Thursday, 19 June 2014

“Centurion” on BLU RAY – A Review

"...A Soldier Of Rome Never Yields..." – Centurion on BLU RAY

A cleaved and semi-naked soldier is stumbling across a snowy tundra landscape with both of his hands tied in front of him. Quintus Dias is alone in this hostile terrain (Michael Fassbender) – and running from something far more terrifying than wild wolves eager to dig their teeth into his flesh. He’s trying to outpace a barbarous tribe called The Picts…

We now go to two weeks earlier and Quintus is in full breastplate protective uniform standing on the wooden ramparts of Inch-Tuth-Il – the Northernmost Roman Garrison in Britania 117 AD (close to Scotland). "Even the land wants us dead…" he says ominously as he looks out at the dimly lit night. A few moments later and another guerrilla raid will bring that prophecy to fruition. Soon Quintus is in their midst – face to face with their fearsome Pict leader Gorlacon (Ulrich Thomsen) and then forced to fight a woman more blood-thirsty than a vampire – a Pict warrior called Etain who kills without mercy and doesn’t speak (Olga Kurylenko). 

But Quintus escapes and links up with the legendary Ninth Legion out of York and their leader General Titus (Dominic West) - sent on a final thrust into the Northern Territories by Governor Julius (Paul Freeman) who harbours political ambitions. Betrayed by their supposedly loyal guide – disaster follows in a wood ambush – and soon Etain and her merciless Picts are hunting Quintus and a small band of survivors…

Written and Directed by Neil Marshall in 2008 – "Centurion" did bugger all business at the box office which I think is unfair to it. Sure we’ve been in this slice-and-dice territory before – but here we get great actors like Dominic West (The Wire), Paul Freeman (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Ulrich Thomsen (Fringe and Banshee), Liam Cunningham (Game Of Thrones), Andreas Wisniewski (Die Hard and Mission Impossible) and David Morrissey (Thorne). And under all that muck and facial warpaint - we even get a double whammy of beauties – the "Quantum Of Solace" bond girl Olga Kurylenko - brilliantly cast as a mute female terminator who can smell you on the wind. Countering her is the gorgeous wild-haired Imogen Poots as a healing necromancer/witch – disfigured and cast out into the woods by her own – a wilderness that might just offer Quintus a future away from generals all too willing to sacrifice him and his men in the name of Rome’s glory…

The BLU RAY picture quality is top notch – beautifully filmed on rugged and wild mountain terrain in Autumn and Winter (night and day) to give it that mud-and-blood feel (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1). The Extras are pleasingly comprehensive - full of the actors commenting and joking on set. There's features about Blood and Gore – Stunts - purpose built villages and wooden forts - and the physical difficulty of shooting in some dangerous and inhospitable locations. Audio is English 5.1 DTS Master Audio and English Audio Description 2.0 Stereo - while the lone Subtitle is English For The Hard of Hearing.

"Centurion" wishes it was "Gladiator" and clearly isn’t (what film is). But it's a very entertaining watch and a proper blood-splattered looker on BLU RAY.

Don your Toga boys and get the Daz ready – you’re gonna get down and dirty on this one…

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