“Last Legion” doesn’t have animatronic mermaids.

Just got back from seeing Last Legion with T. Because honestly, when was the last sword-and-sandal action flick that I didn’t see? It’s summer and I’m pretty easy to lure to the theaters. Besides, I heart Aishwarya Rai very much, even if her role is mostly gratuitous eye candy.

So yeah, you know those end-of-the-summer flicks that are usually better on video than on the big screen? This was probably one of them. In fact, I’m sure that it would have been a pretty cool made-for-TV-movie. Because it certainly felt as if that was about how much of a budget they managed to procure for it. Then again, judging by the mostly European talent and crew pool, they were probably paying a lot less on the vanity salary front. I’m guessing, what, $60mill or so? Most epics that heavy on locations, costumes, teeming masses of extras and CGI should be getting at least double that. They got their money’s worth on props and locations, true, but I dare you not to wince at the plastic Viking helmets on those poor Goth extras. I’d hurl myself off a stone precipice too, buddy.

But no, really, as far as summer movie plots and writing go, it wasn’t that bad. Given, it wasn’t anything brilliant or new, but I’ve pretty much covered how I mostly go to these things for fluffy entertainment. There were some disturbing flashbacks to King Arthur (another enjoyably rompy-yet-shallow flick in the same category, though with a much better budget), but I was even willing to let that go given they were in the same genre and couldn’t help having some coincidences.

What REALLY irked me, however, was the score. This was what probably was screaming TV MOVIE! the loudest, and there is really no forgiving that. The swelling violins that almost strangled you with “THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL SCENE, DAMMIT!” and the leitmotif that would not die… it was probably supposed to signal “the Truth” and how patriotically faithful the Romans were, but really it just sounded eerily similar to the first half of “It’s a Small World”. Which brings a whole new layer of interpretation and irony, I’m sure. But when that’s repeated ad nauseam at every supposedly uplifting moment… *facepalm* Symphonic suicide, yo.

So my final tally? Aishwarya Rai: still smokin’ hot, especially with shiny weapons. CGI: could use some work, but might be believable on the small screen. Score: It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. Definitely a wait-and-rent.

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