Monday, August 20, 2007

Last Legion suffers from Weak Lead and Weak Director

Well, I saw The Last Legion on Saturday afternoon and must admit, even though I wasn't expecting a lot, it was still a bit of a disappointment. It was supposedly based on Manfredi's book but the screenwriter used only the beginning and the end and skipped all of the hair raising journey across Gaul and narrow escapes from Wulfila. Kevin McKidd's screen intensity as Wulfila outshone almost everyone else and instead of capitalizing on it, the director chose to limit his screen time and spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the PG-13 adolescent fencing between Aurelius and the woman warrior, Mira.

I'm afraid I also found Colin Firth less than charismatic and his performance rather lackluster. There was no sense of comradeship with little band of men and not enough screen development of each member of the group to generate pathos when one of them died.

The young man that played Romulus Augustulus, Thomas Sangster, was good and those piercing eyes should serve him well if he should make acting a long term career choice. I see he already has quite a start on an impressive filmography even at his young age.

Although a little low key at times, Ben Kingsley did a good job as Ambrosinus/Merlin and could join the ranks of Liam Neeson and Ian McKellen as a believable "wise mentor" figure. Indian actress Aishwarya Rai was beautiful and quite physically energetic despite the confines of a PG-13 script. It's just too bad she didn't have someone to play opposite that could engender more screen chemistry.

I'm disappointed that Alexander Siddig, another fine actor as evidenced by his turn in Syriana, was given practically a cameo role as the Byzantine ambassador who was quickly dispatched after revealing that the emperor of the East had chosen to recognize Odoacer rather than give refuge to the boy Romulus. And, John Hannah was totally miscast as complicit Senator Nestor. In fact, a friend of mine said she wondered if his death scene was supposed to be humorous!

As for director, Doug Lefler, he'd better not give up his day job as a storyboard artist.