A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this honor-and-freedom-themed historical action/drama set during Rome's occupation of Southern Britain has lots of fighting and violence. There are battles with swords, blades, and bows and arrows, as well as some blood, strangling, a severed head, and dead animals. Characters tell stories of bloody, exhausting battles, and a man smacks a young boy across the face. Language is minor (words include "ass," "fart," and "pissing"), and there's a little drinking -- but no sexual content. Although characters begin to doubt the need for war, that doesn't stop their penchant for violence.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In 140 A.D., during the Roman occupation of Southern Britain, soldier Marcus (Channing Tatum) lives in the shadow of his disgraced father, who disappeared along with his entire legion many years earlier. In doing so, Marcus' father lost the "Eagle" of the title, a symbol for Roman glory. After being heroically wounded in battle, Marcus recuperates with his uncle (Donald Sutherland) and rescues a slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), from a deadly battle. Unable to live with disgrace any longer, Marcus decides to take Esca and journey into enemy territory to find the fabled Eagle, thereby restoring his father's good name and setting things right. What Marcus doesn't realize is that the journey will teach him more than he ever could have realized.
Is it any good?
The movie has a heavy, gray look, and it's mostly humorless. It delves into the battles with grim resolve (and choppy editing), and it's not clear whether the violence is supposed to be fun or cautionary (if it's the latter, then there's an awful lot of it, and it's tiresome). Fortunately, in his small role, Sutherland strikes a nice, cheerful tone that -- in larger doses -- might have made the movie more fun.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) has had mixed results with his fiction movies (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), and his rather impersonal approach doesn't suit this stodgy historical action movie. It takes a while to get going, and then its promising idea -- the "road trip" with the two enemies-turned-friends -- doesn't pay off. The film fails to really narrow its focus on these two, instead pondering larger issues, such as honor, glory, war, and freedom. The humans get lost in the shuffle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it essential to the story? Why or why not? How does it compare to what you'd see in a horror movie?
What does the Eagle of the movie's title represent? Is it a good symbol or a bad one?
What does the hero, Marcus, learn over the course of his journey? Is he a positive role model?
- In theaters: February 11, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 21, 2011
- Cast: Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell
- Director: Kevin Macdonald
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: battle sequences and some disturbing images
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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