THE BEST PROMOS
- Runtime:97 min
- Release Date:2013-12-05 13:31:00
- Director: Neil Marshall
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, History, Thriller, War
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening of Centurion is a panning long shot of a Scottish mountain
landscape. It's a similar shot to Neil Marshall's earlier film Dog
Soldiers, but apparently this picture was filmed in the UK. His earlier
film was shot almost entirely in Luxembourg, and that means it isn't
authentic. This technique is not unique to Marshall, as he's borrowing
it from Mondo films. And like them, he attempts to sensationalize
violence by follow a group of characters through a hazardous but
believable situation. Mondo films are not as realistic as they think
themselves, which Marshall tries to correct this time by placing his
preferred violence within a historical context. This pet project is set
during the Roman invasion of Britain, which really happened a long time
ago. Such a discrete temporal placement is rendered unnecessary once we
hear our Ninth Legion heroes make overt references to the Iraqi War and
speak modern profanity. Dog Soldiers occurs in Scotland because
Marshall wanted it to, and frankly, no one cared where it happened. A
movie like this should be violent and probably misogynistic, and it
works only if we aren't making fun of it.
The most puzzling thing about the whole movie is Marshall's decision to
have us follow the Romans. The movie is light on dialog and heavy on
action, so the only way we have to identify with the characters is by
their classification. We should hardly be expected to sympathize with
the invading forces, even though they are vulnerable. And if that
wasn't a misfire enough, the Iraq illusions are presented by the Romans
troops, only further alienating them from us.
The narrative follows a video game-like structure. After we meet the
two parties, there is a conflict. We get a few moments of dullness and
another encounter begins. The only lull happens when the roman
commander, the last of his legion, finds a Pict outcast in the woods.
Being as she is the only female with a speaking part until that point,
he has to fall in love with her. The other female presence, a mute Pict
warrior, is played by Olga Kurylenko. I have reason to believe she is a
shrewd actress, but I have yet to see her be anything other a sex
object in the last Bond film, Paris je t'aime, Max Payne and now this.
She gets characterized like Lara Croft here; a silent sexy killing
machine. She's still young enough to pull this off for a few more
years, but I would really like to see her in a less exploitative role
in a mainstream film.
Centurion is a toss-up for (male) viewers. If you would like your
violence within a loose historical context, it satisfies as a rental.
Still, Dog Soldiers is more streamlined movie unburdened with such a
temporal constraint, and is scary. It also has numerous film references
which this one lacks. The Descent is his best work, being the most
focused and well-written. His most recent movie is a gutted version of
one of his earlier works without the slightest trace of what made his
earlier works enjoyable. Seriously, go rent Doomsday if you skipped it
instead of this one.
Now Centurion, or should I call it The Descent 2? But there is already
a sequel to that film I hear you say – and I acknowledge that. But
while The Descent 2 was so faithful it was almost a remake, Centurion
too is eerily similar in many respects.
OK so this is set in ancient Rome and not a cave = different, but let's
keep going; The Descent 6 people are isolated by circumstances and
beset by enemies.
Centurion 7 people are isolated by circumstances and beset by
The Descent While on the run one of the party suffers a graphic
The Descent The leaders of the attackers are vicious and
The Descent To escape one of the survivors willingly and perhaps
unnecessarily sacrifices another.
OK one similarity = fair enough, 2? = pushing it
But 4 key plot
details practically the same and it reeks either of a lack of
inspiration or laziness.
Centurion follows a small band of Roman soldiers isolated from the main
army and caught deep in enemy territory. It is very violent but
obviously CGI assisted this is starting to reduce the visceral impact
for me when pinkish blood spurts out in blatantly computerised fashion
and features a couple of good original scenes, but there is just too
many similarities that remind you of a former and much, much better
Even if you are ripping yourself off it still is a little dishonest.
The use of supposed rebel hottie fighters is excusable except for the
fact that they really only get into one stoush, hard to justify just
how awesome they are if they take on an enemy in lesser numbers.
There are some sweeping vistas and exciting camera-work that reminded
me a lot of the Lord of the Rings in terms of scenery, but the
comparisons ended there.
If you want to watch a movie about a small group attempting to elude
vicious assailants rent The Descent, better yet buy it.
If you want to watch the same thing only nowhere near as good you might
check this out. Just let it be known that if Neil Marshall lived in the
US he might be named Zack Snyder, whether you think that is a good
thing or not is up to you.
Final Rating 5.5 / 10. Neil Marshall keeps coming up with
fanboy-friendly plots and settings, but it seems he left the best of
his ideas behind in The Descent. One more chance Mr Marshall.
The Good: the fighting was nice, scenes were mainly quick shots of
people being skewered and sliced, blood everywhere which was cool even
though it looked like it was totally added digitally. The Bad: the
story completely sucked. completely. i didn't care about any the
characters, the story was very predictable, and not very intriguing
whatsoever. it was like watching braveheart from the other side…only
i thought they deserved to get killed for slaughtering townsfolk..had
to stop watching this one. and it was full of shots of the main
characters running over mountains, that looked like they were lifted
from lotr. This one only get 2 points for the bloody fighting, so much
potential but the story completely blows.
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