Blu-ray Movie Review
from Focus Features
August 13, 2016
If you're a fan of Roman History, The Eagle will certainly be a film of almost two-hours of entertainment for you. On the surface, the Legio VIIII Hispana was 5,000 Roman troops which just vanished around A.D. 120. Taken from Rosemary Sutcliff's book, The Eagle Of The Ninth, the film also presents the answer to the disappearance of so many soldiers: A British annihilation on a rather massive scale.
Of course, as with any historical explanation, there are other reasons for a large amount of Roman troops to just seemingly vanish into thin air. The other explanation is because of the Hadrian's Wall being built at the time (~100 miles wide, stretching from the Irish Sea to the North Sea), there was a vexation of the Ninth, which literally broke it up into pieces, and the soldiers were incorporated into other legions. Tile stamps which read VEX BRIT were found, so the theory is the "survivors" of the mythical massacre...were, in some cases, making objects, giving their stamp of historical relevance.
I must admit. The latter theory isn't particularly a great plot for a film. Two hours of watching a bunch of guys huddling around campfires, telling stories of creating tile stamps, reminiscing about the Ninth in its prime, isn't much of an action film. However, keep in mind this might be more historically accurate than Hollywood's interpretation. But regardless of which side of history you believe, The Eagle is a film which is mostly overlooked as a rather solid action film. Combined with an admirable cast of characters, The Eagle does not disappoint, and if you happen to own a large HDTV, the cinematography will be very rewarding.
PG-13 vs. Unrated Versions
Two versions exist on The Eagle. PG-13 or Unrated. The Unrated version, believe it or not, only adds maybe 30-seconds or less of footage overall. However, the unrated version does have several scenes which have been revised for more graphic display and realistic follow-through.
Unfortunately, even with some added graphic scenes, the "unrated" designation still does not completely rid the film of empty killings, where it leaves the imagination up to you to complete the interpretation. In many movies, this works very well. In this movie, it would have been much wiser to have all combat situations real, and not toned-down for viewing. After all, this is an unrated version. I noted at least two scenes towards the last 1/3 of The Eagle which were still restrained.
It is 20 years after the Roman Ninth Legion vanished in Britain territory, assumably due to an ambush. Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) is finally old enough to initiate a search for the Ninth. This is personal for him. His father was the leader of the Ninth Legion, and he remembers bits and pieces of his father making smaller wooden versions of the Roman standard. This time, Marcus is after the Roman gold standard, and by doing so, will reclaim the honor of the lost Ninth.
The Eagle was packaged in the preferred VIVA Elite single-disc case. Unfortunately, the disc is a BD-25 / DVD hybrid, where one side is a Blu-ray, and the other is DVD. Since this is a Universal film, released in 2011, it is not surprising to see this as Universal also was the genius who brought us the HD-DVD / DVD hybrid disc, which fell apart (literally) at the seams. Some of you might remember that experience. I don't like hybrid discs at all. They suck. They are not meant for convenience, and are designed to restrict viewing preferences.
Also supplied in this "Best Buy Exclusive" is a Digital Copy.
Video & Screencaps
The Eagle looks very nice. Dynamic colors have been reduced to a simple palette of hints of teal and amber. It works quite effectively, and does not come across as harsh or trying too hard to be stylish. The image itself is rather crisp, although in a few instances, I would have preferred a smaller aperture. Screenshot #7 below for example, I would have liked the aperture closed just a little more, to get a more focused view. In any case, you will not be disappointed. With the video bitrate alone at around 24 Mbps, I'm not complaining much.
Audio for The Eagle came across as a nice musical standard in itself. Some very beefy-sounding effects which should give your lower-frequency speakers a nice workout, along with rich mids. Vocals were understood just fine, and I did not have any issues with hearing dialogs from scene to scene. This is one of the better soundtracks I've reviewed, and it's been long time since I've listened to such a nice soundtrack.
Main Audio Track
English DTS-HD Master 5.1 @ 3924 Kbps (48kHz/24-bit)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Extras for The Eagle are a little Spartan. Yes, I used that word on purpose. The alternate ending is rather interesting, and I would recommend viewing it. Basically, the ending gives a more realistic approach to what we know historically...which is...the Ninth disappeared into mystery. It's too bad the deleted scene wasn't part of the unrated version. It's not entirely critical to the entire story, but gives a little more depth.
DISC ONE - FEATURE FILM
Audio commentary with Director Kevin Macdonald
Deleted Scene (6:23) HD
The Eagle: The Making Of A Roman Epic (12:12) HD
Alternate Ending (4:38) HD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Active Pixel Area: 1920 x 817 pixels
Inactive Pixel Area: 1920 x 263 pixels
The Eagle (Unrated) Bitrate Graph
Disc Name: EAGLE_THE
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Blu-ray Size: BD-50
Disc Size: 39,774,886,209 bytes (37.04 GB)
Movie Size: 27,379,089,408 bytes (25.50 GB)
Overall Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps
Video Bitrate: 24.25 Mbps
The Eagle is going to be one of those films which will fit nicely between a few other Roman-centered stories. And by this I mean, it will situate itself between some films that are wonderful...and some that are not.
Having a rather impressive image quality, a controversial take on the disappearance of thousands of Roman soldiers, and a respectable performance by Channing Tatum, The Eagle (Unrated) (Blu-Ray) receives a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
As said before, if you're interested in looking further into this Mystery Of The Ninth, please do check out Rosemary Sutcliff's book, The Eagle Of The Ninth. It's an interesting take on what happened, and while it may not be the definitive answer, it's certainly informative and entertaining of the culture at the time.
From: Focus Features
Codec / Resolution: MPEG-4 AVC / 1080p
Theatrical Release: April 1, 2011
Country Of Release: USA
This Release: June 21, 2011
Region: Region A/1
Country Of Release: USA
MPAA Rating: PG-13 / Unrated
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 114 mins
Actual Running Time: 1:54:10
Number Of Discs: 1 (BD-25 / DVD Hybrid)
Digital Copy: Available
Current Price (USA): Check Price
Channing Tatum as Marcus Flavius Aquila
Jamie Bell as Esca
István Göz as Cohort Centurion
Bence Gerö as Celt Boy / Young Marcus
Denis O'Hare as Lutorius
Paul Ritter as Galba
Zsolt László as Paulus
Julian Lewis Jones as Cassius
Douglas Henshall as Cradoc
Donald Sutherland as Uncle Aquila
The Eagle (Unrated)
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