Set long, long ago in a distant land the screen says "Rome, 460 A.D.," but my guess is sometime between the soup course and the entrée at Medieval Times this pervasively second-rate sword-and-sorcery saga is moldy cheddar from handle to sandal. The ingredients are here for ripest Europudding: Colin Firth as a rugged Roman commander protecting the boy emperor Romulus (Thomas Sangster); Ben Kingsley, never quite surrendering his dignity as a crafty magician; Peter Mullen as a hotheaded Yosemite Sam of a Germanic conqueror, Scottish burr and all. And thats before the mysterious chain-mailed Byzantine swashbuckler turns out to be Aishwarya Rai, emerging from the surf in all her wet-sari glory. But even though director Doug Lefler is a Xena and Hercules veteran and the script calls for beefy heroics as square as Bruce Campbells jaw, the movie has neither the light touch nor the visionary intensity that would energize the florid retro melodrama exemplified by such sub-Senecan nuggets as "If I see you again in Rome, it will be at the point of my sword." Worse, the action in Leflers clumsy action sequences is as camera-shy as Bigfoot: His axes-and-elbows fights are a spilled suitcase of just-missed-it shots, taken at the precise instant something exciting escapes the frame. A.D., in this case, must stand for "ass dragging."
Doug LeflerColin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai, Thomas Sangster, Peter Mullan, John Hannah, James Cosmo, Alexander Siddig, Rupert Friend, Iain GlenPeter Rader, Carlo Carlei, Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth, Valerio ManfrediDino De Laurentiis, Martha De LaurentiisThe Weinstein Company