Monthly Archives: August 2011

THE EAGLE

The Eagle (2011) Starring: Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong.  Director: Kevin Macdonald Rating: PG-13 for violence and swordfighting.

     What do you get when Roman Centurions clash with mud caked tribal warriors in ancient England? One heck of a cleaning bill I’m sure. No amount of club soda is going to clean warrior blood off of a cotton tunic, believe you me.

     Oh! You also get a movie called The Eagle.   

     The Eagle is a historical adventure film set in 140 AD, when everyone had to do what the Romans did because they pretty much owned the planet back then.   Channing Tatum, an actor so wooden he weeps maple syrup stars as Marcus Aquila, a bright young Centurion guarding Rome’s border in Northern England from marauding bands of Englishman who want to free themselves of Roman oppression and farm their mud in peace.

     Marcus is harboring a family secret.  His Dad (also a Centurion) led a legion of troops into the same area twenty years earlier and were wiped out by a huge enemy force. This same battle plan was later used by General Custer in 1876 and Seperatist droid army in Star Wars Episode II:  Attack of the Clones. Hoping to redeem his family name, Marcus sets out to find out what happened to the lost legion and hopefully recover the eagle standard they carried with them, which was made of solid gold and not milk chocolate wrapped in gold foil like some legions carried around.

     What The Eagle lacks in action and excitement it makes up in the developing friendship between Marcus and his English slave Esca (Jamie Bell) who accompanies his master on his quest. He’s a Roman, he’s a servant.  Can two mediaeval men share an adventure without driving each other crazy?

     Marcus and Esca eventually find the eagle and battle a bloodthirsty tribe who walk around covered in a bluish gray mud that makes them look like the aliens in Avatar, but without the tails and the tree hugging crap. I don’t know how mud works as a form of battle dress. It’s not like it can stop an arrow. But on the plus side it probably made their skin feel invigorated and energized all day long!

     At the risk of spoiling the ending of The Eagle for you, Channing Tatum defeats Northern England. Esca helped a little.

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UNKNOWN

 Unknown (2011) Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aiden Quinn,  Frank Langella.  Director: Jaume Collet-Serra.  Rating: PG-13

In Unknown Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, a brilliant microbiologist or biochemist, it’s never fully explained what he does, but since he has a big headshot on his company’s website, he must do something very important, because as we know only the most important people are featured  prominently on websites.

Harris arrives in Berlin for a big biotech summit with his beautiful blonde wife Liz, played by beautiful blonde woman January Jones, whose complex method of acting involves staring blankly at people.  But before he can belly up to the bar with the other bionerds, Harris nearly gets dead when his cab careens off of a bridge. Thanks to the quick thinking heroics of beautiful cabdriver Gina, played by beautiful woman Diane Kruger, Harris survives the accident, and because the cab sank into the river, he doesn’t have to pay the fare. I think that’s the law.

When Harris returns to his Hotel after a few days in a coma he finds the summit in full swing, nobody knows who he is, and his lovely wife staring blankly at some complete stranger (Aiden Quinn) who says he is Dr. Martin Harris!

Yes, Unknown is one of those suspense thrillers where the hero has to find out who he is and how he’s going to get his life back from the people who took it. The same thing happened to a friend of mine, but in his case he was a grad student in Rhode Island.

Harris tracks down the beautiful cabbie Gina who doesn’t want to get involved, but when scary guys in black SUVs destroy her crappy apartment (she’s never getting her deposit back) and try to kill her she decides to help the handsome Doctor find out just exactly what’s  the dillio.

There’s lots of intrigue and mystery in Unknown, and the usual plot twist at the end of these types of movies that to mention right now would ruin the whole movie for you.  Let’s just say the ending involves an Arab billionaire, a world changing scientific breakthrough, a team of covert assassins who make scale models of the places they’re going to infiltrate, and Frank Langella, whose deep buttery smooth voice is worth the price of the rental alone.

Final thought on Unknown:  Those intricate scale models covert assassins use to plan a job; do they shop those out to a designer/modelmaker, or do they have a guy in house?