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#SXSW: Gore-Epic Centurion Makes World Debut

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 16, 2010 at 5:28AM

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.
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Thompson on Hollywood

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.

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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.

Magnolia has high hopes for this movie, which will go out via VOD. Here's my

This article is related to: Festivals, Reviews, Independents, Genres, SXSW, Action, Magnolia


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.