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Centurion

A 2010 movie directed by Niel Marshall.

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Bloody but Bare; "Centurion" is a B-movie at heart but also a mediocre stab at an epic.

  • Jan 17, 2011
Rating:
-1
** out of ****

It took "Doomsday" for me to realize just how strange Neil Marshall's "The Descent" looks on his entire filmography. "The Descent" is a great horror film and always will be, but Marshall seems more content with B-Movies than he is with actual masterpieces. Still, I have always expressed interest in his work. I think he is talented at what he does, although little by little, he might be loosing my support. While "Centurion" ultimately fails to be the first "bad" Neil Marshall-directed production, it's a missed effort. It could have been good, and it delivers the bloody and stylish goods. Some will like the film for that, and I don't blame them. And while "Centurion" was pretty entertaining in its action sequences and appropriately interesting in its visuals, everything else was just "meh". Overall, Neil Marshall's latest feels very hollow. It doesn't have great characters, a great story, or great dialogue. Sure, it sort of makes up for its general lack of substance with plenty of thrills and spills, but it just doesn't feel as complete or "epic" as it might have wanted to be. I think there's some damn good direction going on here; Neil Marshall seems to know what he wants his film to be. Like "Doomsday", he doesn't add good writing and characters for a reason; he just wants to try something out. But I thought he had stopped experimenting when he made "The Descent". I guess not. I'm sure that one day he will get back on track and make yet another impressive or semi-impressive flick, but for now he's stuck making the kind of faux B-Movies that I just can't seem to appreciate. Believe me; I know what "Centurion" wants to be. It's not too hard to see the movie for what it is, and you know what I think of it? I think it's a disappointment. I think it's merely an experiment. I think that it's the kind of film that should have been handled perhaps a little more carefully. Of course, it gets some points for being stylized and pretty looking. But it also looses points for being a bit mind-numbing when the whole ordeal is over. That is if you could call it an ordeal to begin with. For what it's worth, "Centurion" is not a bad film. Nor is it a good film. You know what: it's a decent movie when it's all over. There's nothing involved in it that insults our intelligence, nor does it insult filmmaking. Once again, I respect what Neil Marshall wanted to do here. Just not what he ended up making. But for all you action fans looking for a decent bloody swashbuckler, you might as well give "Centurion" a shot, mostly because you could do a lot worse. And a lot better.

"Centurion" begins and ends whilst depicting the war between the Romans and the Picts. We have a hero by the name of Quintus Dias. While almost instantly he is captured after his small village is raided, Dias manages to escape the clutches of evil and soon he's back on the road. And of course, he happens upon a Roman army and joins them on their conquest. His hatred for the Picts creates a sense of vengeance, and he creates from his mental madness an overwhelming amount of battlefield intensity. That's essentially the entire plot right there, aside from a few detours and a few good bloody battles here and there. Otherwise, "Centurion" is as vague and bland as I was when describing it. I find it perfectly appropriate to give a movie an equal amount of respect that it gave you, and believe me; "Centurion" didn't give me much. Yet I didn't completely hate it. "Centurion", for what it's worth, has some pretty entertaining scenes. Most of these are action sequences, all of which are genuinely bloody and stylized (which explains WHY they're entertaining). It's all a part of Neil Marshall's grand vision, which turns out to be nothing short of pretentious. Marshall seems to think that his "Centurion" is some sort of big actioner with a lot of stylistic elements. He knows that his film is stylish, and so do we. But that's not good enough. I mean, provide us with a story and characters if you intend on making a film worth watching. Whenever "Centurion" isn't using its time up through entertaining battles, it's wasting both our and its own time on cheesy dialogue. Somehow, I think the cheesiness was intended. It was sort of built in. But that doesn't make it right. On the bright side, "Centurion" is easy to forget. The whole thing sort of fades long after you've finished it, and believe me; you'll be happy it's gone. All in all, it's a somewhat entertaining watch although it's completely stupid and forgettable in a number of instances. Some will like it, however. Take it as you will.

I'd love to call the acts by the actors in this film "performances". But since nobody plays a convincing and/or inspired character, that's just not possible. The leading man is Michael Fassbender, who is a genuinely talented actor who just can't seem to get things right in his role for "Centurion". Somehow I feel that these soldiers are people we're supposed to care about given their extended amounts of screen-time, but man, are they bland! Liam Cunningham is somewhat decent in his role, as is Dominic West, but everyone else (including most of the main cast) just feels so darned off. Overall, I wanted something better, even out of an intended B-Movie. If you're gonna go cheesy, get good "cheesy" actors. You know...like Bruce Campbell! "Centurion" feels too serious and if it had been intentionally funny, then maybe it would have worked and had more potential for solid actors. But it's just so darned bleak, and that's why it's so forgettable.

Neil Marshall is one for bleak but effective imagery. He's switched from magnificent ("The Descent") to mediocre ("Doomsday") from time to time. However, "Centurion" is still a visually impressive thing. The cinematography, in terms of angles, might as well be somewhat spectacular. I wasn't in complete agreement with Marshall's choice of shading, although in some instances the man does what he wants to do. The first thing you may notice is the look of the blood. Marshall's intent was to give the blood a certain almost non-realistic look. That's great. That's wonderful. And sometimes it even gets that blood-filled feeling of campiness that it desires, but "Centurion" is way too serious for me to decide just what it wants to be. It's a film filled with style, and it certainly lacks any substance. It's a bleak and bland movie, so I suggest you avoid it therefore. As if being directed by a guy who seemingly made a one-hit-wonder with "The Descent" makes it automatically special, "Centurion" will get an audience whether I like it or not. I don't know if it is quite fit for being a cult film, but whatever it is, I'm fine with it existing. The experience never felt to painful, nor did it feel as entertaining as it wanted to be. Marshall's central themes are always overshadowed by the bloodlust of the film's characters, thus for many, it's a tough sell. But look at the bright side: at least it looks semi-pretty.

Marshall's "Centurion" really isn't a bad movie. I don't wish to call it one, but it can't possibly be good either. The film has a lot of flaws; one of them being its general lack of appeal. It's bloody, brutal, grisly, and often times depraved. It's somewhat entertaining out of its large amounts of brutality, although there's nothing truly interesting about it. "Centurion" is really no different from what Hollywood would have done to the concept. However, maybe then the helmer would have provided some interesting dialogue. I don't understand how such a talented director as Marshall could go so down-hill and his career. Things just seem to be getting worse and worse. I hope to god that the man finds another project to save his career, because for once I want to say "I like Neil Marshall" in the sense where I can truly be proud of it. And Marshall, I'm finding it hard to like you when your most recent two films have been mediocre. On the bright side, it contains some bloody thrills. On the less-bright side, it's a bland movie through and through. It doesn't have good characters and it doesn't have good story-telling. It's fairly weak when the day is over, and after seeing "Doomsday", that just doesn't surprise me enough. I can't recommend it, although for some it will work its magic. Tread its waters at will, and always be cautious, because boredom is probably be around the corner. And that's my two cents on Neil Marshall's latest.

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January 17, 2011
Great review although I liked this movie but I can see your point, I loved my girl in this as I did in "Doomsday" as she hunts them down. I liked "The Descent" as well but his masterpiece in my eyes is "Dog Soldiers", it is like the "Evil Dead" of werewolf flicks. Also loved your Bruce Campbell reference.
January 18, 2011
Your girl? You mean Olga?
 
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More Centurion reviews
review by . August 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Neil Marshall Incorporates Blood, Violent, Gore and Substance in This Epic-Adventure!
The name Neil Marshall is enough to draw me in seeing a film since I was real impressed with “Dog Soldiers” and I liked “The Descent” for its "girls who fight back" overtones; also, despite my disappointments with “Doomsday”, I didn’t hate that one at all. This time, Marshall goes for the swordplay-historical epic theme with his film “CENTURION” that he wrote and directed himself. The film is based on the story of the Ninth …
review by . December 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A lance arcs down and hits an eyeball; gobs of blood arc out. Wow!
Centurion, a Roman empire epic set in Britain in 117 AD, has many of those qualities we see in the best of this genre: A plot line as empty as Gladiator’s; self-polishing abs breast plates for all officers; The Life of Brian’s historical attention to accuracy. It adds blood arcing for some distance into the sky when a lance meets an eyeball. And there are two feral lady barbarians, one blond with what looks like bad teeth (Aeron, played by Axelle Carolyn) and one brunette, whose teeth …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #1
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

In ancient Scotland, a Roman officer named Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) is liberated from his Pictish captors by the Ninth Legion. The soldiers are in pursuit of the Picts' leader, and Quintus joins their quest. Soon after, the Romans' Pictish guide betrays them, resulting in the slaughter of all but a handful of men. Quintus and his fellow survivors try desperately to reach safety as enemy warriors pick them off one by one.
  • Poster art for "Centurion."
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    Tags

    Movies, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Swords And Sandals

    Details

    Director: Neil Marshall
    Genre: Action, Adventure
    Release Date: August 27, 2010
    MPAA Rating: R
    Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.
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