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Sneak peak at Neil Marhsall's Centurion

NeilMarshall.jpgWhile attending the Glasgow Film Festival's Frightfest the audience were treated to a number of surprises, all the deleted scenes from Jake West's Doghouse regardless if we'd seen the film or not, and the biggest surprise of all, the first five minutes of Neil Marshall's next film, Centurion.

He was on hand with a star of the film, and someone seen in the clip, Axelle Carolyn.

I was excited, despite what I thought of Doomsday (Filmstalker review), I loved Dog Soldiers and The Descent (Filmstalker review) and Centurion has the potential to be back to his best.

Just consider that cast, Neil Marshall has gathered names such as Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Noel Clarke, David Morrissey and Ulrich Thomsen. Granted it's sometimes a strange mix, but a strong mix none the less.

The story is based on that famed story of the Ninth Legion of Rome which allegedly marched into Scotland, across the fortified border, and were never seen again marking the withdrawal of Roman soldiers from Britain.

It's a great story and one that Neil Marshall said that the more they investigated the more full of holes and myth-like it became. So what was better than the myth? Centurion. That was something he told us in the short Q&A afterwards, but let's look to what the opening had to tell us.

Now I can't remember the order particularly well, but there is a sequence setting the scene for us by showing a map of Roman dominance, and tells how they were stopped in their tracks by the Picts at the old Scottish border.

Let's skip through the title sequence, which does look cool with the sweeping countryside and rise up through mountains to meet our lead character, Quintus Dias, Michael Fassbender's character, topless, with hands bound, running across snow capped mountains, obviously running from something and for his life. His voice over tells us who he is and that this is neither where the story starts nor finishes.

Then we leap back in time a short while to see him standing atop a fort wall, looking out into the darkness. He is relieved and heads down to the inside of the camp to relax. However he is awoken from his sleep as Picts attack the Roman fort, and we see the first Roman soldier going down rather ungracefully as a weapon is thrust upwards from below to take out his weapon, with the rest of him following suit.

The attack begins and we see one cool kill when a flaming arrow, shot from Aeron's bow, the character Axelle Carolyn plays, strikes him in the back of the head and makes him head-butt the alarm bell.

The Romans rise to repel, and fail. Dias rises and leaps straight into battle with his sword drawn, and after cutting a few people down and rising to the battlements of the fort, he is greeted by a rather large warrior. They fight, and Dias is thrown off the battlements landing atop something that breaks his fall. The Pict leaps down, axe ready, and is about to behead him when he curses him in Pict. He drops the axe, stops Aeron from firing an arrow into him, as she kills a dying Roman casually with an arrow as she passes, and raises him aloft to his face.

Rather than kill him, he says that they must take him with them, head-butts him, and that's our opening.

Oh, how does he know Pict? There's a voice over somewhere in there that tells us his father had told him always to know his enemy, and so the connection is made.

I enjoyed what I saw, but there is a little buzz happening in my head, there's a lot of it that gave the same feel as Doomsday, and not the bad parts of the film, just the style and the feel of the action. So there's a little doubt creeping in my head, but I'm still hopeful.

It looked really well shot and the fight scenes did look pretty cool, a lot slicker than apparently the budget was - he wouldn't tell us the amount but that we'd be surprised. Plus he said that they shot in less time than the alleged re-shoots on some recent Hollywood films, less than eight weeks.

Oh, and he hasn't seen The Descent: Part 2. That's two of us.



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