The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Magnolia - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Noel Clarke, Liam Cunningham, David Morrissey
Written & Directed by: Neil Marshall
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 2, 2010
"History is written in blood"
AD 117. The Roman Empire stretches from Egypt to Spain, and East as far as the Black Sea. But in northern Britain, the relentless onslaught of conquest has ground to a halt in face of the guerrilla tactics of an elusive enemy: the savage and terrifying Picts. Quintus Dias (Fassbender), sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a Roman frontier fort, marches north with General Virilus' (West) legendary Ninth Legion, under orders to wipe the Picts from the face of the earth and destroy their leader Gorlacon. But when the legion is ambushed on unfamiliar ground, and Virilus taken captive, Quintus faces a desperate struggle to keep his small platoon alive behind enemy lines. Enduring the harsh terrain and evading their remorseless Pict pursuers led by revenge-hungry Pict Warrior Etain (Kurylenko), the band of soldiers race to rescue their General and to reach the safety of the Roman frontier.
Centurion is set during the war between Roman soldiers and Pict tribesmen during the 2nd century Roman conquest of Britain. Michael Fassbender stars as Quintus Dias, Roman centurion and son of a legendary gladiator who leads a group of soldiers on a raid of a Pict camp to rescue a captured general (Dominic West). The son of the Pict leader is murdered during the raid, and the Romans find themselves hunted by a seemingly unstoppable group of the Pict's most vicious and skilled warriors, led by a beautiful and deadly tracker (Olga Kurylenko), and hell bent on revenge.
The film begins with the narration of Quintas Dias briefly explaining his current situation and the circumstances surrounding the conflict which has led to him to this moment. He concludes by stating that this is neither the beginning nor end of his story. The story then flashes back two weeks and quickly roles forward to present. Quintas was taken prisoner by the Pict, an indigenous tribe of Celts, who fought against the invading Romans for 20 years. Quintas escapes and while being tracked by them is saved by the Ninth Roman Legion Army led by General Titus Flavius Virilus. The Army was recently dispatched on a mission to wipeout the Pict in the area. After Quintas joins them they are ambushed which results in the General's capture and the decimation of the Army. Quintas and a small band of soldiers who managed to survive invade the Pict settlement in hopes of freeing the General. Things don't go smoothly which ends with them deep in enemy territory and on the run with a Pict contigent led by Etain, a Pict tracker with uncanny abilities, hot on their trail. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the Roman fort near the frontier. Driven by hate, vengeance, and an insatiable desire that only Roman blood can fulfill Etain won't stop until she eradicates her prey.
I had no previous knowledge of Centurion going into this review but the subject matter and cast looked interesting. The Pict is primarily portrayed as the antagonist in the film, although foul play and treachery isn't above the Romans. I found it easy to empathize with the Pict. I mean after all they were just protecting their country from invasion in the only matter they knew and I appreciated the definitiveness of their message. The primary characters in Quintas, Etain, and to a lesser degree General Titus Flavius Virilus were well developed. Once the Roman's were whittled down to the smaller group that attempts to rescue the General they were better defined although only a few were drawn clearly enough to garner a connection. In films like this where it is obvious that intrinsic characters are going to die I find it important that the audience have some investment in them.
The first two acts are quite good as the plot and characters are plausibly integrated with the narrative. Beyond that it gets derivative as the elements that up until that point had a sensible consistency begin to trail off. At one point it becomes painfully obvious how things will end and the outcome is anticlimactic and diminishes the essence of the first two acts. Prior to that there really is much to like as there is plenty of axe wielding, sword slashing and blood letting action to keep interest going. I liked the cast and especially thought that Michael Fassbender, Dominic West and Olga Kurylenko were solid. Her character is a mute she never utters a word the entire movie, but does an excellent job with managing the integral role of Etain. The film is beautifully shot and features breathtaking cinematography and gorgeous vista views. It would be fair to say that I found more to like than quibble with about Centurion. It isn't perfectly executed from start to finish but the first two acts are compelling and the end although schmaltzy doesn't completely derail it.
The rating is for sequences of strong bloody violence, grisly images and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Centurion comes to Blu-ray from Magnolia HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has average and constant bitrate 6 Mbps.
This high definition presentation has a light grainy and filmic quality that doesn't lend itself to razor sharp clarity and three dimensional quality. This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the films subject matter/time period. The color range is limited to shades of steely blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson and muted sepia tones. Warm accents are used here and there to break up the film's monochromatic essence. Fleshtones hold up well against the de-saturated chroma and don't appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. The use of CGI and green screens softens some elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be overtly distracting.
I found the quality of the video to be high. It isn't always razor sharp but it's cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhanced depth and revealed fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features. Shadow delineation is a bit of a mixed bag which impacts visual penetration in certain scenes while others offers discerning depth of field. I didn't detect any other obvious signs of video related anomalies or artifacts and thought that this encoding looked solid.
This 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA audio presentation features extended dynamics built around a nicely balanced surround mix that sounds great. This isn't what I consider to be an aggressive soundtrack. Dialogue and music play an integral however there are several fairly bombastic battle sequences/engagements that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Bass isn't consistently in the ultra low frequency range but there are moments where it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of the film's action and hits hard. Dialogue is crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character.
* Those with CIH setups should note that the subtitles appear within the picture area.*
- Audio commentary with writer/director Neil Marshall
- 6 deleted scenes with optional commentary
- Outtakes - 6 minutes
- Blood, fire, & fury - Behind the scenes of Centurion (4 featurettes):
- The lost legion - 4 minutes
- Getting down and dirty - 6 minutes
- Guts and gore - 5 minutes
- Fireballs, stunts, and mayhem - 10 minutes
- Interviews with cast/crew - 6 segments
- Behind the scenes footage - 11 minutes
- Photo galleries - Production design
- (HD) HDNET: A look at Centurion - 4 minutes
- BD-Live enabled
- Digital Copy Code/Download
Centurion is a decent action based period film that is better for the total sum of its parts rather than being a completely involving genre piece that engages from end to end. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Home Entertainment sporting 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound, excellent high definition picture quality, and a nice assortment of bonus features that look behind the scenes at the film's production. This is easily worth the cost of a rental so feel free to drop it into your queue and take it for a spin.
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