What have I done to be forsaken? First The Heartbreak Kid, and now this? The Last Legion is a Colin Firth Gladiator wannabe that lacks just about everything that would make you want to watch such a movie.
The Last Legion has a fair amount of action and is about the story of Excalibur, the sword that was eventually pulled from the stone to crown young Arthur as king, but director Doug Lefler, unfortunately, had no idea what he was doing. Lefler, whose claim to fame is a few episodes of "Hercules" and "Xena: Warrior Princess", clearly has no right to be directing a feature length movie made for theaters. The movie feels like a slightly larger budget version of "Xena", and that's not a good thing. The movie is cheesy and at times goofy, and all around just painful.
The movie stars Thomas Sangster as young Romulus Augustus, who, shortly after being anointed Caesar, finds Rome sacked, his parents murdered and himself held captive at the mercy of rebels who want to rule the Empire themselves. After being saved by Aurelius (Firth), he and a small group of Roman soldiers head north into Britannia to help protect the dynasty and ward off an evil tyrant who wants the throne for himself. Let's not forget that a mystical wizard named Ambrosinus, also known as Merlin, tags along in the form of Ben Kingsley.
Sir Kingsley, Sir Kingsley, what are we to do with you? The poor man must be in major debt. Whether he's starring in Uwe Boll films or garbage like this, one really has to wonder what this Oscar-winner is thinking. Perhaps The Last Legion looked good on paper, or maybe the movie was merely pitched to him as an epic tale of how Excalibur came to be, but I really can't give Kingsley the benefit of the doubt. He has appeared in too many lame movies to count, and it's likely that no one will ever know the true reason why he embarrasses himself like this.
Of course, Firth once again proves that if the movie isn't based on a Jane Austen novel, it's probably going to suck. I don't know who thought Mr. Darcy would make a good Roman commander, but it just doesn't work. And it's a shame that beautiful Aishwarya Rai, in one of her first English-speaking roles, is delegated to a thankless and cheesy romantic interest character. She gets to kick ass a few times, but come on! In reality, how many Indian women were running around and sword fighting in Great Britain at the time?
The casting is dreadful, but so is the rest of the movie. The Last Legion has a few cringe-inducing one liners and other goofy moments that make you wonder how seriously the crew was really taking the film. The action looks clunky and it is clear that Lefler doesn't know how to make proper action sequences in the 21st century.
To cap things off, the ending is just terrible. After the final battle is won, the little Emperor chucks his sword Excalibur and it somehow embeds in a rock. Then, Lefler has the camera circle around the sword as the seasons pass with video game quality special effects until we are introduced to young Arthur and Merlin. Just when you think things couldn't get any cheesier, Lefler surprises us yet again.
The Last Legion has a few entertaining parts, but the movie is so disorganized and messy it's hard to take anything about it seriously.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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