Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CRACKER? Centurion


Quintas Dias
     “Centurion” is a war movie set in Roman Britain at the height of the Roman Empire (117 A.D.). Text on the screen tells us the Romans are encountering fierce resistance from the Picts who are using guerrilla warfare to keep the Romans out of the north. The main character is a centurion named Quintus Dias (Micheal Fassbender). He serves under a charismatic general (“He’s a ruthless, reckless bastard and I’d die for him without reservations” says one of his men) named Virilus (Dominic West). Virilus is ordered by the Roman governor to end the Pict threat. He is loaned a mute scout named Elain (Olga Kurylenko) who definitely does not look like a typical barbarian woman. She is surly and hot and can’t talk (every man’s fantasy).


Etain mouthing a war cry
      The 9th Legion marches north. They march into a fog so you know nothing bad could happen. Surprise! They are ambushed and wiped out. The Picts roll balls of fire down on them (a Roman slave named Spartacus makes note of this). Speaking of Spartacus (the Starz series this time), the violence is graphic and splatterful. It turns out the Etain led them into a trap. The Romans killed her father, raped her mother, and cut out her tongue. For some reason, she hates the Romans.  Go figure. She is a villain because she has a mean look on her face and she wants to kill Micheal Fassbender.

General Varilus
     Varilus is taken prisoner and the seven survivors (led by Dias) go to rescue him. They infiltrate the Pict camp at night, but cannot unchain him. In the process, Thax accidentally smothers a boy. Would you believe it’s the chief’s son and he is irritated about it? The seven escape.  Virilus is dispatched in a pretty good duel with Etain. The movie now becomes a chase film with Etain and others (including another hot chick) tracking the seven. Will all seven survive? Is this a Disney movie?


the other hot Pict chick
      Things get desperate for our heterogeneous small unit. They kill and eat a deer raw to prove you can turn an audience’s stomach in more ways than just amputations and impaling. At one point they have to jump off a cliff into a river ala Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (and now there are six as one drowns). Their camp is raided while they raid the Pict camp (and now they are five). They are now separated with Thax and black guy Macros being chased by wolves. Thax treacherously hamstrings his buddy to appease the wolves (and now there are three). Meanwhile, Dias, Brick, and Bothos hide out in the hut of Arianne (Imogen Potts) who is a Pict who was banished for witchcraft. They hide under her floor when Etain visits, but she cannot smell them (for a change). After she leaves, Dias and Arianne make a connection (off screen – none of that mushy stuff to distract from the gore).

some slashing and hacking
     The trio reaches an abandoned Roman castra and defend it against Elain and her crew. Every possible sword and arrow wound is displayed as though the director has a check list. (Arrow in left eye – check. Right arm cut off – check.) Dias kills Etain in a duel. That will teach her for trying to avenge herself and her family and stand up against foreign invaders intent on enslaving her people! Now there are three (when Thax returns). They head home, but Thax attacks the righteous Dias who is intent on turning Thax in for his crimes. Guess who wins that fight. Now there are two. Bothos rides ahead to the Roman camp with a big smile on his face because there’s no way the Roman guards could mistake him for a Pict. Now there is only Dias. And the rest is not history.

     If you like B-movies with so much blood and gore you have to take a shower when you get done, this movie is for you. The wounds are graphic, the action is intense, and there are not one, but two kick-ass female warriors. It is fairly well acted.  Honors go to the ever reliable West and Kurylenko who has to emote without dialogue.  Fassbender is appropriately rugged and the rest of the cast is serviceable. It is predictable and cliché-ridden, but entertaining. As far as accuracy, it’s not as farfetched as you might expect. It is possible that the 9th Legion was annihilated in northern Britain (although the historical consensus is against this theory). The Roman camp is authentic. The Roman weapons seem realistic.  The settings do take you back to the wilds of Roman Britain.  So far it is the best movie about the lost 9th Legion, at least until the next one comes out.

     Cracker?  This is a fun movie, but does not belong in august company.

6 comments:

  1. Really agree with your final assessment. Fun but that's it. Many people thought it was too gory. I thought it was ok, not too bad. I would never go as far as saying it is as good as 300 which many think. No way. I like the time period and that's why enjoyed it overall.

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  2. The War Movie BuffJune 16, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Agree on "300". "Centurion" is a pop corn movie (only don't eat pop corn while watching it - the severed limbs will make you sick). Which is better - "The Eagle" or "Centurion"?

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  3. I haven't seen The Eagle, you tell me.

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  4. the war movie buffJune 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Okay, compare it to "King Arthur" then. I'll tell you Centurion is better than the Eagle because it has hotter chicks. I mean it has three strong female characters.

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  5. When the hell are they going to write a movie on the side of the Pictish Celts? Screw the Romans, they were pompus, egotistical slave mongers, Give us our ancient Celtic pride movie!(Though I love Centurion, Olga and the "other hot chick" as well as the "necromancer" are all gorgeous too!

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  6. The interesting thing about "Centurion" is that although the Romans are the "heroes", the Picts are in the right. Unfortunately, the movie attempts to make us root for the bad guys. Really, Etain could have carried the movie as a heroine. The movie reminds me of many Westerns where the Indians are the villains. Movies like "They Died With Their Boots On" come to mind. As a consolation to Pictophiles, they do get to wipe out a Roman legion, torture and kill a Roman general, and only Michael Fassbender survives.

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Please fell free to comment. I would love to hear what you think and will respond.