Monday, February 7, 2011


Let me say this up front, Neil Marshall is one of the most talented directors making movies today. He could direct a movie starring Nic Cage as a homosexual University of Alabama alum turned Nascar driver who loved the New York Rangers and refused to wear pants, and I would still watch be first in line to buy a ticket. My love affair with Neil's work began with Dog Soldiers and has carried on through The Descent, Doomsday, and now Centurion.

Centurion is the story of the fabled 9th Legion of Rome, who disappeared mysteriously during Rome's attempted overtaking of Britain. The army met with some resistance Scotland in the form of a band of savage rebels known as the Picts. The 9th Legion, comprised of 3000 soldiers, commanded by Titus Flavius Virilus, entered the Scottish moors ordered to eliminate the Picts and were never heard from again.

In Centurion, Neil Marshall gives us his take on what happened to the Legion, as they are lured into a trap by a tracker who was sent to infiltrate the Legion by the Picts. Out of the 3,000 Romans in battle, only 7 survive. Virilus is captured, and Quintas Dias takes up his sword to lead the small group of survivors in an attempt to rescue their General and regroup at the Roman frontier. They have not only the weather and mountainous terrain to overcome, but also a group of Pict being lead by Etain, the tracker who previously double crossed them.

In all honesty, Centurion is probably my least favorite of Neil Marshall's movies. It's not a bad film, in fact it's pretty damn good, it's just not my cup of tea. It brings to mind movies like Gladiator and 300, both of which are fantastic movies, just not my favorite genre of movie, or era of history I suppose. Gladiator is awesome, but definitely not my favorite Ridley Scott movie, and 300 is better than awesome, but still not my favorite Zack Snyder movie, ya dig? Centurion is the same. There's a lot I like, it moves along pretty well, some beautiful camera work, lots of big battles and Neil Marshall signature gore and dismemberment. But it's swords and shields, and bows and arrows, and I prefer chainsaws and machetes, and guns and explosions.

That being said, Centurion is still a movie I would recommend to anybody. The true test of this, or any other type of movie that fits into a genre that I personally don't care for all that much, is whether or not I was entertained by it. I thought Centurion was most definitely entertaining, in fact I put it right up there against Gladiator and feel like it holds it's own. It may not have the star power of Russels Crowe or What's-his-name Phoenix, but that's part of what actually makes it better in my opinion. Sadly, you can probably find the dvd of Centurion in the dump bin at your local video place, or if you have Netflix streaming capability it's available there. Do yourself a favor and give it a look.


hrimcealde said...

i thought this movie would never end. While i thought it was aesthetically pleasing--the blues and grays of the background interspersed with the red of the blood, plus the way they filmed the fight sequences, all that was awesome. But the characterization was terrible. As in, there wasn't any; it was hard to tell one character from another...probably because the plot was just "Run! The Picts! Hide! The Picts!" Perhaps if there had been some variation in the plot it would have been more interesting. And what's with the Romans being the good guys? They were invading Britain and trying to force their rule on the native population. Of course they're going to get pissy.

Mister Bones said...

I didn't think the Romans were portrayed as any better than the Pict were, that was one thing I liked about it. I also thought it had enough characterization, or at least as much as any other movie of this type. I could tell them apart, I don't remember specific names at this point because it's been a few days, but there was the main protagonist, comic relief, traitor, etc. Kinda made sense to me that they didn't "gel" all that well being that they were members of a 3,000+ member legion, and were likely not much more than strangers.

And besides, I'm clearly biased as I would have Neil Marshall's children if he asked me to.