Friday, 3 June 2011

The Eagle (2011) - Kevin Macdonald

Oh dear. Kevin Macdonald was one of those directors that I trusted, if his name was after the directed by credit then I'd watch it. Not any more though. One Day in September and Touching the Void were both such riveting and well told documentaries, that when he shifted his focus over to the world of feature films with Last King of Scotland, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. However almost like that crappy thing that the father of the bride always says - 'rather than losing a documentary film maker we gained a great new director'. Well for a while at least anyway.

That's all changed now since The Eagle is yet another tale of Romans trying to tame the savage Celts that dwell north of Hadrian's Wall. This time it's Channing Tatum as the fresh faced young chappie whose father plodded off into Scotland with a legion of men never to return. The Eagle of the title being the lost legions emblem, cue loads of waffle about honour and men and honour and all that. Now when Tatum finds himself with the chance to be behind enemy lines and obviously regaining his father's lost honour, he grabs at it. Heard it all before? Well it's not all that surprising since it's kind of the same as Neil Marshall's over the top madfest Centurion.

Now I didn't expect much from Marshall's film (which was actually pretty good), but as I said earlier Macdonald is one of those watch anything he does types, so expectations were running high for me. Everything was deflated quite early on when it became apparent that our Kev had decided to have the Romans blather with thick American accents. That's kind of a big hurdle to overcome especially when he has cast great British actors like Mark Strong, who then have to put on woeful accents. Piss poor.

And sadly from there it's all down hill, you see the Celts are subtitled (a wonderful brave move), but they also look like leftovers from Last of the Mohicans, and of course this being post Braveheart the fuckers are blue from head to toe. Throw in Jamie Bell as a slave who will help our hero on his quest (or will he?), and you that's your lot. Lots of trudging through the most beautiful landscape on earth overlapped with dialogue that you would never want to recall, and those accents.

It could have been better, so much better. The story is pretty decent, it's the execution that's bad, the look of the film is fine but you find yourself wishing the ground would open up for the actors. Stuck with clunky language and rubber accents they do their best, but I don't imagine many having this on their CV in ten years time. As it is though it's worth a watch if you like seeing bare man legs running away from giant smurfs. Otherwise probably better off watching the aforementioned Centurion since at least that doesn't take itself half as serious as this pile of filmwrong.

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