Neil Marshall’s attempted portrayal of the popular legend of the disappearance of the roman Ninth Legion is a tedious and predictable affair, which seems all too focused on splurting out CGI blood, than on captivating the thrill of the hunt and the adrenaline of the chase
In this version of the myth the entire Legion gets massacred by the Picts, whilst trying to capture their leader Gorlacon (Ulrish Thomsen). Ambushed they are swiftly cut down with only a handful of men surviving.
Led by Centurion Quintus Dias they aim to escape from Pict territory in an attempt to return home. Unfortunately for them the Pict’s vengeance knows no bound and they are followed by the beautiful and deadly mute Etain (Olga Kurylenko).
The spectacular fail of this movie largely lies in the general misdirection. And this despite the actors, who are almost unanimously spot on and without any fault. Michael Fassbender especially has an unbelievable screen presence, which seems to make him destined for international film glory. Nonetheless the characters lack background and focus making the whole affair of their deaths rather disengaging.
Warning signs can be caught very early on in the movie, as the historical drama starts off with eagle-eye landscapes of Northern Scotland with humongous corny credits overshadowing the pictures.
Than we are treated with a mindgulfingly useless opening scene, where we see a lone man escaping through the mountains coupled with an appallingly daft voice-over (which gets even worse as the movie plods on). After this the movie moves back in time two weeks to ‘where this all started’, only to be back in the mountains scene within 10 minutes of the film (making the whole opening sequence superfluous).
In the meantime we get a bloody visceral fight, where Picts slaughter a Roman stronghold with extremely red CGI blood splattering left and right.
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Naturally the above is just nitpicking, but the movie is a chaotic mess of some inspired scenes overshadowed by overall crappiness and very bad scripting. Something that not even the brilliance of Fassbender or the beauty of Kurylenko can overshadow.
Not exactly knowing if this is a survival thriller, a historical drama or basically a glorious opportunity to hand out some in-your-face carnage the movie is all over the place. My standout scene of badness would have to be finding out that this is no ordinary band of survivors, but a band of unwilling supermen with a Greek cook with remarkable killing skills taking the cake.
A close second would have to be a tribute to “Return of the King” with the group of legionnaires running on foot for several days straight with almost no food or rest putting to shame all the modern day marathon runners…
Surprisingly the movie is also unable to instill any sense of urgency or dread, although we have a group of people on foot escaping horsemen. Theorethically we know they are being chased, but Marshall can never seem to suggest scenes that start the blood pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat.
Its quite a terrible achievement to shoot a movie about survival, but never being able to create an atmosphere of impeding death. Surprising given this is the same man who made the gripping “Descent”.
Just to be brutally frank I was also taken aback with Hadrian’s Wall showing up in the final minutes of the movie, whilst the film is supposedly set in 117 AD.
After the absolute (albeit enjoyable) muddle that was “Doomsday” Neil Marshall craps out a real turd and seems to be on a downhill spiral, which hopefully will force him to get back to the basics.
Source: p-stepien -imdb