Thursday, 17 November 2011
Centurion - dvd review
Losing a lot of the over the top feel of the (still great fun) Doomsday, Neil Marshall tells the story of the Ninth Legion and their attempts to defeat the Picts. Led by their General and guided by a mute Pict scout, the Ninth march north beyond the borders of Roman Occupation. On the way, they met the lone survivor of a Roman fort which was destroyed by the Picts a few weeks before. This survivor, Quintus Dias, joins with the Ninth, as eager as they are to get stuck in to the Picts. The plan doesn't go quite as imagined, of course, and after a stunningly bloody battle, Dias and a handful of survivors must somehow rescue their General and get back to safety before the Picts track them down.
It's a simple story with definite shades of Marshall's other films. While the survivors don't share the banter and comradeship of the squaddies in Dog Soldiers, it's easy to see the Picts as that film's werewolves or the rampaging cannibal/Mad Max clones from Doomsday. Even so, Centurion is a great success. The locations of snowy mountains and forests fit Roman Britain perfectly; the performances, particularly a nicely understated one from Liam Cunnigham as a grumpy older soldier, are first rate, and Marshall is fast becoming an expert at delivering a solid story in the middle of some impressive violence. Incidentally, the violence is as bloody as you should expect. There are no guns here, no pithy one liners delivered by handsome good guys before they kill the baddies. There are swords and axes; people bleed, they scream and this stuff hurts - just as it would in real life. It's mucky and cold and savage. I loved it.
With Centurion, Neil Marshall has made his fourth film in a row which I hugely enjoyed. I'm already looking forward to whatever he does next.