Monday, October 18, 2010

Movies with Milky: Centurion

Is CG blood cheaper or easier? I just want to know why it's so prevalent these days. Everything from Rob Zombie putting a CG Bowie knife in someone's chest in THE DEVIL'S REJECTS to the virtual buckets of CG blood in Neil Marshall's latest, CENTURION. It looks so fake. Are squibs too dangerous? I'm guessing it makes filming a lot easier, as the Pict just falls down and then we can add the gore later, so if they flub it, no re-shoot required. However, I'll forgive this latest film by the guy who gave us DOOMSDAY (full review) THE DESCENT and DOG SOLDIERS because he makes films that are just so much damn fun that I can overlook their flaws. This one has the usual- some off pacing with an overlong second act, and a few meandering subplots that could have used a rewrite- but they are easily forgiven with the tons of bloody action we get. Marshall knows how to engage the audience and he does a great job here.
My kingdom for a tongue!
CENTURION tells the story of the Roman Ninth Legion (wikipedia link) which was glossed over in the history books, due to the Romans' brutal defeat by an uprising of the Picts. I liked this bloody version better than the fun sword & sandal version THE LAST LEGION (full review) that came out a few years back. Michael Fassbender (the British spy who can't count to 3 in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) plays Centurion Quintus Dias, the lone survivor of the most remote garrison north of Londinium in the overstretched Roman Empire. The story begins after we meet him, and soon a guard has a spear thrust into his crotch and the place is overrun by marauding Picts, in a spectacular and bloody battle that doesn't rely on silly movie cliches. Don't get attached to anyone, because in a swordfight, people get hurt...
The problem with rabble is there's so many of them!
Quintus escapes, and flees south to get the rest of the legion ready for this onslaught, but the Picts are very well prepared with ambushes. The leader has a "tame Pict" tracker played by Olga Kurylenko - Camille from QUANTUM OF SOLACE- who unfortunately had her tongue cut out by Roman soldiers as a child. Unfortunate because this gives us a mute female lead, but I guess her accent might have been odd, given that everyone has a British one. Anyway, she's the female badass in this Marshall flick, and I like his better than Joss Whedon's, because they actually look like they can kick your ass instead of being anime characters from a fanboy's wet dream. She's got the Rhona Mitra role this time, except she can't say any snappy one-liners.

Run, Fassbender, run!!
The story bogs down a bit with betrayals and aborted rescues, but the battles are a blast, and it's a fitting tale to explain the loss of the Ninth Legion. It's a lot like OUTLANDER (full review) without aliens, and I'm glad more films like this are being made. If CG blood allows us to have more bloody sword & sandal flicks, then so be it! This one is definitely worth a rental, and I'll be adding the Blu-Ray to my collection when it is released. Milky loved it as well, and recommended it. I haven't seen this many heads get lopped off since the French Revolution (yes, I was there) and the battles will make you fondly remember BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR. Fave kill? Someone gets chopped in the mouth and the whole top of their head gets removed.

Rating:
3.5 severed tongues out of 5


© 2010 Tommy Salami

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