that they’re not flirting, they’re only talking) and another layer to the story they’d have to deal with and clean up at the end.

So overall, if you like action, drama and historical epics, The Eagle is the movie you MUST watch tonight (or any other night, I’m not bothered!). I give it… 1,000,000/10!

Your Roman blogger, Jaz

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2 comments on “Movie Review: The Eagle

  1. Glad you enjoyed it Jaz, but really 1,000,000/10 ? That’s setting the bar a bit high !

    I love the expression ‘fangirling’ – is it yours or a current word I’ve missed out on?

    You might have spotted that the use of the word ‘alternate’ in describing another ending would seem to indicate that the film is American. Why? Because American English uses ‘alternate’ where British English uses ‘alternative’. Americans are wrong (of course) because alternate means changing from one to another and back again, serially, whereas alternative means a choice between two or more.

    As you know, I admire and enjoy your exceptional writing and comprehension. However, may I give you a tip? You have a very full vocabulary but use two words excessively (IMHO); awesome and amazing. Try looking for alternative (see, not alternate!) adjectives. You’ll make your story telling and analysis far richer.

    • I think it’s a word, I may have heard it somewhere!

      That’s an interesting point, but ‘Alternative Ending’ somehow sounds odd to me.

      It took me ages to work out what IMHO meant but I understand, and I agree with your point. I need a thesaurus!

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