Previously, on this website:
[From the press release] Centurion is a gripping survival thriller set against a background of conquest and invasion; a pursuit movie in the vein of Deliverance, Last of the Mohicans and Apocalypto.
So Brenda said...
After watching the trailer, I get the impression this is a lot more like Saving Private Ryan mixed with Braveheart.
And yet also...
300 was great the first couple of times around, but I don't really need to see it -- or a watered down version of it -- again.
...when did the memo go out letting everyone know that historical England had no white balance?
Brenda: ...Okay, so I was totally wrong. It wasn't anything much like 300, or Braveheart, or Gladiator. And it wasn't all desaturated, either. It was beautifully shot, and thank God they didn't use filters on everything. The landscape just looked like it looked -- bleak -- because it was winter in Scotland. But mostly sunrises looked like sunrises and grassy meadows looked like grassy meadows, there wasn't a constant blue tint to everything just because it was a "historical" film.
Laura: I was expecting something more along the lines of 300 as well, but it's really a much better film from a historical perspective, though possibly not from a graphic violence perspective, and certainly not from a shirtless perspective. (In fairness, nothing could possibly top 300 in that regard.) Basically, Centurion tells the tale of what could have happened to the 9th Legion. It's actually more than a hot guys with swords movie, and that sort of threw me at first. I wasn't expecting all the plot.
Brenda: I think one of the things that surprised and delighted me the most was how the story managed to have you rooting alternately for the Romans or the Picts -- whomever was more of an underdog at the time, you felt for them.
Laura: The movie opens with Michael Fassbender, shirtless and bound, running through the snow. Then it jumps to two weeks prior to that. This is presumably so they could open and close the movie on the same line of dialogue. It's a bit pointless, but one can't really argue that opening on Michael Fassbender shirtless is a bad idea. As a matter of fact, I'd say my biggest complaint about this movie is that Michael Fassbender puts on a shirt pretty early in the film, and never takes it off again.
Brenda: I would also like to have a talk with whomever decided that David Morrissey's character be styled so that it takes me 45 minutes and I have to fetch my glasses in order to figure out who he's playing. I mean, I realize it's not all going to be Viva Blackpool but I don't think it's unreasonable that I should expect him to be recognizable.
Laura: Dominic West plays the 9th Legion's general and he is so fucking manly his last name is Virilus.
Brenda: Dominic appears to be upset that he wasn't able to spend his free time pumping iron with Gerard Butler for 300. I liked when I asked Laura about this movie and she said that "shirtlessness" was at a low, considering the setting, and I said if it's a movie with Dominic West in it, I'd prefer drunken scenes to shirtless ones. "Oh, his first scene is a drinking scene," she responded. SOLD. (If you haven't seen The Wire then I will wait here while you go rent it. Alternately, for a quicker version of West Drunkeness, watch 28 Days.)
Laura: This isn't really a complaint, because I didn't expect any women to be in the movie, but it's an hour before a female character has a line of dialogue, and the character is pretty generic, but not unlikably so. There is a very prominent female character in Etain, a Pict tracker played by Olga Kurylenko, but she's mute.
Brenda: You really can't blame Etain for not talking, I mean she has a horrible singing voice. It sounds like Pterodactyl Karaoke.
Laura: Yeah, that scream was...interesting. I think it's more likely that it was because Olga Kurylenko is Ukrainian though. It would be weird to have a Pict with a Ukrainian accent.
Brenda: Kevin Costner has taught me not to expect such things as actors with accents representative of their characters.
Laura: Also, despite the lack of dialogue, the two Pict women are actually the scariest of the bunch, and manage to be much more distinctive than most of the Romans, aside from one asshole who causes most of the problems. But the Romans could be very British at times, which I found very amusing.
Brenda: I think the best way to describe this movie is Rome (the HBO series), but on the road. Like The Facts of Life Goes to Paris or when The Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii. Rome Does Scotland, but Without The One Dude And the Blond One Or James Purefoy.
Laura: Centurion gets major points for not shying away from the blood. I'm pretty sure the most frequently used sound effect is that of blade sinking into skull. The beheading count is also pretty high. There's a part where a head is hacked off with several blows to the neck with a small axe, and that was entirely awesome.
Brenda: Below is a montage of some of our most favorite beheadings, throat slittings, and sundry. If you want to be pleasantly surprised by these things in the movie, skip it. If you just want to brighten up your Monday, by all means, watch away.
Brenda: I think the best part is that almost everyone dies from a severed head wound. It's like the Roman Legion and the Picts were used to fighting zombies instead of each other.
Laura: Well now I'm wondering why there isn't a movie where they have to team up to fight zombies. That could be a whole other explanation as to what happened to the 9th Legion.
Brenda: Maybe that's what should be expected from Black Death. I suspect it may be Medieval Zombies.
Laura: Overall, Centurion had a pretty good ratio of things that are awesome (violence, beheadings, Michael Fassbender shirtless), to an actual plot that was interesting. I would have preferred it if the action didn't slow down so much about halfway through, all the really big battles are in the beginning, but that's all in service of the story. I think I can pretty solidly recommend this one.
Brenda: It should be noted that the main reason the action slows down is that most of the main cast, plus about four thousand extras, are killed over the course of the film, and there are literally only three cast members left alive by the end. I won't spoil it, but there was a point I wondered to myself why it is I always seem to pick the dumb ones to love. Regardless of pretty stupid boys, you should check out this film On Demand or on Netflix's Watch Instantly.
Alternately, you can peruse the Centurion Website.