Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Centurion - DVD Review

In a FILMblog first I have returned to a film reviewed earlier this year. Has time been kind to Neil Marshall's Roman epic?

When I originally reviewed Centurion earlier this year (here!), my main problem above all else was the film’s overall lack of cohesion. Poor editing resulted in a somewhat unfinished movie; however I enjoyed it enough not to write it off completely.

I often proposed if the audience would perhaps benefit from being subjected to a DVD release of an extended cut to give the character’s more time to breathe on screen. This course of action may have elevated the feature from simply being ‘alright’ into something very cool and stylish.

Unfortunately Neil Marshall’s film, set around the legendary Roman Ninth Legion, wasn’t given the ‘director’s cut’ treatment and we’re still faced with the problems which brought the feature down in the first place.

More general movie goers could rightly argue a film like Centurion doesn’t need to be bogged down in the bothersome burdens of well rounded characters and a multi-layered plot. It’s also OK to simply be just an exercise in aggression similar to Zack Snyder’s 300. Which is a fair enough comment, but Centurion very much lacks the iconic graphic novel imagery and quotable geekery which will be forever associated with Snyder’s excellent film.

This is a genuine shame as the movie sports a genuinely fantastic cast, featuring some of the hardest working and most under-rated cinematic talent about at the moment. Michael Fassbender’s leading turn was merely a taste of what’s to come for the ever-versatile actor.

Dominic West’s performance still retained the substantial presence and rebellious charm which was often attributed to his starring role in TV’s The Wire. While the likes of Noel Clarke and David Morrissy added much needed depth and quality to the supporting cast – especially as Olga Kurylenko failed to inspire any kind of emotion as the film’s leading antagonist.

With Neil Marshall being an expert in the art of sheer brutality – previous films include The Descent and Dog Soldiers – he delivers plentiful with much more grit than what we have seen in similar features such as Ridley Scott’s award-winning, Gladiator.

The DVD release however does sport a, pleasantly surprising, range of special features, such as more light-hearted outtakes and a 30 minute documentary on the making of the film – which once again shows the people working on this film cared about the movie they were making. Yet unfortunately through a mixture of technical difficulties and quite possibly budgetary constraints the movie they probably wanted to make failed to materialise.

The deleted scenes also gave a fading glimpse into a film which could have been more – albeit not much more – than merely a festival of brutal violence and gore.

It’s not a complete loss though, still contains well constructed, compelling action pieces and glossy camerawork which will come out beautifully in any Blu-Ray presentation of the film.

Final Thoughts
My revisit of Neil Marshall’s historical mishmash of Roman and Celtic brutality is still full of the bittersweet disappointment I felt when originally seeing it in the cinema. However, if character development and a general lack of cohesion isn’t something you are overly concerned it’s still very watchable. There’s probably a lot of DVDs which are much worse you could waste your money on. Unfortunately for Centurion – and despite its array of extras – there’s a great deal far better also.

Film: 3/5

Special Features: 4/5

See this if you liked...
Gladiator and 300

Centurion will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in all good stores on August 16th 2010.


Olive said...

I missed this one in the cinema, unfortunately it had such a short release, it disappeared before I even noticed it was there. I think I might still check it out on DVD, as am a bit of a Fassbender fan.

rtm said...

I'll see this movie ONLY for Fassbender, he is so versatile and oh so easy on the eye :) I posted the trailer a while ago and thought the Olga Kurylenko was major meh, but hey I didn't know David Morrissey is in this, I kinda like the guy (VERY under-appreciated IMO). Unfortunately the dvd isn't available on Netflix yet, and no idea when it will :(

Andrew Moore said...

@RTM, don't think it has even had a cinematic release in the states yet? Or just coming out.

@Olive Its certainly worth seeing, just felt like it was playing with the handbreak on. I wanted more!?!

Fassbender still rules.