Monday, 25 April 2011

Centurion Review

As a big fan of ancient Roman history, I had to watch this movie.  However, there are some inaccuracies that I just cannot get past.  First, it starts by saying it is set in 117 AD.  But they show the building of Hadrian's Wall.  Construction on the wall began in 122 AD.  This error is just plain sloppiness and could have been avoided with two different keystrokes on a computer.  Second, the Roman soldiers slash too much with their swords in hand to hand combat.  The gladius sword was short and used to thrust in hand to hand combat.  Sure, there would be some necessary slashing but not as much as this movie depicts.  Third, any general that wore a purple cloak would have been seen as a usurper by the Emperor and likely done away with.  (Maybe this is why the ninth legion was sent to certain death.)

Anyways, enough of the history lesson.  Let's get down to the movie.  I really like the way it was shot.  The scenery is breathtaking and the cinematography is very solid.  I also like that it was brutally graphic.  I believe it accurately portrays how nasty battle was back then.  The plot line and story for Centurion is also quite good.  There is a lot of speculation as to the fate of the Ninth Legion and destruction at the hands of the Picts seems like a plausible explanation.  In this, it's almost a prequel to the Eagle.  It really is the beginning of that story.  The problem is that I had to rely on my own research to find that out.  It should have been explained at the start.  The average movie goer would not know the history behind it.

Speaking of the Eagle, Centurion is better.  It takes the concept of a historical drama and makes it seem very realistic without going Hollywood with the non-convincing pretty boy flavour of the month in the lead role.  It also doesn't have the dumbed down cheesiness of the Eagle in its writing.  I give credit to the fact that it is an English made movie.  When the English make a historical movie, it tends to be more credible and believable than American ones.

On the down side of Centurion, it kind of grinds to a halt in the middle.  The beginning sets you up for what you think is going to be something akin to Gladiator.  But it just doesn't get there.  Then, it gets good again with about twenty minutes left.  The bottom line is that, at the end, I was glad to have watched it.

So, I'd say see it.  But keep in mind that I would likely give that recommendation to anything that deals with ancient Rome.  I am an aficionado.  Be aware that it is very graphic and never gets as philosophical as it tries to.  But it is decent and worth a look if you come across it.

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