THE LAST LEGION (Doug Lefler). 110 minutes. Opens Friday (August 17). Rating: NN
The Last Legion serves up sword-swinging fun with true-hearted Roman soldier Aurelius and his wee band racing off to England to bring back the Ninth Legion and retake Rome, which has fallen to Goth invaders. They've got a boy Caesar, Romulus, in tow, and he has a wise old man and the fabled sword Excalibur. So we know we're heading into Arthurian legend territory.
All of this only vaguely relates to history and myth as we know them, but so what? People have been riffing on this material for centuries. What counts is a good story. This one's rich in battles, escapes, betrayals and feats of derring-do.
Trouble is, it lacks both the manic intensity of 300 and the wealth of heavily researched detail that might persuade us we're watching the birth of a myth.
Ben Kingsley does a good take on the wise old mystic and plays well with Thomas Sangster , a convincing boy Caesar. Beautiful Aishwarya Rai pumps out high ferocity as the India-born martial arts babe and love interest. Best of all is Kevin McKidd 's Goth baddie, Wulfila. He's got the pure bloodlust of a Frank Frazetta painting. Beside him, Colin Firth 's hero, Aurelius, looks too soft and civilized to last a minute.
Director Doug Lefler , who's tackled this genre before in Hercules and Xena episodes, sets a lively pace, but the action is underwhelming and there's nothing special in terms of staging and visuals.