Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie with Abe: Centurion

Directed by Neil Marshall
Released August 27, 2010

If you’ve seen one of the posters for “Centurion” and wondered if the clever comic book imagery meant that this was an extremely sleek, stylish, animated adventure that might break cinematic ground, think again. This brainless action blockbuster is as trite as they come, attempting to mimic “Gladiator” or the recent “Robin Hood” reboot (basically any Russell Crowe film not set in the present day) and failing miserably. And it’s not as if Michael Fassbender, who turned in masterful performances in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Fish Tank,” is no Russell Crowe. This is a film that flunks purely on its failure to offer anything in the way of either logic or intrigue.

This movie makes a mess of itself only moments after it gets started. After an admittedly energetic and exciting opening sequence, protagonist and centurion Quintus Dias, played by Fassbender, is seen running through a wintery field from his captors. His jagged and uneven escape route is very much indicative of the inanity and senselessness of the film. There’s also an unexplained obsession with gratuitous, entirely unnecessary violence. No body part is spared when it comes to gouging and horrendous, overdone displays of blood and gore are ever-present. What did people do in the olden days? From this film, it appears all they did was thought of gruesome ways of killing each other.

This is the kind of movie that has been made over and over so many times that it seems as if there’s nothing left to tell and nothing left to be discovered. This film follows the “300” model of thin plotting swapped out in favor of a meaningless excess of violence. It’s not merely the same poor interpretation of and representation of history, but also the same style of filmmaking, where stories and characters’ names pale in importance when compared with folklore and legend. A particularly pathetic villain in “Centurion” is Etain, whose horrific dye job is just as frightening as her ability to track the hapless centurions on the run from who knows what. A visit to a local witch is the obvious way to postpone inevitable conflict with this huntress, and therefore the centurions give in to their wildest imaginations in order to attempt to defeat their foes. If this explanation seems like it lacks clarity, that’s because the film is entirely devoid of intelligence. The plot in a nutshell is remarkably and even shockingly simplistic, yet 97 minutes of screen time are wasted trying to tell and make it as violent as (in)humanly possible.


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