I didn’t expect much from The Last Legion but I like movies set during the Roman Empire and this was said to tell the pre-history of King Arthur which sounded interesting and so I watched it. I wasn’t aware that Colin Firth is in this movie. If I had realized it I wouldn’t have watched it. That could only go wrong. He is not plausible as a Roman general and the fact that he seemed to make fun of the role didn’t really help much. Pairing him with the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai made matters worse. Chemistry wise it didn’t work. And how did Ben Kingsley end up in this? That it was historically inaccurate didn’t bother me so much or let’s just say, it didn’t matter anymore.
The movie is set in 460 A.D. The last Roman emperor, a boy of 12 years, Romulus Augustus (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), has just been crowned when the Goths invade the city. He is sent to Capri with his mentor Ambrosinus (Kingsley), part druid, part warrior. They are rescued from Capri by the loyal general Aurelius (Firth) who is helped by three male and one female warrior. After realizing they have been betrayed by senator Nestor, they flee to Britannia to look for the Ninth Legion which is located so far away from Rome that it might hopefully still be loyal to the emperor.
While there is hardly anything supernatural happening with the exception of the emperor finding Excalibur, there are a lot of fighting scenes, some romance and most of all the well liked topic of a very few highly dexterous warriors against a lot of far weaker opponents.
While I’m still not sure the movie was intentionally funny, I didn’t mind watching it because it made me laugh quite often. It may very well be that with another main actor it wouldn’t have been funny but at possibly much more decent. I think this is easily Colin Firth’s worst role.
While it was based on the novel The Last Legion by Valerio Massimo Manfredi it felt as if it had been adapted from a comic.
Watch it if you like action-adventures and if you are extremely keen on movies on the Roman Empire and don’t mind historical inaccuracy. I wouldn’t rate it higher than 2/5.
It’s time once more for a little list. This time it’s a topic that I’m not only quite familiar with but also a topic that I enjoy a lot.
From a purist point of view the movies on this list are not strictly speaking war movies but I have decided a while back that there is not much fun in being a purist. The only movie on the list that I have reviewed so far is Centurion. But reviews for Rome, Gladiator and King Arthur are upcoming. King Arthur is one of my favourite movies of all time although it is not on my Top 10 War Movies list because, despite what I just said, the list is reserved for “proper” war movies. I equally like Gladiator a great deal but I wasn’t impressed with Centurion. Not at all. I haven’t seen The Last Legion but have a feeling it it is the weakest movie on this list.
Ben Hur (US 1959) directed by William Wyler, starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, Martha Scott
Spartacus (US 1960) directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton
Cleopatra (US 1963) directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, George Cole
The Fall of the Roman Empire (US 1964) directed by Anthony Mann, starring Alec Guinness, Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Christopher Plummer, Omar Sharif
Caligula (US/IT 1979) directed by Tinto Brass, starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren
Gladiator (GBR/ USA 2000) directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed (see my review)
Imperium: Augustus (GE/ITA/ FRA/ ESP/ AUT/ GBR 2003 TV) dirceted by Roger Young, starring Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling, Vittoria Belvedere, Benjamin Sadler
King Arthur (USA/UK/Ireland 2004) directed by Antoine Fuqua, starring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Til Schweiger, Ioan Gruffudd, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson,Mads Mikkelsen
Rome (US/ GBR 2005, TV series) directed by Carl Franklin, John Maybury and others, starring Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson
Empire (US 2005, TV Mini series) directed by John Gray, Kim Manners and Greg Yaitanes, starring Satiago Cabrera, Vincent Regan, James Frain and Emily Blunt
The Last Legion (US/ GBR/ FRA 2007) directed by Doug Lefler, starring Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Thomas Sangster (my review)