Modern British Cult Cinema: Centurion

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When the legendary Roman Ninth Legion are ambushed and their numbers decimated by the elusive Picts, Centurion Quintus Dias and a small band of Ninth Legion survivors must mount a rescue of their captured General Virilus and escape before the wrath of their enemy destroys them all.

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dominic West, David Morrisey, Ulrich Thomsen, Lee Ross, Imogen Poots, Noel Clarke. Director: Neil Marshall. Writer: Neil Marshall.

Modern British Cult Cinema brings you another great movie from one of our favourite English Directors – Neil Marshall, best known for movies such as, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and The Descent. Unlike his previous action/horror hybrid movies, this time Marshall tackles the ancient past with the Roman occupation of Britain in 117 AD, though his trademark of copious amounts of action,violence and gore are still in full effect.

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The legendary Ninth Legion

Based upon the infamous tale of the disappearance of the Legendary Ninth Legion, 3000 elite Roman troops who mysteriously vanished whilst marching from York to Scotland in 117 AD. Though historians dispute what happened back then, Director Marshall gives us his own account of this classic story and one a hell of a great medieval period action movie. Shot in the UK, mainly in the highlands of Scotland and the English forests of Surrey and Hampshire, the movie is spectacular to behold, lavish sweeping shots of the amazingly beautiful but notoriously harsh Scottish highlands intercut with the more tranquil but still sumptuous English countryside, this movie is a feast for the eyes. 

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Beautiful Scottish scenery throughout

Talented actor Michael Fassbender plays Centurion Quintus Dias, lone survivor of a midnight raid on his Roman outpost by a Pict war band. Freed from his captors by General Virilus (Dominic West) and his Ninth Legion, Quintus joins them on their march into the Scottish wilds to capture or kill the leader of the Picts, Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen). Recruiting a Pict scout Etain (Olga Kurylenko) to guide them through the severe Scottish highlands, the Ninth Legion begin their march into eventual ruination and defeat. 

Neil Marshall brings us an epic and ambitious film replete with large scale battles and smaller, bloodier skirmishes. As with all of Marshall’s previous movies, he revels in showing us the ultimate outcome of violent actions, Centurion has it all, decapitation, impalement, throats are cut, arrows are embedded and one particular Legionary is interrupted by a spear whilst urinating, in a none too pleasant manner, such were the times though and Centurion captures the brutality of the era perfectly.

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Brutal, bloody battle sequences

Shot on a relatively small budget (around £14,000,000), the movie has the genuine look of a film that cost at least three times as much, the size and complexity of the film is on a grand scale, from the aforementioned camera work, the decent actors and the wardrobe comprising literally hundreds of Roman and Pict costumes and various weaponry. The acting itself is outstanding, Fassbender is excellent as ever embracing his role of Centurion Dias, though for me the film is stolen by Olga Kurylenko’s Etain, she is a strong, disquieting, dangerous but also sad character and Olga manages to show all these sides even though she never utters a word throughout the movie because Etain herself is mute. Backing them up are great supporting roles by Dominic West as General Virilus and Erich Thomsen as Pict leader Gorlacon amongst many others.

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“Ok, who ordered the giant flaming balls?”

The strange dichotomy of the film is that throughout you are rooting for Dias and the surviving legionary soldiers whilst they are hunted down by the Pict warriors, when in reality the Picts themselves were defending their land from the invading force that was the Roman army. Though Marshall does touch on this in a number of scenes, especially a sequence where Gorlacon tells captured General Dias of Etain’s tragic past due to Roman occupation, giving what was before a brutal enemy, some much needed pathos.

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You’d look pissed off too if the Romans cut out your tongue and destroyed your home!

Very much a British answer to films such as Gladiator, but made on about one tenth that particular film’s budget, Centurion is an impressive tale. The first half of the film is an epic in every sense with its massive battle scenes and large armies, the second part is more intimate in it’s story as the Roman survivors are hunted down by their Pict pursuers, though the magnificent landscape keeps the movie looking grand in scale even during these moments. You don’t necessarily have to be into medieval or fantasy movies to enjoy Centurion as it is ultimately an action flick, just set during the Roman wars in medieval Britain, another fantastic movie by Neil Marshall and well worthy your time.

Precinct1313 rating: V Gladius Hispaniensis out of V.

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About ArcaneHalloween

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies....but then isn't everyone?

Posted on January 8, 2015, in Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Another great flick I thought almost no one else saw. Neil Marshall is an excellent director, and I can not say enough good things about Fassbender. I’m also a big fan of Roman history and films dealing with the subject. Excellent review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I am a massive fan of all things Marshall he is an excellent director. I’m really glad you enjoyed the movie and as you said, I doubt a lot of people have heard of it. Though it is well thought of here in the UK and did get a cinema release. Thanks for the read, it seems we have a similar taste in movies!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. BTW, I think you’ll like Dead Snow 2 even if you disliked the first. It’s loaded with Star Wars references, believe it our not, and that always bumps things up, but it’s great on its own merits. For a horror flick that is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like the original dead snow, so I am sure I will enjoy it’s sequel, I love all things Norwegian especially their horror, seems all the best horror movies come from places like Norway and Spain these days, the REC movies also are fantastic, but you have probably seen those. Oh and Troll Hunter is brilliant if you haven’t seen it yet.

      Like

  3. I recently watched this and found it very entertaining not bad at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot believe that i didn’t know about this!! Thanks for posting so I can go find it asap!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is most amazing! The acting is stellar, but then I expect nothing less of people like M. Fassbender and O. Kurylenko. The scenery is stand out gorgeous throughout! I guarantee you will enjoy every minute of it, thanks for reading and commenting, have a most excellent day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Finding this is on my first to do list in the morning when I wake up! Those are my people so to speak! 🙂
        Thank you for the follow of which I shall return in kind as I’m thinking you have quite a lot of great things i may have somehow missed.
        So, well met and pleased to meet you! Have a lovely day!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is very nice to meet you also, found your blog through LMG comics and really like what I have seen there so far, saw how you spent some time at Loch Ness, Scotland is such a beautiful country, I really should visit it more often considering it really is only about half a days journey from where I live. Thank you for the follow also and I look forward to visiting your site on a regular basis 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh yes LMG comic. 🙂 ❤
        She’s quite simply the best!
        And in all seriousness while most people would say I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth the Rocky Mountains, in my opinion Scotland was “it!”
        Not going to lie but I was actually hoping if I camped out on the Ness long enough I’d eventually see Nessie!😄😄 That is really neat that you live so close! Both Scotland and England were beautiful! The jobs I did over there were semi sketchy but the beer and Scrumpy Jack are to die for! 😀
        My blog could be just about everything and anything so I hope you enjoy the adventure! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I forgot my manners..
        Good morning from Canada!! 🎉

        Liked by 1 person

      • And a very good evening from the UK :), Canada is a very beautiful part of the world, have never been there personally but have always wanted to.

        Like

  5. It sounds compelling! If you say it’s the British equivalent of the American Gladiator then it must be good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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