31/10/2007

THE LAST LEGION (a review)


The last legion reminds me of the films I used to watch on a Sunday afternoon with my grandfather. It has the same attitude an overall tone as a 70’s actioner, such as "The Count of Monte Cristo" (made for TV with Richard Chamberlain) or "The Three Musketeers" (Olli Read - bless him) . The film has a great feel good factor, with some nice swashbuckling, and a whose who of modern Brit actors. On the flip side, the dialogue is cheesy sounding more like an "ode to films past" rather than an epic, that the audiences today should rightly demand.

Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley lead a cast of well knowns. Firth plays war hero Aurelius. (think Maximus with a boiled sweet in his gob!) who must look after the dethroned child emperor, on the run from a fallen Rome and the raging Goths. (Not a band of middle class kids rebelling in face paint). Kingsley plays a mystic who had been assigned to educate the young boy. The film is improved by the wonderful Aishwarya Rai who gets to act, pout, and be very effective at violence as a Muslim guard/ kung fu siren. There is some genuine chemistry between Rai and Firth, and Rai will bring needed commercial clout in Asian markets, and on DVD sales.

The plot is obvious but enjoyable and the action heats up when the team wend their way to Britannica (for a cheap mortgage?…) to find the last hope for their fallen emperor, the almost mythical "last legion". The famous "Caesar’s Ninth" a courageous group like no other…

The film makes you feel safe, you never doubt the hero’s future, and you know they will be victorious, but as watched as a slice of Brit hamminess, you can almost forgive the wasted opportunity. The scenery is lovely, and captures the Mediterranean roman empire quite well.. Being picky would lead me to ask how the Romans get from Dover to Scotland in one day (like Costner in RHPOT!) but it doesn’t matter. This is the sort of film it is fun to watch but time has left it aside , and film makers need to be more intelligent.

Nostalgia is not what it used to be,

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