Review: Centurion DVD

STUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Neil Marshall | CAST: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dominic West, Noel Clarke, David Morrisey
RELEASE DATE: 11/2/10 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes with commentary, outtakes, interviews, featurettes, more
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Action | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Centurion offers just the right kind of bloody and visceral experience to satisfy fans of such contemporary sword-and-sandal epic movies as Gladiator, 300 and Troy.

Set in 117 A.D., this spectacle from genre specialist Neal Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers) tells of Ancient Rome’s Ninth Legion’s march towards Scotland, only to encounter the guerilla-like Celtic group known as the Picts, who simply won’t have it. Leading the Romans is the brave centurion Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre), whose fiercest combatant turns out to be a lethal mute Pict female warrior (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace).

While the budget for Centurion is obviously not on the scale of the aforementioned epics, director/co-writer Marshall gets the most out of his rugged settings and fierce combat sequences. Fassbender, who was quite impressive in Inglourious Basterds and Hunger, shows he has the action hero goods, while The Wire’s Dominic West (playing a rowdy Roman general) and “Bond girl” Kurylenko are up to the demands of this rough-and-tumble period piece.

What makes Centurion most interesting — and confounding at the same time — is that there are no clear good guys here. Despite the fact that Fassbender’s Quintus is seemingly the hero by way of his heroics, it’s hard to root for his Roman troops who specialize in savagery and pillaging on at least the same level as their Neanderthal-like Pict assailants. Marshall also draws allusions to other contemporary wars involving invading factions, most obviously Vietnam and the current Middle Eastern conflicts.

Among the bonus features on the DVD are 15 minutes of deleted scenes with Marshall commenting on his reasons for omitting them from the films and a handful of outtakes that find the actors falling down and breaking up with laughter, which undoubtedly lightened up the mood of making a movie filled with so much graphic violence and savagery.

 

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.