Thursday, 22 April 2010

Centurion

Centurion
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dominic West
Director: Neil Marshall
Warner Brothers

In Cinemas From 23 April
Review by Blake Harmer

Neil Marshall has always been about two things when it comes to making movies: gripping death scenes and funny one-liners, and whilst he hasn’t been able to top his debut feature length movie Dog Soldiers, Marshall has always delivered strong, if not groundbreaking, movies. So I went in with high hopes for his most recent action movie centurion, but can Romans cutting Picts into bread outdo Soldiers versus werewolves?

The plot of Centurion centres around Quintus (Michael Fassbender), the sole survivor of a savage raid on a Roman frontier fort, joining General Virilus’ (Dominic West (300, Punisher: Warzone, & Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace as a palace guard)) legendary ninth legion to march north and eradicate the terrifying tribe known as the Picts. However, when the legion is practically wiped out and Virilus captured, Quintus and a small band of soldiers must struggle to survive behind enemy lines, but will they save their general, evade capture and make it back to the Roman frontier?
As is with Marshall’s other films, the film has some excellent fight scenes and some very gory deaths including axes imbedded in skulls or spears impaling people with lots of blood spewing out, and whilst the deaths aren’t flashy or stylish, the brutal way weapons dig into flesh and heads cave in is almost guaranteed to make you wince a couple of times throughout the film, and this style of violence is very similar to his other films such as The Descent or Doomsday. The film also keeps to Marshall’s strengths by having some very strong lines amongst the banter you hear from the soldiers throughout the film. Special mention should also go to the fact that the film hardly uses any computer-generated special effects, which is really good to see in an age where green screen and CG effects are the norm.

However, Centurion is far from a perfect action film. Some of the characters that form Quintus’ band of soldiers after the ninth legion is destroyed could have benefited from a bit more character development rather than just a single campfire scene where they introduce each other. Sadly, this meant I didn’t really care whether they lived or died aside from Quintus - the central protagonist. I also felt that the plot whilst enjoyable, was a little unoriginal in places, especially as the premise of them trying to get back to the Roman frontier from behind enemy lines felt like a Roman version of The Warriors.
Finally, I felt that some parts of the film, especially towards the end felt a little bit rushed as though they spent too much time in the middle of the film. However, these flaws are pretty minor for what is essentially a fun and entertaining action film filled with good set pieces, gory death scenes, and cool one liners, and that is what an E14 film should be.

So to answer my original question, has Neil Marshall been able to break the mould and deliver a film more entertaining than Dog Soldiers? Sadly, the answer is no, and the films biggest flaw is that, in comparison to his other works and action films in general, Centurion doesn’t really offer anything new and fresh to the action genre. But if you want to see an enjoyable action fest filled with gory death scenes, Centurion gladly steps up to the table and dishes out just that.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Lots of gore and cool death scenes throughout, just what Neil Marshall does best in his films.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Swear words used to great effect to create some brilliant one-liners.
Summary: An enjoyable action film with lots of gore and swearing to keep the majority of the Emotionally Fourteen happy, and whilst the plot may not be the most original, Marshall has stuck to what he does best, and delivered a thoroughly entertaining film filled with gory action and great one-liners. Go watch it if you are an action fan or a big fan of Neil Marshall’s previous films, just don’t expect it to be vastly different from anything else he has done before. 8/10

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