Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
|Featuring:||Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai, Thomas Sangster, Rupert Friend, Peter Mullan, Rory James, Lee Ingleby, Owen Teale, Ferdinand Kingsley|
|Producer:||Tarak Ben Ammar, Dino de Laurentiis, Martha de Laurentiis|
“The Roman world is in the throes of death, but a new myth, destined to span the centuries, is waiting to be born. The untold beginning of the King Arthur legend.”
“The Last Legion” is set in 5th century (460 A.D.) Rome on the eve of the Goth invasion which brings down Roman civilization and plunges Europe into the Dark Ages for 500 years. The premise of the movie features a quest motif like those found in “Indiana Jones,” in “The Lord of the Rings,” or in the original “Star Wars” movie. As part of the quest motif, a varied band of heroes come together to achieve a goal; in this case, they overcome great odds to rescue the young emperor, Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster), who was captured and imprisoned by the Goth king Odoacer (Peter Mullan) and recover Caesar’s 450 year old sword which is as good as new.
The movie is targeted at young boys of approximately 8-18, much like the recent movie “Eragon.” Unlike “Eragon,” it has good production values, better acting, and no CGI. The cinematography is excellent, especially the breathtaking scene in the Alps which I believe is authentic. The costuming, the outdoor sets, the backgrounds, all show great attention to detail and in their way are as convincing as similar pieces in a movie like “Gladiator.” On the down side, the writing isn’t very good, and the score ranges from sentimental to bombastic.
One of the pleasant surprises in the movie is the appearance of Aishwarya Rai, a popular Indian actress. It’s refreshing to see a new face (especially one so beautiful). Rai can act and is more convincing in her physical stunts than Uma Thurman was in “Kill Bill” Volume I and II.
According to the history books, the young emperor, Aurelius, and Odoacer seem to be accurately represented, and even the final battle represents a historical conflict called The Battle of Mons Badonicus. The film merges these historical figures and facts with the legend of King Arthur and Merlin. There are many set pieces spoken by Ambrosinus (Ben Kingsley) which convey either a philosophical or a moral meaning. For instance, he says “Have faith, there is a purpose in all things”; “Prophecy is an act of faith”; and that the medallion is the “symbol of faith and truth.”
While not an explicitly Christian message, there are Christian themes of rebirth, renewal, and redemption. Men sacrifice their lives for their friends and for an ideal. The movie’s core idealism is a throwback to a more innocent time of film making. Viewers who depend on special effects, MTV editing, and sexual content will probably be disappointed in this movie. But if you want to see the equivalent of a good Saturday matinee movie, one that you can take the family to and not be offended, this one fits the bill.
The only possible objectionable scene shows Rai coming out of the river in a wet tunic which clings to her body. However, Aurelius’ response is honorable, and the movie avoids the cheap thrill of making the audience leer through the eyes of another character.
In brief, it’s not a great movie, but it teaches ideals such as telling the truth, being honorable, being brave, and standing up for one’s beliefs. It’s a good role model film, a role that the movie itself consciously tries to play, as in the last line “We need heroes, don’t we?”
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.