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Bob Doto [Celluloid 06.10.10] movie review action thriller drama adventure



Year: 2010
Directors: Neil Marshall
Writers: Neil Marshall
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 5 out of 10

Neil Marshall’s latest pummel-fest, CENTURION, is a period piece set in 117 CE and follows the sole survivor of a Pict raid, a Roman soldier named Quintus (Michael Fassbender), as he attempts to save his Roman comrades along with himself from a ruthless Pict tracker named Etain (Olga Kurylenko) who, because of a severe childhood trauma at the hands of the Roman empire, has made it her business the slaughtering of every Roman she can get her hands on.


CENTURION is a film that wrestles with the idea and complications of the protagonist. Who’s good? Who’s bad? Marshall takes the standard high road—we’ve all got some good and bad in us—which ends up leaving me, however, unsatisfied. Yes, the Romans are an evil empire raping and pillaging villages just to expand their greedy hold on power, but, hey, the Picts weren’t so great either, right? I mean the Picts were brutal savages who believed in fairies, no? Civilization must carry onward, correct? I call BS.

It’s not that Marshall’s yin-yang take on life in general is wrong, of course we’re all riddled with positive and negative tendencies, but Marshall seems to ignore the fact that once we agree on this we can finally get back to supporting those who really need it…in this case the Picts. As much as Marshall would like me to believe that in the end we’re all the same, so why engage at all, I have to say that that’s a cop out. Clearly the Picts are the ones to be supported, if for no other reason that we can barely remember who they actually were in real life. The Picts were actual people, you know! But, Marshall clearly has picked a side in this battle by way of Quintus, and thus the Romans. Quintus is our main character, and lest we forget, Quintus was a soldier fighting for the empire. Please don’t expect me to sympathize with him now that he’s realized that, wow, empires are bad. How come he couldn’t realize that while he was slaughtering women and children during his golden fighting years? Pleeeeeeze.

You know, I’m kind of sick of the narrative whereby our “hero” is a guy with a horrible past, who shills for the man, and then happens to come to his senses all because a little female woo woo was dangling in front of him. AVATAR anyone? You know what I want to hear about? I want to hear about the woman or man who right out of the gate gave a right good middle finger to the Empire and did his or her best to help those unable to help themselves. I want to hear about a character who, before he got his ass kicked from every side, decided that empires suck, and we should disrupt them at every turn.

But no, after buckets of blood and innumerable severed body parts, we’re expected to see how everyone’s got a little badness in them, as well as goodness, and judging from Marshall’s ending, our best bet is to remove ourselves from the discussion entirely by finding a nice woman and moving into the woods while the world battles it out.

I give this film a five out of ten because it’s a weak attempt to parallel and then reduce each “side” in our current warring escapades to “not entirely good,” and then suggest that we each find a woman and live in the woods to get away from it all. We should do that anyway, but not before we kick the empires where it hurts.

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Kurt (7 years ago) Reply

STill can't wait to see this one, along with Chris Smith's BLACK DEATH and that adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's ONE.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

this is not a review. its a rant on the script at best. i m sick of people who think they are "reviewing" a film, when what they really do is just about superficially scratching on the surface of the explicit narrative. theres more to the film than the simple foreground narrative.

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agentorange (7 years ago) Reply

Bob said: "I want to hear about the woman or man who right out of the gate gave a right good middle finger to the Empire and did his or her best to help those unable to help themselves."

Star Wars ;)

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Bob Doto (7 years ago) Reply

Anonymous: There's already a wonderfully written review of the film on the site here:

http://www.quietearth.us/articles/2010/03/16/SXSW-2010-Review-of-Neil-Marshalls-CENTURION

Also, my unwillingness to engage the story below the surface of the script IS my review. It's a five... not much to say.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

yea but please then call it a script review or story review. its not the set designers fault that the script sucks. the people in the sound department also could have done a brilliant job even thou the script wasnt up to the job. even actors can bring a terrific performance to a horrid screenplay....

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Kal Verd (7 years ago) Reply

I saw this about five months ago in a preview screening. As a fan of Marshall's early work there where elements i liked although i doubt we're ever going to see the Dog Soldiers/Descent Marshall ever again. The main problem i had with the film was the ending i had hoped that with enough bad comments from the preview screenings they may have changed it for something a little less cheesy and obvious but after reading..."that we each find a woman and live in the woods to get away from it all"... it seems they have kept the ending i saw which is a shame.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

"suggest that we each find a woman and live in the woods to get away from it all"

Isn't Marshall a gay bear, anyway? I'll take a second helping of beefcake!

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Michael (7 years ago) Reply

made a lot movies there Bob?

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uncleB (7 years ago) Reply

..."that we each find a woman and live in the woods to get away from it all"... it seems they have kept the ending i saw which is a shame.

Thanks for the ending AH!

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Hal (7 years ago) Reply

Bob, how would you read Hurt Locker in your analysis?

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S.M. Stirling (7 years ago) Reply

Actually, empires often don't suck.

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Anonymous (6 years ago) Reply

^Stirling in 1930s:"long live da fuhrer"

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Anonymous (6 years ago) Reply

you just ripped on wasnt marshall or centurion for that matter, but the plot of a protagonist being hunted and betrayed, and i would challenge you to name one mer fing character that is pure good other than the GOD of the bible ,,, my review on your review: you dont earn stars, you get 10 of 10 whats the opposite of a star? dirt.. you get 10 dirt... now i hope ive offended you and you probably retaliate but idc im not gonna make it back to your shit page to hear your resettle, reviews are for informing and all you did was complain so next time you feel the itch to publish you bable just.... think of the world first and hold your pathetic thoughts to yourself... you prob ripped on cameron for using a similar plot to pocahantas so in my opinion... you suck


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