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MOVIE REVIEW: The Eagle

Interview with Channing Tatum, who stars with Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland

Channing Tatum as Marcus Aquila in "The Eagle."

Channing Tatum as Marcus Aquila in "The Eagle."

  • Channing Tatum as Marcus Aquila in "The Eagle."
  • A scene from "The Eagle."
  • The Eagle
  • The Eagle
  • The Eagle
  • A scene from "The Eagle."
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Director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) gives viewers his take on the classic Rosemary Sutcliff novel about 2nd-Century Britain, in which a master and slave go after a golden eagle that the Romans lost in battle. Now, if this was the 20th Century, it would be a buddy cop picture.

These two never really become friends along the way, and there’s no love story.

Sure, a few seal women check out Channing Tatum and giggle.

And what is a seal woman, you ask? The seal people are some vicious warriors that wear seal skins, make-up, and are seriously scary.

During an interview I did with Tatum, when talking about the lack of females in the cast, he said “Yeah, there were only a few in the background. There was a girl in the novel, but Kevin didn’t want us reading it.”

Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) is really good as the loyal slave, and a white bearded Donald Sutherland (like his appearance in The Mechanic), has an interesting small part in the first part of the film.

I asked Tatum if having an actor like Sutherland – who we know so well from so many roles – adds a lot of baggage the audience gets distracted by when we hearing his voice.

“I think it’s great baggage to have. He always has that twinkle in his eye, too. It’s like a psycho path. Yet he also has that reassuring quality, like a father-figure. He’s like a jack of all trades.”

Tatum, with his rugged good looks and jawline, does fine with the material given him. The cookie-cutter characters could’ve been a tad more compelling. And there were a few times Tatum attempted a British accent, reminiscent of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.

There’s nice scenery and the action scenes are choreographed well. You’re not looking at a fight scene like 300, where there are so many people it looks ridiculous.

Along with all the other gladiator type of scenes you’ve seen before, there where a few different things here. Sometimes it was powerful stuff like bodies hanging upside down, or during a battle, a head by the feet of someone that’s fighting. Oh, and before a battle scene, we see one guy lean over and barf. And really, who could blame him? This isn’t like a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. You lose a battle here, your head will be next to the one at your feet.

I asked Tatum about how hard it was to get into shape for this role. “I had been an athlete in high school and had ridden horses before. When I was nine, until the age of 13, I did Kung Fu and mixed martial arts. They had us training four to five hours a day. From 9:00 to 9:00, we’d have the various things we’d work on. Physically, it was 10 times harder than I thought. We’d be shivering and cold, and we’d be wet. We’d have to do those scenes over and over. When the horse fell, that was all real. The grass was wet and spongy, though. They also chopped it up to make it even softer.”

Tatum ended up talking at great length about history being his favorite subject in school and that “In high school, Gladiator and Braveheart were my Star Wars. I loved those movies and watched them over and over.”

This doesn’t rise to the level of those movies, but it’s not a Centurian or Troy, either.

The Eagle also has a score that soars.

And it has landed – at a theater near you.

I’m giving it a C.