Making the Grades
Legends of swords and stones have been the building blocks of many great stories. Following in that tradition is The Last Legion, which begins during the 5th century as young Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster) is about to be proclaimed Emperor -- and the Western Roman Empire is prepared to take its last breath.
Before the new ruler is able to warm the seat of his throne, factions wanting to take control of the Empire attack the palace, killing his parents. Because his mother is a link in the bloodline of the Caesars, Romulus is kidnapped, along with his philosophizing teacher Ambrosinus (Ben Kingsley), and taken to the secluded island prison of Capri.
Determined to free him, his right hand guard Aurelius (Colin Firth) and a faithful few travel to the island. On the way they meet a mysterious, disguised ally (Aishwarya Rai) who has been sent from the Ambassador of Copernicus. Able to fight like no other man, Aurelius and his band embrace the added help as they take down the boy's captors.
Fortunately, the imprisonment at Capri yields an important benefit to Romulus. Inadvertently discovering the sword of his family's heritage, the timid lad receives a much-needed boost of confidence. With weapon in hand, he gathers his liberators and determines to set off for far away Britannia where the Ninth Legion is supposed to exist.
The quest for the only warriors still loyal to the Caesars requires the group to trek over mountains, plains and waters, to get to the shores of Rome's northernmost outpost. And it's not long before the rag-tag group discovers another evil tyrant. Vortgyn (Harry Van Gorkum), is using the legionnaires as a bait to reel the Romulus into his grasp. The ensuing conflict makes for more battles, with countless people being bludgeoned, speared, and stabbed. Meanwhile, it seems like everyone has forgotten about what's happening in Rome as the story stumbles toward an awkward finish allowing the legendary sword Excaliburnus to meet ye old stone, and set up the legend of a Once and Future King.
Although combat sequences are intense (including a man deliberately cutting off another character's finger), most of the violence is sanitized, with the exception of a little blood shown in connection to facial injuries and soiled swords. The only other content of concern is a brief scene depicting an unmarried man and woman going to bed together.
With the mountain of medieval and King Arthur movies preceding The Last Legion, it is small wonder the film invokes a reminiscent, seen-it-before feeling. However, if you are looking for pure popcorn adventure, it just might offer the sort of fluffy entertainment you could share with teens and older children.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Last Legion.
A wise man in this film states, “Humiliation is a poor teacher for both men and boys.” Why are we tempted to use humiliation as a way of motivating someone to change or understand what they have done wrong? What methods make better teachers?
Why do you think the legend of King Arthur is so enduring? Do you think it is possible to achieve peace without fighting?
The only point of truth in this fictitious film is the existence of a Roman Emperor named Romulus Augustus. You can read more about this young ruler here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_Augustus