jonesandashes: (clearly it is tea time)
posted by [personal profile] jonesandashes at 02:27pm on 23/02/2011 under
It is Wednesday and I haven't posted yet this week, which means I should get on that. o/ Woo, commitment.

Yesterday I went to see The Eagle. There were a grand total of four of us in the theater (although a handful more drifted in about an hour after it started). Thoughts, I have them. They are kind of long, so I added pretty pictures of Jamie Bell.

The Eagle is about a Roman soldier guy named Marcus (Channing Tatum), who is pretty good at his job but feels like he needs to reclaim his family's honour by stealing back this symbolic golden eagle that his father lost to the Britons a number of years ago. He saves the life of Esca (Jamie Bell), a Briton, who becomes Marcus' slave and who maybe wants to kill him. Together, they travel to the wilds of northern Britain to find...~The Eagle~.
The thing you really need to know about this movie is- okay. The thing you REALLY need to know is that it has Jamie Bell. Jamie Bell was that dancing kid in Billy Elliot and that delightfully crazy guy in Jumper.

...This post might still become a Jamie Bell picspam.

In The Eagle, he looks like this:

Being a legitimately good actor: only one Jamie Bell's special skills.

But the other thing to know about this movie is that it has some pretty significant identity issues. Like, if this movie were a person it would look really good in sandals have a great singing voice and a sense of humour, except then also it would change its mind every other day about what it wanted to be when it grew up.

But movie, you say, concerned. Movie. You ARE GROWN UP. D:

FINE, it says, and you think it's going to pick something reasonable to be about, like the epic love story of Marcus and Esca. But instead it announces that relationships are boring and it's going to be all about honour and the importance of national symbols even though it has already undermined the hell out of both those themes.

That is to say, I think thematic disunity is The Eagle's biggest weak spot. (Other weak spots include there being no ladies to speak of, and being PG-13. I mean, I'm not a huge fan of gore, but at times this was trying to be a war movie. How can you communicate the seriousness and awfulness of what is happening in your war movie without depictions of violence? Turns out that mostly, you don't.)

Anyway. Thematic disunity. There were just too many different kinds of stories they were trying to tell with this one, and so they ended up cancelling one another out. It mostly held together okay until about the halfway mark, when Esca and Marcus set off into the wilds together.

Prettiness levels thankfully held steady.
So they set out to do all and none of the following things:

1. Learn valuable lessons about one another's equally valid cultural experiences.

(Except we don't really know how either of them feel about this in the end, beyond 'look, even the people we just killed can have honour!')

2. Become disillusioned with the motivations of both Rome and the Britons, in particular how often people slaughter one another over symbolism.

(Except Marcus still has a huge stan for Rome, and in the end the WHOLE POINT is to return The Eagle, which they nearly kill themselves to do, even though Esca supposedly hates everything Rome stands for. See point 4.)

3. Fall in love and/or become best buds

(This is the movie I wanted to watch. Except that storyline goes like this: INTENSE STARES, then hatred, then inexplicable loyalty based on...honour? that is somehow not even very slashy, and then in the end they act like they've been in a buddy movie the whole time, which dude, they haven't.)

4. Flesh out Esca's complicated and mysterious motivations

(This- was really unsatisfying. Esca's motivations for almost everything beyond the halfway point were kind of inexplicable to me. How do you feel about your people, Esca? How do you feel about Rome after you get to know Marcus better, Esca? How do you feel about that stupid Eagle, Esca? What does Marcus mean to you, Esca?)

5. Reclaim The Eagle, symbol of Rome.

Actually they did accomplish that last one. I suppose this was kind of the point all along. But as far as ultimate goals go, it was surprisingly static - in the beginning they wanted to reclaim The Eagle and get out alive. The stakes were never really raised after that. Also, the entire thing being about reclaiming The Eagle - and that doing so was WORTH IT - is super unsatisfying. I kept waiting for Marcus to discover that there were more important things than The Eagle like, say, Esca, but he NEVER DID. /o\

Those things aside, I still had a lot of fun watching this movie. Things I did really enjoy:

- Jamie Bell. Jamie Bell is extremely pretty, and absolutely transcends the movie he is in with the power of his mad acting chops.

Acting. Mmmmhmmmmm.
- Relatedly, I found Esca kind of confusing? But he was still the most interesting character in the movie. Intense stares! Being good with kids! Being played by Jamie Bell! :D :D

- Marcus is unexpectedly endearing. He's all for Rome, but he's so *earnest* about everything I just sort of wanted to pat him on the head.

- Marcus has an uncle, who is hilarious.

- There is a scene where characters look up sharply from from their food a la Dramatic Groundhog *three times*. In the *same scene*. It is wonderful.

- The scenery is really gorgeous. And unrelentingly wet. I felt vicariously soggy on the characters' behalf. :D

- The soundtrack is fabulous. I want to watch the movie this soundtrack thought it was for. I wonder if that movie was the same one Jamie Bell thought he was in.

So, I liked the characters, and I liked the premise. This movie had all sorts of potential, which it occasionally even did cool things with. Apparently the book it's based on does a better job. It was aaaaaalmost pretty awesome, until the second half kind of collapsed under the weight of its half-dozen competing themes.

Is The Eagle still worth it for Jamie Bell?

Yes. (...A lot of things are worth it for Jamie Bell. I sat through Jumper for Jamie Bell. Happily, this movie is better than Jumper.)
Although, I mean. *points up* Jumper: clearly not a complete waste of time. Usually I just watch The Jamie Bell Show anyway.

In conclusion: Jamie Bell, please start being in movies that are actually really good. It would make following your career way more fun.


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