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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Swords > History > Battles > Armies > War > Crusades > Slavery > Centurion (2009/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray) + Valhalla Rising (2009/IFC/MPI DVD)

Centurion (2009/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray) + Valhalla Rising (2009/IFC/MPI DVD)


Picture: B-/C+     Sound: B/B-     Extras: C/C-     Films: C



We next 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.


Neil 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.


As well 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.


Nicolas Winding 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.


The 1080p 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 advantage of.


Extras on 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


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