on 29 August 2010
Centurion is like Gladiator: bloody violence, stunning visuals and oustanding pefomances from a great cast. Instead of Russell Crowe in the lead, we have Britain's upcoming excellent talent Michael Fassbender leading a group of Roman men to saftey from the threatening Pic army that is led by Olga Kurylenko. I must admit that I was a little surprised of how this film got away with a 15 as the gory battle scenes are very brutal and some parts are not for the faint hearted. It does have some jaw-dropping scenery that makes you feel like you are right in the film. Good pefomances from Fassbender who is without doubt have a leading man staus, Kurylenko as the mute warrior and Dominic West as the kidnapped Legion man. The only problem about Centurion is that it felt rushed, especially the final battle scene which seemed a little too easy. The ending is just left to either your imangintion or could be a lack of budget issues. Though it's directed by the guy who bought us Dog Soliders and The Descent, he's done a okay job but for his next project perhaps make the charaters come to live and don't force the film to end. Recommened if you loved Gladiator and HBO TV series Rome.
on 18 May 2010
I agree with the above review - this really is very good! Is has has everything you would want from an action film, plenty of battles, one on one combat,chases,tension and not to mention the beautiful Olga kurylenko(and let me tell you she really is impressive in her action scenes,apparently she did all her own stunts). Fassbender too is an impressive talent and carries the film really well as well as the other cast members who do an equally fine job.
There is some amazing cinematography too which shows in detail the vast and rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands,to me this was as much a part of the quality of the film as the characters were.
The only downside to the film is the script which was a bit clunky and could have done with a rework. All in all this is a chase movie that delivers really gritty watchable action scenes!
I will be buying this dvd as soon as it comes out!
on 9 June 2010
The only thing I cannot understand about this film is why on earth it didn't get better publicity, marketing and a broader showing at Cinema's! I had to grub around on the internet to find somewhere, where it was showing and had to drive over twenty miles to get there, when there is a perfectly good multi-screen Odeon in the local town. Like Moon another British film, Cinema's let us down on the distribution.
The film starts with a man running/falling over a snowy mountain, hand's tied clearly trying to escape from someone who is pursuing him. It then goes to a scene of relaxing Roman soldiers drinking and fighting with each other, before, the next day, they are sent North to sort out the rebelious barbarians.
It turns out that the running man is the survivor of an attack by the Picts (Scots locals) of a remote Roman Fort which is overan and destroyed and the Centurion captured.
The 9th Legion (the drinkers and fighters) are despatched into the snowy North determined to bring the locals to heel but their plans lay in ruins when the Picts ambush their column and all but kill every soldier except for a few survivors.
What follows is a race back to the border and to safety for the Romans and a chase by the Picts who are determined to kill each and every Roman after their tribal Chief's son was killed by the invaders.
All in all this is a very underated, under sold, very well made, well acted, directed and produced film which provides one possible answer as to the fate of the 9th Legion. Where as Gladiator had all the Hollywood fluff and effects, Centurion has the down to earth grit and reality of how it would have been and is more realistic.
If you are interested in this period of time, Romans, Roman Britain, you will undoubtably enjoy this film and add it to your collection. There is lots of sword play and head lopping and a great deal of barbarity! Smashing! There maybe some continuity errors such as armour 'segmented' v 'chainmail' for the period but it's a film not a documentary!
on 5 May 2010
I loved this film. Saw it twice during the one week run it had at my local Odeon. Appears to have been a flop, despite mainly positive reviews. I can only put this down to an almost non existent marketing campaign. I didn't see one poster or one trailer for this without having to search specifically for it. By the time I had recommended it to friends who were then up for seeing it, it had stopped playing. Shame, as it is certainly worth seeing. Think 'The Warriors' but with Romans. You can see a very big 'Warriors' influence from the plot down to at least half the characters. I mean this in a positive way as The Warriors is a favourite of mine and Centurion compares very well. Great cast, David Morrissey is perhaps a little under used. Fassbender is particularly good. My favourite Neil Marshall film so far by a mile. Even if the DVD ends up being barebones, I will definetly be purchasing it.
This is an absolutely excellent historical fiction film, granted with extreme license. OK, I am a Roman history pedant and aficionado of historical novels, so I brought to this a critical eye, but also a hope that I would get enveloped in the narrative, in subtle character, in wonder at the endless varieties of human ambition. At this, it was so successful that I forgot the present with complete delight, even after 2 full viewings.
In terms of history, this is fiction based on speculation about what happened to the 9th Legion, which disappeared from the historical record without a trace - the only way to limn what happened to them is to piece together ambiguous clues, such as the inscriptions on grave stones scattered throughout the former empire. The time is that of the Emperor Hadrian, the golden age of the Roman Empire - the series of good, circumspect emperors who governed judiciously and without the insane excess that is remembered with Nero or Commodus. Rome is one of the largest stable empires the world has ever known, though it has experienced resistance in certain areas, such as the Picts in Northern Britain or the Parthians in Central Asia. To date, what actually occurred remains a complete mystery. So here is a film that concocts an explanation, and it is as plausible as an other, with plenty of fictional speculation and fantasy thrown in to build a narrative.
To be honest, the film either works for you or it doesn't. All I can say is, if you liked HBO's Rome, this is the same kind of grainy, highly textured portrait, just not in the center (Rome) but on the periphery. I believe this preference is personal and subjective, a pure matter of taste. It is extremely bloody, with realistic battle sequences that are not for the squeamish.
The plot follows a non-commissioned officer (Centurion), acted by the wonderful Michael Fassbender. Long a fighter of Picts (he knows their language), he survives an attack on an outpost and is rescued by the 9th, who are about to make war on the Picts. They are led by the incredible Dominic West (of The Wire), a charismatic general who has led his men to glory in Spain and is now establishing them in Britain; he is a gifted brute, but extremely popular with the men, from whom he rose by talent. Their scout is Olga Kurilenko (yes, a Bond girl), a mute and mysterious young Pict.
After the quick decimation of the 9th, Fassbender and a handful of survivors seek to rescue the general by duty, deep in Pict Scotland. Upon failure and an unfortunate murder, they must flee for their lives while an elite corps of Pict warriors pursue them with a blood oath of vengeance. At their head is a killer of singular talent, whose family was brutalized and executed before her eyes, then she was raped and left for dead. As described, "she is an empty vessel that can only be filled with Roman blood." When you see her, you believe it. I will not reveal what happens, only to say that it is acted to utter perfection.
There has been much criticism of the Romans as "good guys" in this film. I think it is far more subtle than that: no one is good, no one bad, they are all just striving to live the way they want, in accordance with their traditions. The Picts are genuinely savage warriors, but the reasons for their ruthless ferocity are completely clear: the Romans brutilized them in unspeakable ways as demonstrated more than once. For their part, the Romans are simple soldiers, part of a military machine the likes of which the world had never known. They are not good guys, they just are what they are: disciplined killers who will follow their leaders to the death for duty and hopefully glory. They are tougher beyond imagination, with their own codes of honor, though clearly one of the survivors is a sociopath. Another much criticized plot incident is the girl and love story. I suppose you could say it is unrealistic, but what the heck, it is a movie. To me, it was believable and moving (in however a superficial way you might want). Roman political machinations are also surprising, believable, and subtle.
This is not the kind of thing a pendant like me should pick apart. It is just a darn good story that completely absorbed me for 2 viewings. I will certainly watch it again. Warmly recommended.
A cleaved and semi-naked soldier is stumbling across a snowy tundra landscape with both of his hands tied in front of him. Quintus Dias is alone in this hostile terrain (Michael Fassbender) - and running from something far more terrifying than wild wolves eager to dig their teeth into his flesh. He's trying to outpace a barbarous tribe called The Picts...
We now go to two weeks earlier and Quintus is in full breastplate protective uniform standing on the wooden ramparts of Inch-Tuth-Il - the Northernmost Roman Garrison in Britania 117 AD (close to Scotland). "Even the land wants us dead..." he says ominously as he looks out at the dimly lit night. A few moments later and another guerrilla raid will bring that prophecy to fruition. Soon Quintus is in their midst - face to face with their fearsome Pict leader Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen) and then forced to fight a woman more blood-thirsty than a vampire - a Pict warrior called Etain who kills without mercy and doesn't speak (Olga Kurylenko).
But Quintus escapes and links up with the legendary Ninth Legion out of York and their leader General Titus (Dominic West) - sent on a final thrust into the Northern Territories by Governor Julius (Paul Freeman) who harbours political ambitions. Betrayed by their supposedly loyal guide - disaster follows in a wood ambush - and soon Etain and her merciless Picts are hunting Quintus and a small band of survivors...
Written and Directed by Neil Marshall in 2008 - "Centurion" did bugger all business at the box office which I think is unfair to it. Sure we've been in this slice-and-dice territory before - but here we get great actors like Dominic West (The Wire), Paul Freeman (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Ulrich Thomsen (Fringe and Banshee), Liam Cunningham (Game Of Thrones), Andreas Wisniewski (Die Hard and Mission Impossible) and David Morrissey (Thorne). And under all that muck and facial warpaint - we even get a double whammy of beauties - the "Quantum Of Solace" bond girl Olga Kurylenko - brilliantly cast as a mute female terminator who can smell you on the wind. Countering her is the gorgeous wild-haired Imogen Poots as a healing necromancer/witch - disfigured and cast out into the woods by her own - a wilderness that might just offer Quintus a future away from generals all too willing to sacrifice him and his men in the name of Rome's glory...
The BLU RAY picture quality is top notch - beautifully filmed on rugged and wild mountain terrain in Autumn and Winter (night and day) to give it that mud-and-blood feel (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1). The Extras are pleasingly comprehensive - full of the actors commenting and joking on set. There's features about Blood and Gore - Stunts - purpose built villages and wooden forts - and the physical difficulty of shooting in some dangerous and inhospitable locations. Audio is English 5.1 DTS Master Audio and English Audio Description 2.0 Stereo - while the lone Subtitle is English For The Hard of Hearing.
"Centurion" wishes it was "Gladiator" and clearly isn't (what film is). But it's a very entertaining watch and a proper blood-splattered looker on BLU RAY.
Don your Toga boys and get the Daz ready - you're gonna get down and dirty on this one...
on 5 September 2015
A tale of courage, honour and the threat of the unknown, lived and seen by the conqueror. Civilization faces the dark side of the world in an uncommon and not reassuring story, from the director of The Descent, starring an excellent and "glamourous" cast
on 7 May 2010
This is one of those rare under the radar films that is just stunning! Good plot, excellent action, and stunning acting and performances! Just an absolutely must see, great film!!!
Why this wasn't given more promotion/cinema time I will never know! But maybe it is all the more special for that?
Despite being the most overtly commercial of his films, The Descent director Neil Marshal's Centurion ended up doing the worst of any of them. One of that curious post-Gladiator subgenre of films inspired by the legend of the lost Ninth Legion (The Last Legion, The Eagle), it had the misfortune in the UK to open the same day as Agora in a rather limited release to much the same indifference from critics and paying audiences alike before going to cable TV in the US after a brief release on a dozen screens. Which is a pity, because it's a more historically savvy and satisfying film that Alejandro Amenabar's dreary polemic, and also a much more dramatic and entertaining one.
Not that it's another I Claudius or especially ambitious: this is a testosterone-driven manly action movie set in a convincingly rendered Roman Britain, a graveyard of ambition where mutual cruelty is the rule in the ongoing stalemate between the stalled invaders and the unyieldingly savage Picts. Yet it sets its gritty adventure in a credible environment and doesn't idealise its characters, limiting itself to the military side of the Empire, its soldiers a convincingly multicultural lot of hard cases. Characterisation is simple at best but effective enough for the film's needs - just enough to differentiate between its dirty half dozen legionaries being hunted down by vengeful Picts after being lured into a massacre while saving most of best writing for Michael Fassbender's occasional narration. Unfortunately Olga Kurylenko lacks the screen presence to really carry off her role as their mute nemesis relentlessly tracking them down: while the character may well be described as being an empty vessel that can only be filled by the blood of her enemies, she probably wasn't intended as quite such a blank slate. It's not a fatal flaw, but a stronger villain could have raised the stakes.
As with The Eagle, most of the spectacle is in the film's fist hour but it has a good sense of scale, with a particularly strong use of a harsh landscape that's as much an enemy as the Picts. Where his earlier Scottish-set Dog Soldiers was filmed almost entirely in Luxembourg, this time Marshall filmed on location in Scotland in some impressively inhospitable and grandiose locations with no greenscreen, and it pays dividends. The action scenes are convincingly brutal, making the most of the kind of damage steel does to bone and flesh without getting too silly about it, throwing in the odd memorable moment like a survivor being buried under the mounting number of dead bodies. There are a couple of lapses in logic - surely it would have made more sense for a traitor to have allowed the assassination of the roman governor of Britain than to have gained his trust by saving his life merely to lure a legion into a trap? - though thankfully most of the film's missteps, such as Rachel Stirling's duplicitous governor's wife, have been relegated to the deleted scenes bin of the DVD/Blu-ray. It's best viewed as a decent hard-edged Saturday night adventure film rather than an epic, but despite its almost under the radar theatrical release thanks to Marshal's strong direction and good visual sense it's one that works better than many a bigger budgeted epic.
The Blu-ray offers a good 2.40:1 transfer with audio commentary by Neil Marshall, Simon Bowles, Paul Hyett and Sam McCurdy, 6 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Marshall; outtakes, a 28-minute making of documentary split into four parts, production design gallery and and trailer.
on 11 March 2011
I really liked this movie. As a sword and sandal movie it exceeded my expectations. I liked the presentation of the action in the movie and the story was good enough to keep my attention.
For me it was sone of the best action I have seen in a movie. It was brutal, vicious, bloody and desperate.
Also, the movie was humourous in places. I have to say that I laughed at some of the dialogue especially at the beginning of the movie. And I found the characters in the movie interesting, even though there was not much depth.
The story was in the end a typical escape from enemy territory affair such as Stalingrad, Black Hawk down or the Warriors. But it was the sort of movie that I found myself routing for both sides. The story follows a group of Romans trying to escape from enemy territory while being pursued by ruthless Picts. But it is often difficult to sympathise with Romans who are probably guilty of all sorts of atrocities and invaded a country with the aim of destroying its people.
So the movies was slightly ambiguous as the Romans were not all good and the Picts were not evil just for the sake of being evil. They had their reasons for being ruthless.
The movie is not perfect. There is a lot of running about varied countryside which did not fit together and there are some parts where I would question how the hero knows certain things and how they manage to escape their pursuers. But for me, they are relatively minor in relation to the movie as a whole.
For me the ending was predictable, especially as you approach the end of the movie. But I actually quite liked it. It is only sad that it could not have been made more off.