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The Eagle (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373697

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109941&d=1210373697

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 & Unrated Version
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Genre: Adventure/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Music by: Atli Örvarsson
Written by: Jeremy Brock (screenplay), Rosemary Sutcliff (novel)
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 21, 2011

"No Roman can survive north of the wall alone."

Film Synopsis:

In 2nd-Century Britain, A celebrated Roman soldier embarks on a dangerous quest to restore the tarnished reputation of his father and find the golden emblem that disappeared with him and thousands of troops twenty years earlier.

My Take:

'The Eagle' is based on the book "The Eagle of the Ninth" written by Rosemary Sutcliff, published a half a century ago. It was one of Director Kevin Macdonald's (The Last King of Scotland) favorite stories and a film he has longed to make. The story is about Centurion Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) who is motived through the ranks of The Roman military by a personal crusade to clear his family's name. His father was in command of five thousand Legionnaires who disappeared in England 20 years ago. Marcus embarks on a journey to unfriendly territories with a slave/friend named Esca (Jamie Bell) to retrieve the lost legion's golden standard, the Eagle of the Ninth. The unlikely pair find themselves in hostile territory, dealing with rouge tribes out for blood as they try to gather clues about the Legion's disappearance and the the eagles whereabouts.

Though never feeling as grand in scale as epics such as Gladiator, Director Kevin Macdonald keeps things simple, focusing on our two leads, their relationship, and how they handle aversion as they journey deeper into forbidden territory. The cinematography was, at times, breathtaking, and the films pacing and directing were top notch. I could feel MacDonald's passion for the subject, but some bad delivery by Donald Sutherland (he was as bad in 2011s The Mechanic as well) and Channing Tatum hurt the film. I am not a believer in needing a name brand leading man, but the wooded Channing Tatum had absolutely no charisma or pull, other than six-pack abs that made my wife happy, but were not enough to let me forgive and forget. Thankfully the story's second fiddle, Esca was played quite will by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot). His performance saved the film and had me caring about him more than the lead.

'The Eagle' deals with the same legend of lost legionnaires that we follow in this years "Centurion", and I must say, other than not feeling Channing Tatum can carry a film on his shoulders, I did enjoy this better. If you are a fan of films dealing with the roman empire you will find this smaller scale story refreshing, though not as fulfilling as grander titles in its genre.

Parental Guide:

Rated PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 90

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373694

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373698

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373697

Video: 82

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373697

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373698

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373698

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=121037369
'The Eagle' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32.2 mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.

Universal delivers a superb new Blu-ray release with 'The Eagle'. I found the image to be quite enjoyable, where the direction and cinematography were more concerned with mood and beauty than anything else. They succeeded and what we get is a rich presentation that is warm in hue and natural in lighting. Black levels were quite strong, exhibiting some minor crush at rare and random times. Fine details did waiver due to the artistic choices, but never does the presented image look soft or undefined. This is a very enjoyable and filmic transfer. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was impressive, closing in on reference quality. It handled everything with ease, from bombastic battles with room shaking LFE to defined sibilance in quiet scenes of dialogue. The surround channels were full of life, sucking the viewer into the journey. I could not find a fault in this track and recommend giving it a spin.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Macdonald

  • (HD) The Eagle: The Making of a Roman Epic

  • (HD) Deleted Scenes

  • (HD) Alternate Ending

  • BD Live enabled

Final Thoughts:

If you are a fan of films dealing with the roman empire you will find this smaller scale story refreshing, though not as fulfilling as grander titles in its genre. Universal's transfer looks and sounds great, and was fun to crank on my system. The special features are short and of no real interest and Kevin Macdonald audio commentary is super stiff, but technically interesting. 'The Eagle' has some gorgeous cinematography, an interesting story and these positives can, at times, out weigh some uninspired acting. Give it rental, it's worth a watch.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-X3 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Marantz AV7005 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Cinema Five 200 Amplifier
Sony PS3 Slim Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sunfire Cinema Ribbon Trio On-Wall (5.1)
Sunfire True Subwoofer EQ Solitaire 10"
post #2 of 25
Ugh Tatum has to be one of the worst actors. He is movie poison to me. You called it Lee...wooden.
post #3 of 25
"The Eagle" is a character driven Roman Epic that looks great on Blu-Ray. It covers the same (Ninth Legion) ground as Neil ("Descent") Marshall's "Centurion" and even uses some of the same Scottish locations. I had low expectations of Channing Tatum, but found him better in the role than Lee did. It was nice to see Jamie Bell a decade after "Billy Elliot." I thought he had vanished like the Ninth Legion.

"Centurion" is faster moving, though not as deep and follows the plot of "The Most Dangerous Game" with lovely and savage Olga Kurylenko as the pursuing Picts leader. Michael Fassbender is a better actor than Channing Tatum and it would have been nice to see them switch leads. "The Eagle" would have been even better and "Centurion" just as good. The Ninth Legion has had a pretty good year in the movies and both Blu-Rays are great fun to watch.
post #4 of 25
I pretty much have to agree 100% with Lee's review. I thought the film was ok at best. Not sure if the story could be better than what it was considering the smaller scale story as Lee mentioned.
post #5 of 25

Thanks Lee.

post #6 of 25
Tatum is a terrible actor.
post #7 of 25
I saw the Centurion on Saturday and can't wait to see how this ties in. However, Tatum is an absolutely terrible actor.

Was vacationing at the film locations about 6 weeks ago. Looking forward to seeing them again on film.
post #8 of 25
Thanks Lee - This is one that I will be renting....
post #9 of 25
I thought the film was terrific actually.

Tatum was also just fine in this movie -- methinks most of the people railing on that he's an awful actor haven't actually SEEN this film. He's serviceable and believable in this role anyway.
post #10 of 25
This one's in my que. I did enjoy Centurion. Thought Fassbender did a bangup job.
post #11 of 25
I own Centurion, and it is one of my favourite in this genre. I will be purchasing this as well. It should be a good comparison. Micheal Fassbender is a much better lead though. Tatum will have some big shoes to fill IMHO.
post #12 of 25
Great review Lee, I'll rent this one..Love these type of movies.

post #13 of 25

Having watched this I would have to say that Centurion is the stronger film. This one lacks its narrative depth and stronger leading role but I agree that Tatum did just fine.

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post


Having watched this I would have to say that Centurion is the stronger film. This one lacks its narrative depth and stronger leading role but I agree that Tatum did just fine.


You just like his abs!
post #15 of 25
Originally Posted by Lee Weber View Post

You just like his abs!



post #16 of 25
Watched this movie last night. I haven't seen Channing Tatum in anything else so I can't comment on his overall acting ability, but I thought his delivery in this picture was appropriate for the character he was playing - a stoic army officer trying to clear his family's name. Compared to Keanu Reaves Tatum is Lawrence Olivier and Tom Hanks combined.

Overall my wife and I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to others.
post #17 of 25
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post


Having watched this I would have to say that Centurion is the stronger film. This one lacks its narrative depth and stronger leading role but I agree that Tatum did just fine.


I haven't seen The Eagle yet, but Centurion is now one of my favourite swords and sandals films. I will be purchasing this BD title as well, as the subject/myths of the Ninth is an interesting one, even if historians are now predicting their demise occurred somwhere other than current day Scotland.
post #18 of 25
Pretty bad movie. Felt like I was watching a Gladiator rip-off flick a few times throughout the movie.
post #19 of 25
Never in my live i was so hurt watching a movie, not until I watch this movie. While the video and audio is ok, the story is so stupid and retarded that it really was a painful experience.
post #20 of 25
I thought The Eagle was a decent movie but I liked Centurion a lot more.

post #21 of 25
thought this was a decent movie, has a replay value imo...
post #22 of 25
Watched it the other night. The storyline is good, but it was let down by the cast. Tatum was miscast for this role IMO, as was Donald Sutherland(a great actor...but wrong for this film). I agree with others that Centurion is head and shoulders above this film. Micheal Fassbender is a much stronger actor, and better suited for this type of role, as was the supporting cast in Centurion. I purchased The Eagle on sale so I will be keeping it, but it doesn't have the replay value of Centurion.
post #23 of 25
This movie actually could have been good if it had a better cast and was extended another 20-30mins with some more character development/backstory.

As it is, however, it just comes off kind of cliche with some really, really weak acting from Tatum. Jamie Bell was decent but that's as far as I'll go with that.

The audio was surprisingly quite good with some really nice use of LFE to support the big drums in the soundtrack. It's not an action heavy mix or film, but the ambience and life in the surrounds thoughout was well done and believable. The video was one of the weaker transfers I've seen all year. Inconsistent black levels wash out the image and obscure details. Some of the wider shots of the scenery are decent but overall this was a missed opportunity in terms of the video transfer.

I don't understand why there is a lot of positive feedback about Centurion lately (albeit usually only when comparing to truly bad movies). I found that film no better than this one and it also left a lot to be desired.
post #24 of 25
We enjoyed this and definately worth a rental. I enjoyed the intitial fight scenes and thought Chaning did a very good job with that. The middle scenes somewhat reminded me of Apocalypto and seemed to drag on but ended pretty well. The AV helped this movie tremendously.
post #25 of 25
I finally got around to watching this last night and thought the first act was strong, the second was a modest success but the third act and ending was straight out of Hollywood. As Lee pointed out in his review the film is based on a 1954 children's adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth that takes liberties with the history of the Ninth Legion and the discovery of the missing Eagle standard. I hate it when a movie makes you think that you are about to see something based on historic fact when it's not and even historians debate what actually took place and where. That said, I thought Tatum, Bell and Sutherland were passable in their roles and though some may think Tatum is a horrible actor I feel he is improving with each film I see him in. He handled the action scenes well and I can see him in more of these type of roles in the future. A decent rental but doubt I'd ever own it.
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