Monday night I squeezed into the last seat at Fantastic Fest’s midnight surprise screening of Neil “The Descent” Marshall’s Romans vs. Picts epic Centurion at the Alamo Draft House.
The good news: the movie kept me awake and Michael Fassbender and Dominic West are strong leads as the titular centurion and the general of the ninth legion, respectively. The bad news: the movie is a slightly cheesy period B actioner, rife with bloody, gory slo-mo fighting with squibs of gushing red blood and lopping off of heads. Think Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Only straight.
The men are far stronger than the ancillary action babes in fur and anachronistic hair and make-up. Think Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. Fassbender’s girl-interest sub-plot is plain silly.
At the Q & A, Marshall, a tall beefy Brit, said he was curious about the missing Roman ninth legion. He’s been working on this project for years. It’s coincidence that The Eagle of the Ninth is also coming out. He wanted to get the brutal violence of Picts vs. Roman warfare on screen. No holds barred. He clearly revels in talking about guts and gore, as did gushing AICN questioner Harry Knowles: “It floats my boat down the Amazon,” he said.
Both West and Fassbender had auditioned for Doomsday, and Marshall wanted to work with them on this Pathe/Warner Bros. funded production.