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Roman gore fest strives for honour

The Eagle Historical drama. Starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong >Mark Evans

MovieMAKERS must be cursing Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe for setting the bar for epic action dramas so high with Gladiator. And it's doubly unfortunate for the makers of The Eagle to have the movie releasing months after a movie, Centurion, about the very same subject: the disappearance of Rome's Ninth Legion in northern Britain.

At least The Eagle knows what its audience wants -- a bit of decent dialogue and plenty of gore. And it delivers blood by the bucket.


The movie opens in the year 140AD in gloomy Britain -- where it always rains and every legionnaire has an EastEnders accent -- 20 years after the Ninth Legion's disappearance.

And there's a bit of payback due, with the arrival of new garrison commander Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum), whose father, the head of the doomed legion, died in ignominy as he lost his command's eagle standard, which had never before happened in the empire's proud history.

Cue a very gory intro as a driven Marcus braves a Celtic horde and gets crushed under a wagon for his troubles, severely injuring his leg and putting paid to his army career and his hopes of restoring the family honour.

However, recuperating at the English home of his uncle (Donald Sutherland), he hears that the missing standard has been seen in the far north of Britain -- pretty much a no-go area for Romans as it's well beyond Hadrian's Wall.

Accompanied by a slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), who owes Marcus his life, they set off in search of the standard, find one survivor of the Ninth Legion and infiltrate the Seal People, who now hold the symbol they seek.

Will Marcus return the eagle standard across the border to the Roman world?

It's a bit of fun and the fight scenes are very, very good.

DVD EXTRAS: Excellent. An alternate ending , some good deleted scenes, and a number of interesting 'making of' featurettes.