Playing Catch-Up: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (dir by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone)


Have you heard of Conner4Real?

If you haven’t, you’re probably just old or else you don’t keep up with what’s happening in the world of popular music.  His real name is Conner Friel and he used to be a member of the Style Boyz.  Of course, the Style Boyz eventually broke up.  Kid Brain became a farmer.  Kid Contact became a DJ.  And Kid Conner — well, he became Conner4Real and he became a bigger star as a solo artist than he ever was as a Style Boy.  His debut album, Thriller, Also, broke records.

But the follow-up, Connquest … well, Connquest wasn’t quite as acclaimed.  In fact, it was hated by just about everyone.  This is despite featuring classic songs like:

Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)

Mona Lisa

and Equal Rights (featuring P!nk).

Fortunately, when Conner4Real was facing his greatest existential crisis, a film crew was present to record his struggle.  For those of us who were fascinated by the career of Conner4Real, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a chance to see how Conner dealt with everything from his terminally ill pet turtle to the elaborate marriage proposal ceremony that led to Seal being attacked by wild wolves.  We would have gotten to see Conner and his manager defeat a swarm of mutant bees but, unfortunately, that happened right after the only time that Conner’s manager asked the film crew to stop filming.

Oh well, these things happen.

So, as you should have guessed from all that, Popstar is not a serious film.  It’s a mockumentary, with the emphasis on mock.  It was also one of the funniest films of 2016, a spot-on parody of the silliness and pretensions of fame.  Conner is a combination of Justin Bieber and Macklemore at their shallowest, a well-meaning but thoroughly empty-headed singer.  In fact, if Conner was played by anyone other than Andy Samberg, he would be so annoying that the film would run the risk of being unwatchable.

But fortunately, Conner is played by Andy Samberg.  It’s hard to think of anyone who plays dumb with quite the same panache as Andy Samberg does.  There are plenty of lines in Popstar that shouldn’t work but they do, specifically because they’re being delivered by Samberg.  He brings just the right amount of sweetly sincere stupidity to the role.  Almost despite yourself, you find yourself hoping that things will work out for Conner and the other Style Boyz.  Conner may not deserve to be as big a star as he is but it was obviously going to happen to some idiot so why not a sincere one?

Samberg is not the only funny person in Popstar.  The movie is full of funny people, from Sarah Silverman to Bill Hader to the always underrated Tim Meadows.  It’s also full of celebrity cameos and I have to admit that I usually tend to cringe when I see too many people playing themselves.  But in Popstar, it works.  One need only rewatch something like Zoolander 2 to see how well Popstar pulls off its celebrity cameos.

Sadly, as funny as Popstar was, it was also one of the biggest bombs of 2016.  (The trailer, it must be said, did not do the film justice.)  However, I expect that it will soon develop a strong cult following.  In a few years, we’ll get a sequel.  It probably won’t be as as good.

Oh well.  These things happen.

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Green Room (dir by Jeremy Saulnier)


greenroom5

Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is one of the best films of the year but I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to bring myself to watch it a second time.

Why?

There’s two reasons:

Number one, Green Room is one of the most intense films that I’ve ever seen.  Much like Saulnier’s previous film, Blue Ruin, this is a violent movie that never makes violence look fun.  The violence here is all too real and the pain that the characters feel is all too real as well.  I watched a good deal of Green Room through my fingers, hiding my face behind my hands.  Seriously, I’ve seen some pretty gory movies.  (I’m an unapologetic fan of Italian horror, after all.)  But Green Room still left me shaken.  Occasionally, it even left me gasping for breath.  It’s just that intense.  It’s a film about four people battling for survival and I’m surprised (and a little proud) that I survived all the way to the end.

The other reason is that the film stars Anton Yelchin.  It was one of the final films that he made before his death and he gives such a likable and committed performance that it’s impossible for me to think about the film without getting a little emotional.  Far more than his supporting work in the Star Trek films, Green Room showcased what a good actor Anton Yelchin truly was.  It’s impossible for me to think about Green Room without mourning a talent taken from us far too soon.  And though it might be difficult to watch the film a second time, everyone should watch Green Room at least once.  If you ever wonder why some of us still get emotional when we talk about Anton Yelchin, it’s all there in the movie.

In Green Room, Yelchin plays Pat.  Pat is the bass player for a punk band called the Ain’t Rights.  The Ain’t Rights have been touring the northern part of the country.  It’s a low-budget tour, one that perfectly reflects that anti-corporate politics of the Ain’t Rights.  For them, the tour means crashing with friends, siphoning gasoline, and doing interviews with underground radio stations.  In fact, one interviewer — the rather dorky Tad (David W. Thompson) — arranges for them to do a show at an isolated bar in Oregon.  Tad tells them that the bar attracts a rough crowd but that they’ll be okay because his cousin Daniel (Blue Ruin‘s Macon Blair) works there.

The Ain’t Rights arrive and discover that the club appears to have a clientele that is exclusively made up of Neo-Nazi skinheads.  After some hesitation, the Ain’t Rights take the stage and, for a few brief moments, Saulnier shows them performing in slow motion and those of us in the film’s audience — even someone like me, who would probably otherwise never listen to a band like the Ain’t Rights — are briefly caught up in the joy and excitement of their performance.

Unfortunately, while the band is performing, the Nazis are busy murdering a woman in the green room.  And, after the band walks in on the aftermath of the murder, they soon find themselves marked for death as well.  The band is smart enough to lock themselves in the green room and to take one of the Nazis as a hostage.  However, they know that they can’t stay in that room forever.  At some point, they’re going to have to figure out how to escape from the bar…

Green Room is a harrowing and violent film, one that maintains an almost feverish intensity from start to end.  Making it all the more difficult to watch is that Saulnier keeps the horror rooted in reality.  The Neo-Nazis never turn into cardboard movie slashers.  Instead, they are a very real and disturbing threat.  (It’s interesting to note that occasionally, a Neo-Nazis will express some doubt about killing the band but none of them have the courage to actually refuse any of the orders that they receive.  We often hear that people need to respect authority.  Well, Green Room shows what happens when people blindly respect authority to the extent that they can no longer think for themselves.)  Though the film may be violent, it never celebrates that violence and when one character does get a chunk of arm chopped off, it’s literally one of the most painful images to ever be captured on film.  You like every member of the band so, when they get hurt, you feel their pain as well.  Though Yelchin may be the main character, the other members of the Ain’t Rights — played by Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner — all make a good impression as well.  You want them all to escape and dread the realization that not all of them will.

As for the owner of the club, his name is Darcy and he’s played by Patrick Stewart.  At first, it may sound like stunt casting.  Patrick Stewart as a Neo-Nazi?  But interestingly enough, Darcy doesn’t really seem to care about ideology.  Instead, you get the feeling that he realized that there was money to be made by catering to racists so that’s what he decided to do.  When he barks out orders and demands that the members of the band be killed, his main motivation seems to be pure greed.  If the band escapes and reports the murder, he’ll lose his club.  Stewart gives a chilling performance.  When he first appears, you do think, “Hey, it’s Patrick Stewart!”  But, within minutes, you forget who is playing him.  He becomes Darcy and you’re scared to death of him and his followers.

Green Room is an incredibly intense and scary film.  It also features perhaps the best performance of Anton Yelchin’s career.  Green Room stands as a testament to a talent taken too early.

(On a purely personal note: I’m glad that Green Room took place in Oregon.  Too often, movies tend to portray racism as being an exclusively Southern issue, one that somehow magically disappears once you head up north.  It often feels as if people spend so much time talking about racism in other states that they fail to actually look at what’s happening in their own backyard.  It’s easier to laugh at a state like Alabama than to ask why someone like Eric Garner died on the streets of New York City.  Racism is an American issue, and that includes the states both below and above the Mason-Dixon line.)

patrick-stewart

Quick Review: Need for Speed (dir. by Scott Waugh)


Need_For_Speed_New_Oficial_Poster_JPostersMy Short Take on Need for Speed –

Reasons to see it:

+ Fast cars doing interesting stunts that don’t feel like a CGI stunt reel. Take the Mustang chase from Drive and stretch it out.

+ It’s a tightly shot film. The chances of saying “Come on, go somewhere.” Are small and the driving camera work does its best to invoke a sense of being in the scene.

+ Imogen Poots steals practically every scene she’s in, and the cast overall seemed to enjoy themselves. Michael Keaton may be the most animated he’s been since Beetlejuice. Aaron Paul sounds like a mix between Charlie Hunnam and Solid Snake.

Reasons to hold off for now:

– It’s not the tightest story in the world. You’ll probably be able to easily call out plot angles as the movie progresses. There is also one scene in the film that never connects to anything after it, leaving something of a hole there. Overall, the film gives you just enough to understand why everyone’s doing what they’re doing, but don’t search for a whole lot of character growth here.

– The Air support moments seem a little implausible, given air traffic rules and what not.

The Long Take: 

Ever since The Fast and The Furious hit the big screen in 2001, you’ve had a number of race related movies. I think the worst I can recall was 2007’s Redline, which tried to throw some wild extortion theme into the mix. The movie adaptation for Need for Speed may actually be a better movie than some of Electronic Arts’ games. It may not be Hamlet, but it handles itself just fine.

The premise for Need for Speed is very simple. A young racer (Aaron Paul, whose voice sounds he’s channelling Sons of Anarchy’s Jax Teller) seeks vengeance against a former business partner (Dominic Cooper, Howard Stark from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) by way of a dangerous high speed race known as the Deleon. He assembles a team of friends, and goes about trying to reach his goal. There you go, all you need. It might sound as bad as this year’s Robocop, but at least the audience laughed along with this one.

Although many know Aaron Paul from his Emmy winning run on Breaking Bad, but he isn’t new to movies. He’s had a great turn in Smashed with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and worked previously with co-star Imogen Poots on The Long Way Down. Here in Need for Speed, I felt he did really well with what was given as racer Tobey Marshall, granted that it wasn’t a whole lot. Still, he sells it as best he can. Poots, on the other hand is as much the bright light in the film as Hayley Atwell was in Captain America: The First Avenger. Overall, the casting was okay here. Dominic Cooper plays the rival role well, though doesn’t come off as sinister in any way and Michael Keaton seems to enjoy himself in this as the host of the Deleon, a high stakes private race. He channels his inner Beetlejuice and is one of the high points of the film. Between he and Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi to those who know him musically), they have the best scenes apart from the main cast.

The car scenes themselves are okay. You may find yourself leaning back in your seat in some instances, but they don’t quite have the tight feel of say Ronin. Still, you won’t see anything happen in these cars that go beyond the extreme. Truth be told, it’s almost similar to the first Fast and the Furious, save for all the wavy speed lines in the high speed chases. One of the remarkable things about Need for Speed is that it tries its best to avoid throwing too many CGI driving moments. It has a feel that’s similar to Tarantino’s Death Proof or, as the film highlights in the beginning of the movie, Bullitt. This being only his second major film (Act of Valor being the first), Director Scott Waugh gets away with making the racing moments as intense as they can be without getting too crazy…well, almost. It’s cut quick, and there are very few lag scenes as far as I could notice.

If the movie has any bad points, it’s that almost everything happens in a bubble. The plot has someone who is effectively on the run, and yet I would have imagined there’d be more of a police presence, especially given the exposure. Then again, this is Need for Speed, where you only need to avoid the cops or 2 minutes before being given the chance to hide in a cooldown zone (in NFS: Most Wanted, anyway). Fans of the games will see some of those elements in play during the film and they are functional here, if not realistic.

Additionally, there’s one other scene that involves the recruiting of a reluctant team member that goes almost no where. The reason for bringing the person along (having to do with a car issue) never appears to be addressed either visually or verbally. This left me asking, “Well, was it fixed?” and then shaking my head later on. It’s not a terrible mistake to have while munching on popcorn ( you won’t choke for not getting an answer), but someone really could have taken the time to dot that particular “i” on George Gatins’ script.

Overall, Need for Speed is a fun ride. It’s predictable in a lot of ways, and you’ll see some of it coming, but you may also find yourself smiling and swerving in your seats with the traffic.

Horror Review: 28 Weeks Later (dir. by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)


Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s 28 Days Later was done in such a way that a sequel was almost bound to fail. Their film was a horror film through and through, but it was really also an exercise in experimental filmmaking. Any film that was to follow it up will have to contend with the cool factor of not just a twist on the zombie theme (even though they’re not really zombies) but the choice in music and look of the film. All I can say is that 28 Weeks Later doesn’t disappoint and even surpasses the original film in certain aspects.

Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo does a great job of trying to stick to the premise begun by Boyle and Garland in 28 Days Later while adding his own signature to the sequel. The film begins with a scene which encapsulates what someone who never saw the original film needs to know about what to expect with this follow-up. We’re introduced to Don (played by a gaunt and haunted Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack) trying to survive with several others at their English countryside cottage just outside London during the first couple weeks of the Rage-virus outbreak. This prologue shows just how tenuous any form of safe haven could be once sentimentality overrides the primal instinct for self-preservation. Don was given a choice of choosing sentimentality to try and save someone he cares about and maybe die in the process or follow the basic need for self-preservation in time of extreme danger and distress. Don picks the latter and we’re shown how horrible his choice was but at the same time how plausible a decision it was when put into context. If we were put in a similar situation could we honestly say that we wouldn’t had made the same choice which Don took. The scene with Don running across the open field with dozens upon dozens of Rage-infected people chasing after him was quite chilling.

The film goes through an introductory credit sequence explaining the timeline since Don’s escape from the cottage. We’re told that the British Isle was quickly quarantined once authorities saw how futile it was to try and save it from the ravages of Rage in the first couple weeks. Following-up on the final scenes in the original film, we now know that those infected by Rage would soon die out due to starvation and that 28 weeks after the first sign of outbreak the world outside of the British Isles have decided that it was now time to clean out the last vestiges of Rage-infected victims who haven’t starved to death and begin reconstruction and repopulation of the country. The U.S.-led NATO force in charge of this monumental project would led by U.S. Army general Stone (The Wire‘s excellent Idris Elba) and have cordoned off a safe sanctuary in London’s Isle of Dogs where British citizens who escaped the initial outbreak or were outside the country when it all began would be housed in while London was slowly sanitized.

Its where Don has been sent and given a job as a manager helping with getting London back on its feet. We’re shown the arrival of Don’s two children who were safely abroad in Spain when the outbreak first hit England. Their reunion is heartfelt though bittersweet as Don must answer his children’s questions about what happened to their mother. Let’s just say that Don’s explanation doesn’t exactly match how the opening scenes played out. Tammy and Andy (played by Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton) take his answers at face value but still end up sneaking out of the protected Green Zone to get to their old cottage to pick-up some items of sentimental value. This was one of the few sequences of the film which seemed to stretch believability and made me realize that once again a horror film ended up with some characters doing dumb things that would lead to nothing but death and destruction. What the two kids find once they get to the cottage marks the beginning of re-infection and the extreme policies enacted by the military to contain the problem. But containment doesn’t hold and soon enough a Code Red order is given to all military personnel.

It’s once the Code Red was given that the film began to mirror the U.S. government policies and tactics in their War against Terror, especially in Iraq. While I do not prescribe to this notion, Frescadillo handled the situation well. I say I do not prescribe to the notion that the second-half of the movie was a direct condemnation of U.S. war against terror and occupation of Iraq, because it’s a theme in apocalyptic movies that’s been used before there was a war on terror. It’s in this second-half where 28 Weeks Later reminded me a lot of George A. Romero’s underappreciated horror film, The Crazies. Just like in that film, the military in 28 Weeks Later don’t seem to be heartless about their reaction to the new outbreak and break of containment. Instead their overreaction to the whole deteriorating situation looks to be born more out of desperation and an inability to comprehend the best and most humane way to combat the crisis. As it’s always mentioned in other forms of fiction, the military’s a blunt instrument and never a subtle one. The Rage infection and those infected seem to only be stopped when using the most blunt procedures and tactics, but such ways also have a tendency to cause much collateral damage to the very people they’ve been tasked to protect.

28 Weeks Later was much more epic in scope than 28 Days Later and it’s in that which it surpasses the original film. While the first film was more about the lives of two disparating groups of survivors and how both groups’ attempts to survive shows how quickly one could fall from civilized behavior while another continues to hold on to it, the sequel shows that in the end even people with the best of intentions would succumb to the basic instinct of survival using all and any means necessary. The established shots of London overhead and down on the ground empty and lifeless really brings the apocalyptic nature of the movie with the force of a sledgehammer. These scenes followed up with the firebombing of Canary Wharf really highlights just how much more grimmer and nihilistic in tone and scope Fresnadillo’s sequel over Boyle’s more hopeful one. It’s quite a surprise that its the actions of the youngest and most innocent (as children are usually protrayed in horror movies) which causes a new cycle of outbreak and ultimately the fall of the attempt to bring normalcy back to the British Isles.

I would say that — even though the movie doesn’t really involve zombies but zombie-like people — 28 Weeks Later actually resembles George A. Romero’s Living Dead films more than Boyle’s 28 Days Later. While Boyle’s film took some of its basic themes from Romero’s work, he still didn’t go far enough. Fresnadillo took the theme of humanity being more dangerous than the Rage-infected ones during the original film’s third act and expands on it with 28 Weeks Later. There’s a deep sense of pessimism and cutthroat survival instincts inherent in the film’s themes. The only form of humanity to be seen actually comes from the same Americans whose attempts of reconstruction ends up an exercise in total annihilation of the problem even if it includes the innocent being destroyed in the process.

As a sequel to 28 Days Later, Fresnadillo’s film shared some stylistic and thematic qualities with the original film, but ends up becoming a wholly independent work (one could watch this sequel without having seen the original and still understand what was going on). Where the original film only touches the surface of the Rage virus doomsday effect on the British Isles and its population, 28 Weeks Later ceases that basic notion and gives the viewer a first-hand look at its aftermath and, later on, how it looks when an outbreak occurs in an area packed with survivors. For a fan of Romero’s classic zombie epics I do prefer Fresnadillo’s work and the look of his film over the original one, but he does sacrifice some level of characterization to keep the film’s tone and frenetic pacing in the latter-half from being bogged down. The film ends on a really downbeat note even as survivors make it to safety. This film really becomes an exercise in nihilism more than what Danny Boyle and Alex Garland were willing to do with the original film.

In the end, 28 Weeks Later brings over enough of what made the first film a hit with audiences and even surpasses the original in certain aspects. The acting was actually very good despite some characters not being fleshed-out more thoroughly, but I find this understandable to keep the frantic pace of the film from start to finish from being slowed down. For fans of the first film I don’t think this sequel will be a disappointment. This film might not reach the same creative heights for some fans but it surely won’t ruin the experience of having seen the original. The film also introduces a new face to the genre world with the excellent work turned in by Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. The film even has a final brief sequence which leaves open the possibility of a third film and I don’t think fans of the first two would mind that at all.

Quick Review: Fright Night (dir. by Craig Gillespie)


I want to say great things about Craig Gillespie’s remake of Fright Night. I want to say that it was worth seeing and it was full of awesome moments. I also wanted to be able to write this review without making so many comparisons to the 1985 Original by Tom Holland. Not that the original was a masterpiece by any means, but I dozed off (just a little) on this film.

If there’s only one reason I could give for recommending Fright Night, it would be to get a taste of what Vampires should be. Don’t read me wrong on this. I own all four Twilight books in hardcover, read them repeatedly, and have seen the three films that came out in the theatre. It’s just nice to see a vampire movie that shows vampires more as predatory creatures than sparkling A&F models.  There’s an edge to this film that’s pretty fun in a lot of ways. Both Colin Farrell and David Tennant have great roles here and even Anton Yelchin holds his own, but there’s a weird breakdown that happens. Fright Night is a good film, as long as you don’t try to make any kind of direct comparisons to the source material.

The story focuses on Charlie Brewster (Yelchin), a teenager – the story being in Vegas this time –  who discovers he has a vampire named Jerry Dandrige (Farrell) living next door to him. When the vampire confronts Charlie, Charlie is forced to seek out help in the form of Peter Vincent (Tennant) to defeat him. While there were a few scenes that really stood out for me and I found myself smiling more often than rolling my eyes, the pacing of this was off. Other audiences may find that the movie moved well. I felt like they were just throwing things to say “Well, wouldn’t it be cool if they did this, and then that.”

The two problems I had with Fright Night were it’s pacing and Chris Mintz-Plasse. Chris is fun to watch at the start, and I’d love to see him do more, but someone really has to give him something where he’s not playing the “token geek”.  While I liked the movie overall, there’s a lot of verbal exposition in the beginning of the film, as Charlie doesn’t so much discover the truth about Jerry, but is pretty much told the entire scenario he’s in about 15 minutes into the start. I had a problem with that. Again, depending on the audience, the movie may move just fine.

Fright Night is one of those films could be a love it or hate it. I’m of the audience that will probably catch it again when it’s out on video, but it doesn’t feel like anything you really have to rush to the theatre for.

Quickie Review: Centurion (dir. by Neil Marshall)


I’ll outright say and admit that one of my favorite filmmakers has to be British-filmmaker Neil Marshall who burst into the scene almost a decade ago with his genre mash-up werewolf film, Dog Soldiers. Since then he has come out with a film every couple years which follows what’s becoming a trademark style of his.He would take a well-worn and used genre and mash it together with a few others to create a film that’s wholly his own. He did this with his follow-up films in The Descent and Doomsday. Now it’s 2010 and we have his latest film and it follows his usual style. Centurion is an adventure, chase and men on a mission film that doesn’t reinvent the genres it’s smashing together but instead embraces their traditions and creates a rip-roaring yarn which moves at a frenetic pace with characters who grow and expose their motivations as the film progresses to it’s bittersweet finale.

Neil Marshall will always be known to fanboys and the action crowd even if the elites of the film industry continues to dismiss the man as nothing more than competent filmmaker. In Centurion he shows that he could work within a traditional sword and sandal story and still show his signature style. We have it’s main character of Roman centurion Quintus Dias (played with a subdued and introspective seriousness by Michael Fassbender) who gets captured by the Picts of Britain during Rome’s occupation of the island. Unlike most Romans captured by the guerilla-warfare conducting Picts, Quintus has learned to speak Pict thus has become a valuable capture. But his loyalty to his Empire and its people dashes the hopes of the Picts ever learning anything from Quintus and decides to play some sport with him as the hunted prey.

It’s during the hunt for Quintus by a band of Pict warriors that he stumbles upon the Roman Ninth Legion led by General Titus Flavius Virilus (Dominic West). Once freed from his captors and hunters, Quintus is more than happy to rejoin his fellow Roman centurions in their hunt to once and for all destroy Pict leader Gorlacon (Urlich Thomsen) and his Pict army. To aid them in their search for this enemy army is the mute Brigantes scout, Etain (played with silent fury by Olga Kurylenko), who knows the lands where the Picts hide and do their hit-and-run raids.

It’s once the whole Ninth Legion has been led into the thick forests by Etain that the trap was sprung with Etain herself the catalyst for what amounts to as the massacre of the Legion. It’s this event which Marshall in his own way tries to explain one of history’s mysteries: The mysterious fate of the Roman Ninth Legion. Historians have never agreed as to why the Legion disappeared from Roman and historical records and Marshall’s film is one theory.

The rest of the film has the handful of the Legion who has survived trying, at first, to free their general from Pict captivity and when that mission fails with deadly results the remaining men who has chosen to follow Quintus try to make a run back to Roman lines. On their heels like a she-wolf leading a pack of wolves is Etain whose thirst for vengeance for what the Romans did to her (raped her as a young child and cut out her tongue in addition to wiping out her family and tribe) pushes her to get these Romans with near-supernatural drive. It’s rare to find a film where the main villain is a woman, but one whose abilities surpasses that of the men she’s hunting and whose motivations make her more than a tad sympathetic to her cause.

Centurion does action well with sequences involving a jump off of a steep cliff and into the river below to last stand inside an abandoned Roman fort. Marshall knows how to stage and shoot these scenes so we never lose sight of where the participants are. Most filmmakers nowadays try to hide their inability to choreography action sequences by using quick cut editing, hand-held camera jittery viewpoints and, at times, just shooting it from a distance. Neil Marshall doesn’t do anyone of these gimmicks and tricks which just shows that while his hybrid style in terms of storytelling might be new and refreshing he still embraces the traditional ways if it serves his films properly.

The acting in this film was quite good from not just its leads in Fassbender and Kurylenko but from everyone. This film’s ensemble cast includes veteran British actors just as Liam Cunningham, Paul Freeman and David Morrissey. Other supporting players such as Imogen Poots, Urlich Thomsen and Dominic West do a great job in the limited roles they’re given. The fact that Kurylenko utters not one word in her scenes yet commands each and everyone she’s in shows just how well Marshall can direct not just action pieces but how to direct his actors in doing their jobs.

This film doesn’t do anything to reinvent the action genre that is it’s foundation, but what it does is show that action films sometimes could be just as good when it’s filmmaker leans on practices from traditions past. Outside of the CGI-blood used to show the brutality of the fights and deaths this film is quite lacking in the CG department. Shot on location in the highlands of Scotland and studios near and around London, Centurion is quite a throwback to the sword and sandal films which dominated the film industry during the late 50’s and most of the 60’s. Marshall’s latest will not win any mainstream awards, but the genre crowd will definitely embrace it as something that will entertain and thus welcome it with cult status.