regann: (Marcus & Esca [The Eagle])
If you like historical films set during the Roman Empire, bromance, and/or just need a new fandom to read in, you should watch The Eagle. It stars Channing Tatum and Jaime Bell as a bromantic duo who just happen to be a forcibly-retired centurion and his defiant Celtic slave in 2nd century Roman Britain.

Marcus, our centurion, served with great distinction in the Roman army for a short time before he received a permanently disabling injury to his leg. In his infirmary, he goes to stay with his uncle Aquila (Donald Sutherland). During his recovery, they happen to attend a gladiator game where Esca, our slave, has been thrown into the game against a seasoned fighter. Instead of fighting, he bravely faces down death at the gladiator's hand. Marcus is so moved by Esca's honor and bravery that he ends up saving his life. Uncle Aquila decides to purchase Esca to be Marcus's body slave.

Esca is still resentful, defiant and rightfully hates all Romans, but he pledges his fealty to Marcus because the Roman saved his life in the arena. Then some stuff happens dealing with Marcus's injury and life moves on until some Romans show up to mock Marcus's dad who was the leader of the Legion of the Ninth, a Roman corps that marched into Caledonia and was never seen again. Rumor has it that the Eagle from the legion is in the hands of a northern Celtic tribe, so Marcus decides to get his family's honor back by going after it. The only backup he plans to take with him is Esca.

Understandably, Uncle Aquila thinks this is a Bad Idea because once he's above the wall there's nothing to stop Esca from killing (or worse) his lame Roman master, but Marcus trusts Esca, so onward they go.

If I tell you that when they meet up with a Celtic tribe that welcomes Esca, he turns on Marcus and takes the Roman as his slave, would you be surprised? Good, because that's what happens and that's when shit gets good.

So, this movie: it's shot gorgeously, a lot of it on location in Scotland; Jaime Bell is really great as Esca, and Channing Tatum is way more amazing than I expected him to be given what I've seen (and forgotten) of his work before. Marcus the character walks a thin line between supreme badassery and deep vulnerability that's physically manifested in his disability but is emotional as well and Tatum nails it. The movie moves a little slowly in the beginning but it picks up nicely as it rolls on and by the time shit gets good, you're hooked.

AND THIS FANDOM. The fandom for this film is what really made me decide to write this post. It's pretty small, but it has produced amazing fics. And even if you can't be bothered to watch the film, this fandom has produced an amazing range of AUs that translate the characters into other, more modern settings, many of which can be read without prior knowledge of the film, although knowing the film gives you greater respect and insight for some of the choices they make.

Since there's nothing I hate more than amazing fics without enough reviews, here's a few I like:

+ The Lonely End of the Rink. 100,000+ words of amazing-ness. Marcus and Esca are teenagers in modern Canada. One's a closeted hockey player (that would be Marcus) who struggles with his feelings for out figure skater Esca, navigating the perilous situation of being a gay jock. That's the jist, but the story is way better than I'm making it out to be. Uncle Aquila is awesome in it, too.

+ Fighter. Marcus as an undercover cop who saves Esca who has been enslaved in an underground cage-fighting ring; Marcus has to balance his desire to help him with the need to not blow his cover or get himself killed in the process.

+ never meant you harm (Jumperverse). A fusion with the movie Jumper, but I've never seen it and followed the story fine. Marcus is a special ops soldier who ends up going up against people born with the ability to transport ("jump") only to find out that his childhood friend/love, Esca, is the most dangerous of them all. There are two stories so far in this universe, and I think there are more to come!

This fandom also has some amazing canonical fics, too, so I do recommend you watch the film if it suits your taste. It's a little gem of a fandom and it only takes a rental and few hours of your life to appreciate it. GO FORTH, I SAY.


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February 2014

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