Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Centurion: march to see it in your hundreds
Fassbender and West were both cast as part of the hugely successful Spartan epic '300' in 2006, and it, undoubtedly, is not dissimilar from 'Centurion'. One thing that made '300' what it was, is the almost laughable cliches used throughout; even though they have been replaced with satisfying repartee between the cast, the comfort brought by them in such a rarity of an epic was not lost. Vast landscapes and impressive CGI was replaced by earthy darkness and shakey filming, to create a sense of realism that was, commendably, to the same standard in both films. If this film doesn't gain as wide an audience as '300' did, then an attrocity has been committed.
There was a very graphic sense to the film, created by the use of close-to-the-action filming and very grimey violence. This is something done well in British-made films such as 'Eden Lake' itself, and sets it apart from peers, even including the likes of '300'. 'Centurion' is a UK Film Council production, which has produced some modern, and sometimes timeless, classics; these are titles like 'This Is England' and 'Somers Town', both including the afore-mentioned Thomas Turgoose, and Noel Clarke's cult 'Kidulthood' and 'Adulthood'.In fact, Noel Clarke also takes up a role in 'Centurion' itself.
Although, it is only natural to be prepared for disappointment when the logo is shown in the opening credits, after ventures such as 'The Imagnarium Of Doctor Parnassus'. This was a film with so much promise, directed by Monty Python's Terry Gillian and including the likes of Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and a classic performance as the devil from Tom Waits. The film was unfortunately ruined by the performances of the lead cast, a huge disappointment from the film Ledger actually died in the process of making. As one of the greatest actors of his time, I hope 'The Imagnarium Of Doctor Parnassus' is swiftly omitted from being part of his legacy.
The UK Film Council's occassional let-downs is only more reason, however, to celebrate the triumph that is 'Centurion'. The director, Neil Marshall, made a fantastic job of this warrior epic, with scenes of suspense worthy even of horror films. Fassbender handles these with heart-pumping pleasure, showing why we should all expect to see him in more 'Eden Lake'-esque horrors, and helped no doubt by Marshall's experience directing and writing the suspenseful 'The Descent', something I greatly enjoyed seeing in 2005. Marshall also directed 'Doomsday' in 2008, where he worked with 'Centurion' actress Axelle Carolyn; Carolyn has worked in a few horror films, but I hope this film makes her name. Her performance is one that makes the film what it is to watch.
Perhaps the team behind this film having a background in horrors is something that makes it so successful to watch as an epic, and if it is, then it's a move between genres that I'm looking forward to seeing in the future. 'Centurion' is a warrior epic up to the standards of the international '300', and has a fantastic team behind it, with a fantastic reputation in the best of modern British classics, but it's the experienced horror aspect that makes it worthy of international competition.