I hadn’t heard much about The Last Legion. But what I had heard was that it wasn’t particularly good — it doesn’t follow any true historical events and the action was rather inactive. Now, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a history major (I’ll leave that to my brother), so the possibility of that ruining my experience is nil. The battle sequences and sword fighting, on the other hand, is most definitely a deal breaker. I simply had to find out if the movie is that bad and here is what I discovered . . .
They were right. The two previously mentioned facets are glaring but there are several others that could have been called out as well. Let’s walk through them, shall we?
- Weak, unoriginal plot. You’ll see what I mean at the end of the plot description. The Last Legion takes place during the decline of the Roman empire. For Rome to rise to power again, the latest Caesar, Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster) must hope to find the sword that gives great power to the rightful wielder of it. To aid him he has Aurelius (Colin Firth) is the captain of the guards, his spiritual aide Ambrosinus (Ben Kingsley) and Mira (Aishwarya Rai) an Indian warrioress. Together they journey to gather the forces of the 9th Legion stationed in an outward post in Britannia to reclaim Rome and reunite her peoples. If you said this sounds a bit like the Arthurian legend with a Roman theme, you’d be right! And unless you watch the entire movie, you won’t know how right you are!
- Poor acting. Each and every person behaves like a statue. There is absolutely no emotional range from any of the characters. The delivery is barely worthy of a poorly cast porno flick. Ben Kingsley has undoubtedly been better (see “House of Sand and Fog” and “Gandhi”). Colin Firth has done marginally better things (see “Bridget Jones’s Diary”). Aishwarya Rai gives it her best college try, but ends up trying too hard. If she wants to successfully break away from Bollywood, she’ll need to show more skin.
- Atrocious battle scenes. I’ve seen some poorly choreographed fight scenes in my day, but The Last Legion gives some of them a tight race. There’s nothing like watching one fighter duck well before the other combatant swings his weapon. And if I see anymore of those moments where fighters have the time to hug or lovingly gaze at one another’s eyes across a chaotic battlefield, I’m going to scream. There’s a lot of them in here.
Yet, even though there isn’t much going for The Last Legion, it was still rather pleasing to watch. It’s campy. It’s cheesy. It’s all rather endearing if you don’t take the movie very seriously. So for those of you who want to see a lighthearted movie that’s not full of gore, intense violence or much of anything else, The Last Legion is for you. For those of you who want something more, I strongly suggest “Excalibur.”