11 March 2013 | a-east
Many small virtues balance a major flaw
I wish that I, like reviewer Marek, had seen this at the age of 9. I would probably have been delighted by its many bursts of action, its muscular cast, its exotic locations, its handsomely-mounted look. However, while still admiring these virtues, as a grown-up I must point out the serious flaw which handicaps this movie. Call this the "divided hero" flaw. A pre-title sequence introduces us to Gordon Mitchell, a farmer whose refusal to give up his horses to the Romans condemns him to slave-labor on an aqueduct project. Then we meet Roger Browne, a Roman Tribune who seeks to treat slave-laborers in a fair and humane manner. Both these actors get star billing above the title and the script can't decide which one on which to concentrate. Is the movie about Gordon Mitchell's efforts to free himself from Roman bondage so he can return in peace to his farm? Or is the movie about Roger Browne's efforts to clear his name from false charges made by the villainous Gaius, (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), so he can hold his head high when he marries his Roman fiancée? The movie's confusion about its central purpose is never fully resolved. And then there's that annoying midget. At least there's a lot of beefcake to look at while pondering these matters, though it takes quite awhile before Mitchell and Browne bare their nipples, and Browne's big bare-chest scene, when he sword-fights Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, is, alas, dimly lit.