Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Last Legion
Many times, when a creative work is predictable on more than one level, I step away from the experience disappointed or even irritated. Just from watching the previews of The Invention of Lying I'm pretty sure what's going to happen at the end; and I have no desire to watch the film makers connect the dots. But The Last Legion kept me glued to the seat. I mean, I needed to get up and relieve myself, take some dishes to the kitchen and accomplish some quick bedtime chores--and I could have paused the DVR to do so--but I wouldn't pull myself away from the story on screen.
But don't take this as a glowing endorsement. My enthrallment had more to do with the subject matter than any aspect of production.
From the introduction of the young Caesar and his elderly mentor, the mention of a certain object and a certain island, I knew what the end of this movie was gonna be. In fact, if the ending had not accomplished what I expected, I would have been very disappointed. (Ooh, I just watched the trailer and it TOTALLY BLOWS the ending. If you haven't seen it and don't like spoilers, don't watch the preview for this flick. Same person who made the T2 [Terminator 2] trailer must have done this one.)
Prepubescent Romulus Augustus is crowned Caesar as Rome is falling to the Goths. A Roman general, Aurelius, is assigned to protect the young emporer. That means rescuing him from captivity at an island fortress, and spiriting him away to find protection with the 9th Roman Legion--the last known surviving Roman garrison. Accompanying them are Aurelius's faithful soldiers; the aforementioned mentor, Amrosinus; and the obligatory amazon superninja.
This last character was kept gender-masked while demonstrating her combat prowess, licking 50+ times her weight in savage berserking Goths, until an outdoor bathing scene that I suppose was intended to surprise and tittilate all at once. Yawn. I didn't see this coming from a mile away. More like four miles. I did wind up liking this character, despite myself. I credit that all to the actress, who wasn't given much to work with. Throw a rock in southern California and you'll hit an attractive enjenoue; but there's something endearing about this woman's performance, confined though it was.
She wasn't the only one with a part lacking potential. Aurelius might as well have been a cardboard cutout, for all the personality he was written with. Mira and Aurelius hook up eventually, to nobody's surprise, though it's impossible to see what quality Mira found so irresistable in him. Besides him being the leading man, that is.
Anyhoo, you're not going to find any element of film making better than average in this flick, but if you have an interest in European history, legend and lore, you might still enjoy it. I did. Not a bad way to waste a rainy afternoon.