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March 28th, 2011


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07:26 am - The Eagle
I went with my kids to see The Eagle, a film based on Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Eagle of the Ninth. I was a big fan of Sutcliffe when I was a little girl, though I have forgotten most of the detail of what she wrote.

The first part of this film was pretty solid: new centurion turns up at a fort, establishes himself, is wounded. It was like a 1950s western - you know, sensible and passable. Once the plot got going though, once the centurion and his slave boy venture north of Hadrian's Wall to reclaim the eagle standard, it all got exceptionally silly. Grown-up people would have plans and communicate them to each other. I also felt there was a kind of projection of modern western colonial privilege, but to examine this in any depth would be over-thinking it.

Part of the problem is that Channing Tatum is quite handsome but not too good an actor. The slashy story was ladled on by the hand of Marketing, and there was no chemistry. Before the film began there was some spurious 'Hollywood interview' with the lead actors and they were all 'I've totally got a man crush on him... it says here in my press notes'. Really, if you have to do this, do it with some conviction.

I don't want to be a total bitch, even though I am :-) Those who like Merlin and Robin Hood might well like this. I am guessing. It really isn't the thing for me.

Oh, the visual design was very good actually. I don't know if they brought in a team who are used to working together, or relied on one talented guy.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:vilakins
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
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They made Esca a slave boy? I thought he and Marcus were either the same age or Esca was if anything older in the book; he was a gladiator after all. But then I'm always surprised if films or series are faithful to books.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
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Yes both slave and boy. I utterly forget the original. It's possible I never read it. I had an irrational prejudice against Romans when I was 8.

ETA I see Jamie Bell is about 24, but he was definitely portrayed as more boyish than the centurion.

Edited at 2011-03-28 06:57 am (UTC)
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From:azdak
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
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I'm very glad to hear I can give that a miss. I adored The Eagle of the Ninth as a child and I knew the film adaptation would screw it up, but if it had been halfway good I might have been tempted to see it, and then I would have been angry for days. As it is, I shall spare myself the bother.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
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It wasn't for me, but then I am quite intolerant :-)
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From:espresso_addict
Date:March 28th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
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I gather they dumped Cottia, which put me off rather. Esca was an (adult) slave in the original, but Marcus freed him before taking him across the border. (Little EA remembers having to look up manumission papers.)
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From:londonkds
Date:March 28th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
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Yes, apparently they dropped every single significant female character in the novel to make room for their slashy subtext, which has previously been pretty much the only storytelling fault only found in fanfic.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:March 28th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
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It's making me want to go & reread the novel. As I recall there was some delicate counterpointing of the roles of Cottia & Esca -- so it weakens Esca to unceremoniously dump her.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it's all distorted to make it slashy. But I don't think it works at all. No chemistry.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:March 28th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
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The original did have a touch of love triangle, complexified by what Cottia & Esca stand for (accepting his injury & fighting it, perhaps).
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From:sugoll
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
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I was amused by the recent Christmas episode of Glee, where one of the characters has to ask Santa for a wish, and asks for Channing Tatum to stop being in stuff.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
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Oh, bless him. I just checked imdb and there are five films he's been in that haven't even been released yet. So plenty more where that came from.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 28th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)

The Eagle

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I went with my grown up son (we both read lots of books on the Romans and gladiators) and we found this film absolutely gripping. Of course being Scottish the scenery helped. I also read the book as a child but have no criticism of the film or the actors.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)

Re: The Eagle

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Funnily enough my grown-up son quite liked it too, while me and my daughter didn't so much.
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From:khalinche
Date:March 28th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
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They filmed that just north of where I grew up. I sort of want to go see it for that, although it's a bad reason to go see a film and the 'just north of' part means that the locations won't actually mean anything to me as they would if it had been filmed 30 miles to the south.
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From:communicator
Date:March 28th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
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It's quite beautifully shot too, so it might be nice to see for that reason

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