[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=6839&w=l[/img]Title: The Eagle
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Written by: Jeremy Brock (Screenplay), Rosemary Sutcliff (Novel)
Runtime: 114 min
Release Date: 6/14/2011 (Blu-Ray)
The Eagle is an Action/Adventure epic that manages to tell a very convincing story without excessive use of CGI. While Tatum’s performance may not be anything to write home about, the cast as a whole fits well into the story being told. Bell’s performance is memorable and grounds the final act of the film with a memorable emotional impact. The tone and pacing of the film is excellent; clocking in at just under two hours, The Eagle is neither too long, nor too short. The story is told with enough artistic flair that it never gets boring, and unimportant or trivial plot elements are minimized to ensure that the story stays on track. Overall this is a great example of what I would consider a good weeknight rental that I would enjoy with the whole family. For those of you who love period films (Roman/Greek anyone?) or the Action/Adventure drama, this film is well worth a purchase as the solid AV only reinforces an otherwise engaging and well told story.
Channing Tatum plays Marcus Flavius Aquila a young officer who has just taken command of a small but important garrison just south of Hadrian’s Wall. Aquila is the son of the commander of the infamous Ninth Legion, which was lost to a man along with their standard the golden eagle in northern Brittania seven years prior. Marcus is shamed by his father’s presumed death and defeat and dreams of restoring honor to his family name.
Shortly after Marcus takes command of the garrison, he correctly predicts a night-time raid and saves many of his men. When a larger force attacks the following day, Marcus leads a valiant charge to rescue hostages. During the retreat with the rescued prisoners back to the fort, Marcus is gravely injured. He awakens some time later 200 miles to the south in the villa of his uncle (Sutherland) in the town of Calleva. Marcus is informed that he has been decorated for his valor, and honorably discharged from the Roman army. Unable to walk due to a horrific leg injury, Marcus must undergo a lengthy and painful rehabilitation process.
Some weeks after he has begun to heal, Marcus attends a local coliseum with his uncle to witness a Gladiator battle a slave. The nobility of the slave and his refusal to beg for his life impresses Marcus, who makes an impassioned plea to the crowd and saves the slave’s life. When Marcus is at home later, his uncle informs him that he purchased the slave for Marcus as a gift, and informs Marcus that the slave’s name is Esca. Esca (Jamie Bell) and Marcus do not trust one another, and this eventually leads to a confrontation where Esca informs Marcus that regardless of how he may feel, when Marcus saved his life he became indebted to him. Esca gives Marcus his father’s knife as a token of his bond, and swears he will never betray Marcus.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=6841&w=l[/img]Some time later a Roman politician and his aide are visiting Marcus’ uncle, and the discussion at the table turns to the fate of the Ninth and their symbol, the Eagle. When Marcus hears that there is a rumor one of the northern tribes use the Eagle as a religious artifact, he decides to travel north with Esca as his guide, in an attempt to bring it home.
Marcus and Esca embark on an epic quest to travel beyond Hadrian’s wall, past the edge of the known world and into undiscovered tribal country. With nothing to count on but each other, Marcus and Esca must learn to overcome the hatred their peoples feel for one another if they are to survive, let alone complete their quest.
The Eagle is rated PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images.
The 1080p AVC transfer presented on this disc was a refreshing surprise. Lower budget films have in my experience tended towards lower quality transfers with plenty of digital manipulation. In the case of The Eagle, the cinematography is top notch and combines with a natural, film-like transfer to give a truly authentic presentation. The film features many scenes that were filmed in minimal light, which by necessity required the dynamic range of film. Though some of these scenes suffer from black crush or inconsistent contrast and tend towards slightly excessive grain, the overall presentation is impressive to say the least. Luscious natural forest colors and the warm earthy palettes of mud, rock and peat blend perfectly with warm, wholesome skintones to give this film a striking natural feel. Overall this is a brilliant looking film that is worth seeing for the scenery and cinematography alone.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix accompanying the already impressive video presentation of The Eagle is no slouch in its own right. The mix leans towards the conservative side when it comes to dynamics and LFE content, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The core element of the story is one of stealth, and the sound design lends itself to this theme with dense atmospherics and eerie tribal melodies. Dialogue is clear and easily intelligibly throughout, but always tonally matches with the score. The score of this film impressed me greatly, and when combined with the other AV elements results in a fantastic viewing experience that is sure to impress anyone who enjoys a good action/adventure epic.
While the content in the extras section is in high-definition, there's not a lot of compelling content like one might hope. Overall these were disappointing and the only extras I enjoyed were the "Unrated Cut" and the "Alternate Ending".
- Unrated Cut
- Audio Commentary
- The Eagle: The Making of a Roman Epic
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Ending
- BD-Live with News Ticker
- My Scenes
The Eagle was a movie that sat on my desk for a couple of days as I tried to determine just how much I would like it. For those of you who saw Centurion, you may recall the mixed opinions of viewers of that film. Given the similarities between the films, I was fairly certain I would enjoy it, but remained doubtful of Tatum’s ability to act the part at the same level of Fassbender in Centurion (and Crowe in Gladiator). After watching The Eagle, I can confirm that Tatum doesn’t quite channel the Roman solider the way Fassbender did, but he manages to be a convincing character all the same. He does a good job conveying the inner turmoil of dishonor and confusion over the loss of his father, and as usual manages to be a stolid, straight faced solider as well as any part-time action star.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=6844&w=l[/img]Jamie Bell’s portrayal of Esca is convincing, and emotionally fraught. The moral compass of this story clearly centers on understanding the Britton's side of the story, and Bell makes a compelling case for the demonized Gaulish tribes. The viewer feels the pangs of Esca’s loss, and begins to hope for the same realization to affect the main character Marcus. From start to finish the acting manages to keep you both entertained, and engaged. All of this is layered on a fairly strong script and great editing that is further buoyed by a compelling score and stunning cinematography. The Eagle quite literally flew by (pardon the pun) as I watched it, and left me truly satisfied with the overall experience. I highly recommend that you at least give this one a rent, and if you’re a fan as I stated above, I have no doubt that you’ll consider it well worth your money.