August 31, 2010
Centurion & The Slow Rise of Michael Fassbender
"Centurion" delivers the sword and sandals action that I hoped it would, however it should be noted that the sword and sandal balance is way tipped in the swords favor. The film comes director Neil Marshall, who's trapped in a cave film "The Descent" is one of my favorite films ever, so I had high hopes.. And you know bloody what? The film mostly delivered the hardcore action goods.
Taking place in Northern Britain, the story focuses on the legendary 9th Legion of the Roman army, which is said to have disappeared mysteriously in the region. Basically, as soon as the Legion enters the region the native Picts kill everyone but a few ultra-badass Romans. That few try to make back to the safety of Roman lines, but they are tracked by an ruthless Pictish scout/badass/bond girl. Of course, the Pics are the natives and the Roman's are the invaders, but who cares about which side technically the good guys, when the swords come out. So to summarize, the whole movie is like the opening act of "Gladiator."
The weight of the movie rests on Michael Fassbender's shoulders. He plays the Centurion of the title and he basically ices man people, yells badass dialogue, and frequently stops on mountain tops to look to the north/east/west/south with a serious look. Fassbender, familar to audiences from "Inglorious Basterds" has the acting chops and the physicality here to be very convincing, by the end when he's shooting arrows through people's faces, I thought, hey, I might call Stallone and tell him I found a new action star. And a star he is, his next big role is Magneto, in the upcoming "X-Men: First Class."
If there is one fault to the movie, it's simply that it doesn't have a huge budget. The film is short and the battles while awesome, reek of underlying sense of frugality. With more money, the film could have been more epic, with a longer story, with better defined characters, and a stronger more epic score. However, this is a foreign film on a small budget, so these things are lacking. Low budget or not, it still brings it in the action department, at one point a guy pulls an arrow out of his own head, and then stabs someone in the eye with it, not something for my mother, but something that I certainly enjoyed.