Movie Reviews

Channing Tatum's Poorly-Reviewed Historical Movie Gets Near Perfect Accuracy Score From Expert


  • Historian Michael Taylor praises
    The Eagle
    ‘s accurate battle scene depiction and formations.
  • The movie received poor reviews upon release due to its direction and Channing Tatum’s performance.
  • Some positive aspects include well-executed battle scenes and limited use of CGI.

Channing Tatum’s 2011 epic The Eagle, which received poor reviews upon release, receives a near-perfect score from a historian. Directed by Scottish filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, the historical drama, which was set in 140 AD, followed the chief protagonist Marcus Aquila, a young Roman officer who ventures into ancient Britain in hopes of recovering the lost Roman Ninth Legion’s golden emblem. Tatum played Marcus Aquila, and he was joined by other such names as Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, and Tahar Rahim.

In a recent video by Insider, historian Michael Taylor analyzes one of the battle scenes in The Eagle, pointing out how accurate a lot of depictions are. The historian breaks down a distinctive formation that Channing Tatum’s Marcus and his soldiers form in this battle scene, noting that it’s very real while also praising a particular sequence where a chariot is taken out. Read his full comments below:

So we do hear of a formation that we use when you are, unfortunately, like these Romans, surrounded by enemies and it is called an orbus. Basically, a circle as a formation if you need to form a perimeter on all sides. So whether or not it looked exactly like that, obviously we can’t say, but that is actually a real formation.

When we hear of chariots being taken out, the advice is send someone with a missile weapon, an archer or a slinger or, in this instance, a guy with a pilum and kill the driver, that disables the chariot. That’s probably one reason why chariots do go away. You kill one guy and the whole system is broken, whereas with the calvary men, you might kill one cavalryman, but there’s others on horses. Overall, this clip is really good, I’m tempted to give it a nine.

Why Was The Eagle Poorly Received Upon Release?

Upon release in 2011, The Eagle struggled to excel at the box office, grossing just over $8 million in its opening weekend and ultimately grossing $38 million against its $25 million budget. Critically, the movie was not much of a success either, receiving mostly poor reviews from different outlets and even from audiences. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Eagle holds an approval rating of 39% and an equally poor audience score of 41%.

While there were a number of issues that the majority of The Eagle reviews raised with the movie, two of the most prominent issues looked to be with Macdonald’s directing and Tatum’s uninspired performance. While Macdonald has previously received praise for his older works, and even once received an Academy Award for his Olympics-focused 1999 documentary One Day In September, his work on The Eagle was largely tagged placid and unimaginative, similar to Tatum’s performance in the movie.


The True Story Of The Eagle’s Ninth Legion & How Much Of The Movie Is Real

Channing Tatum’s 2011 film about the Roman Legion, The Eagle, was based on a book, but not everything about it is historically accurate.

Even though The Eagle received mostly negative reviews post release, a few critics praised the movie’s battle scenes and sequences, just like Taylor above, noting that they evoke traditional sword-and-shield movies. The movie’s limited use of CGI also received some praise, among the mostly negative reviews. Overall, while the movie might have a few downfalls, it’s hugely commendable that it manages to accurately depict battle scenes and formations from several years ago.

Source: Insider

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