Sunday, April 17, 2016

To the last breath.

The obvious choice is Gladiator. Always has been, likely always will be. And before that, at least chronologically anyway, Zack Snyder's 300. But while I'm able to teach about the greatest ancient civilizations, I'm very much unable to show the correlating (and ADHD-proof) big-budgeted Hollywood films that illustrate these cultures so well. It's not the historical inaccuracies to blame, either (in the films, silly, teaching, for example). Actually, it's the stuff that (probably) really happened that's the real problem.

Chiefly, the violence. And the sex.

If only there was a movie so absurdly watered down it would be borderline offensive in its inoffensiveness.
If only...

I'm not sure if this is fan-made or not.
(applies to both movie and poster, oddly enough)
Not only written and directed for sixth graders, The Last Legion might also have been written and directed by sixth graders. Set during the fall of Rome in 460 A.D., director Doug Lefler's 2007 flick approaches history with the subtlety of a note that says 'Do you like me? [circle yes or no]

And that's what makes it so friggin' awesome.

Seemingly minutes after being crowned Emperor of Rome, young Romulus Augustus (the kid from The Maze Runner, apparently, if I could decipher the shrieks), last of the Caesar bloodline, sees his parents butchered before him. Aww. And in the ensuing chaos, the kid is chased down and captured by a goon of Odoacer (a brilliantly over-the-top Peter Mullan), leader of the Goths. The Goths have taken Rome after being slighted by the previous regime...uh, earlier that afternoon. 

Clearly, this whole mystery of 'Where in the World is Romulus Augustus Gloop?' must be solved, and it's up to Colin Firth's Aurelius, the leader of what's left of the Imperial Guard handle it. And he does. About seven minutes later.

From there, it's a bewilderingly goofball romp from one sweaty (and completely bloodless) sword-fight to the next. Good guys will be saved last minute, and bad guys will die after the first blow (yes, a half-hearted elbow to the back is totally fatal). And Mr. Brown, who's somewhere between good and bad, well, that ol' bastard will be smiling the whole way through, regardless.

This poor chick, despite the abundance of swords and arrows, can't find a shirt to protect her exposed, um, heart.
Also pretty happy, are the Yays and Boos. We totally bought this film on Amazon (blindly, no less) for less than three bucks, and due to state testing making all of my classes much shorter, have gotten four days out of it. I'm not a math teacher, but when the bucks-to-days ratio is nearly even? That's pretty historical.

Shine your sword, guv'na?
  • Somehow, Ben Kingsley is in this. He plays a schoolteacher-ninja-magician guy, and, um, is pretty awesome. 
  • As I said, Peter Mullan consistently loses his shit and essentially shouts every one of his lines (in his thick Scottish accent, no less). I swear I heard him say Get. In. My. Bellyyyyyy, but I might have imagined it. Possibly.
  • Speaking of Odoacer-related awesomeness, there's a point where his answer to defiance by his right-hand man, is to cut off one of the dude's fingers. That'll inspire loyalty, I'm sure of it.
  • Wholly unnecessary CGI aqueducts? Yes, please.
  • Waking up dead. You know what happens when you fall asleep guarding someone being hanged over a thousand foot cliff? Well, I'll let you guess what that guy gets thrown off of.
  • Playing the part of deadly assassin, uh, Mira, is a lovely actress by the name of Aishwarywa Rai Bachchan. While it appears she has no problem kicking ass, she also apparently has no problem taking the worst role in the history of film. When she's not overly sweaty for no reason, she's forced into fight-scene after fight-scene. Fighting style? Cleavage. Weapon of choice? 5th Century Push-up bra. But...yes. Still a Yay.
  • If I ever fall into the Mediterranean Sea whilst holding a sword, I totally know how I'm going to emerge from the water: sword first. [this is so rad]
  • Poor Vatrenis. This guy protects the young Emperor by taking six gigantic metal spears into one average-sized human chest.
  • We have an epic journey to Britannia. Cue the ancient map. And different scenes of harsh climates (none of which the actors actually appear in!)
  • The unintentional comedy of a shouted line like The man is mine! is only bested by a romantic sword-fight where someone utters, sexily, So, where am I open? (gross?)
  • No lie, the best speech in this movie isn't given by Firth on his way into a losing battle, no. It's actually some random dude saying, Screw this fight. Let them kill this punk kid. Seriously, it's so great...
  • Kingsley's character: Burn. In. Hell! [kicks guy into fire] Mr. Brown's class: [uproarious applause]
  • And finally, overheard during the showing of The Last Legion:
    • Mr. Brown. This is a good movie.
    • Mr. Brown! This movie is sooo fake.
    • I'm going to buy this movie when I get home.

  • Hey kid, you're the next Emperor of Rome! But in five years, we've had five Emperors. And they've all been murdered. Well, yeah...but you get this sweet crown, son!
  • Oooh, your dad just took an axe to the back. Well, at least you've still got your M--. Oh, never mind. Spear to the stomach. Bummer.
  • Firth gets knocked to the ground after taking an axe to the back, himself. It doesn't cut him, not even his clothes, does make him fall asleep. Under a bunch of dead guys. Hmm.
  • Mira kicks the asses of like, nineteen dudes, all while the good guys lean on their, um, spears. Anyway, in the next scene, they all sort of ride back to base triumphantly, right? Every guy on a majestic horse. Mira? She has her arms around Firth's Aurelius, like she's afraid she might fall off and scrape her knee. The Hell is this?
  • That ugly bastard up there? That's the ginger dude from ER. Or Gray's Anatomy. Or, some show, where he's a a red-headed doctor. Or patient. Look...I don't really know what's going on anymore, honestly.
  • Young Romulus? Kid takes a three-story fall after playing with the eyes/nipples of a magic painting. And gets right up. But later, when Mira is hanging around with her boobs out? This little bastard snuggles up to her...because he's cold. Oh, f--k off, your Majesty.
  • The second bad guy, the Final Boss, is this old guy Vortgyn. And judging by his creepy mask, he's totally on his way to, or coming from the Eyes Wide Shut party. *shudder*
  • Mira, looking sexy, says this: Would you bury you sword for this? And I can't laugh out loud, or all heads will turn and I'll have to explain myself. Dammit.
  • Welp, the Ninth Legion turns out to be the last hope that Rome has in defeating the Goths. It's a shame they're utterly pissed off that Aurelius brought this little wanker, er, Beloved Emperor, to their doorstep. Essentially dooming everyone. Yeah, thanks for that. Dick.
  • Oh, by the way, this is an origin story, too (this enraged three kids that actually read in their spare time, and endlessly bewildered the rest of the room). Yep.
  • And finally, let me Boo the fact that every single ancient civilization out there doesn't have the most family-friendly/laughably horrible film to go with it, like ancient Rome had. All this year, I've had to supplement our moderately-lame textbook with cool documentaries some random jerk/my unequivocal hero posted on YouTube. Imagine the possibilities!
Though it somewhat goes with what we've been talking about in class, The Last Legion takes place about four-hundred years after where we're currently studying. Oh, well. In a week mired down with standardized testing, a little jump ahead in the past can totally be forgiven.

Now if only we could skip ahead in the present. Maybe to say....June 9th? Or the 10th, even.

It doesn't have to be spot-on to enjoy. Close enough will certainly do.


  1. Dude, this is one of the funniest posts I've ever read, and I can't believe how much you've made me want to watch this movie!!
    - Allie

    1. Hahaha. Thanks, Allie. While I fully support anybody watching anything, this movie pretty much sucks in every way a movie possible could. That said, I totally enjoyed it. But being in a room of obnoxious twelve-year-olds?

      Hell, that might have had something to do with it.

  2. What a hilarious review. You have totally made me want to see this even though I've never heard of it. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I have "accidentally" come across hundreds of Aishwarya Rai pics online. I swear.

    1. Thanks, Dell. I hadn't heard of it either, but I was getting pretty desperate to not have to stand up there and attempt to address them (ie, teach) after a two hour exam, so I dug deep.

      Man, I didn't know who this chick was prior to this film, but, um, yeah. Super hot. Rowr.

  3. I've never of this, but I'm still retroactively jealous I never had you as a teacher when I was a kid. lol Great review!

    1. I don't even know why it was made (the cast is pretty good), but I have thanked some higher being that it was. The kids who are capable of anything other than sarcastic hate, actually kind of liked it. Total win for Mr. Brown.

      And your comment made me feel equal parts happy...and incredibly, incredibly old. But depending on the day, that's pretty much par for the course. Thanks!


    Firth was in this? No, Colin.


    1. Trust me, I've done much, much worse to kids. Cinematically speaking, of course. And now, I'm asking them to write a seven-paragraph review. I'd say about 90% of them are highly favorable...with a lot of the girls drooling over...the little kid (apparently he grows up to be in the Maze Runner?).

      Bad Colin! How dare you urinate all over history!

      But...I got almost a week of shortened classes out of, piss away my friend.