(2009/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray) + Valhalla
Rising (2009/IFC/MPI DVD)
B-/C+ Sound: B/B- Extras: C/C- Films: C
look at two films set centuries ago by two directors who would seem to be on
the cutting edge by not shying away from violence and being from an independent
side of filmmaking, but despite their talents and ambitions, that does not mean
their films are guaranteed to turn out well.
Marshall’s Centurion (2009) has the
Picts resisting The Roman Empire (circa 117 A.D.) as Marshall (who once again
wrote the screenplay) is interested in the theme of the battle between two not
necessarily matched tribes fighting.
Centurion Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbinder, the new Magneto, as well as
from Inglorious Basterds and 300, which ushered in one of the worst
cycles of such films in a long time) survived a Pict attack and not only want
revenge, but may think he has an edge on the enemy. Assisted by General Virilus (Dominic West of The Forgotten and musical Chicago), they find they are going to
get more than they bargained for.
done as this is, Marshall
is sadly repeating himself, especially after the mixed results of
Doomsday. It seems he has something to
say, but cannot get it out of his system after four films. This is as problematic as the last film and
I look forward to seeing him change gears.
Now I see why this took so long to get the U.S. shores. Olga Kurylenko (Quantum Of Solace), Noel Clarke, David Morrissey and Liam
Cunningham also star.
Refn’s Valhalla Rising (2009) is set
in 1000, A.D. and features Mads Mikkelsen (Casino
Royale) as fighter One Eye, who has to fight to the death for his owners. Refn’s follow-up to Bronson (2009) continues his examination of the brute force of a tough
male outsider in an ugly society, even if this one takes place during The
Crusades, which will play a key role in the story here. Though it has some good acting and moments,
it is everything we have seen before and the gutted color among other aspects
of its clichéd look is a step backwards after Bronson.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Centurion
is stylized down to be drained of color and that does not help the definition,
offers motion blur throughout and is underwhelming despite being shot in Super
35mm film format. That’s a shame because
he is rejoined by his Director of Photography Sam McCurdy (Dog Soldiers, Doomsday)
and they have been more original before.
The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is the highlight of both
releases with a rich, consistent soundfield, good LFE and is well recorded
enough. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35
X 1 image on Valhalla
is degraded and intentionally has its color gutted, plus was shot in HD, so it
is soft, but stylized. The problem is
that we have seen this look to death and it does not help, nor is it as good as
Bronson. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has a fair
soundfield, but is also silent and the mix is not always as good as it could be
even considering that as it seems like the channels are not taken full
Centurion includes two behind the
scenes featurettes, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes with commentary, Cast/Crew
Interviews, Photo Galleries, HDNet look at the film and feature length audio
commentary by Marshall and his crew. Valhalla only offers
a theatrical trailer.
- Nicholas Sheffo