I was a huge fan of Neil Marshall back in the day. Dog Soldiers is the perfect movie for its type. The kind of ridiculous but slightly aware of it, slasher horror movie and is entertaining as hell. The Descent was flat-out one of the best horror movies of the decade and Marshall had officially become the best maker of movies where people die one at a time in increasingly awesome ways. But then he made Doomsday. Which gave Marshall a grander scale and a wider world to explore and perhaps something to say. And he couldn't hack it, and the thing was a big overwrought mess.
Centurion is kind of a cross between the two. Marshall again tries to do something new, but includes elements of what he does best, a group of plucky survivors against a seemingly unstoppable foe getting picked off one by one, to play it safe. Unfortunately it all doesn't quite mesh, and the only things that work is the tried and tested, and most of the Romans vs natives stuff just feels like a slightly gorier version of that shitty Bruckheimer King Arthur movie a few years back. Marshall handles the gore as well as you'd expect him to, although I'd say he looked a little clueless in the movie's main battle scene, trying to make it poetic but it honestly didn't work. Its hard to appreciate the tragedy of the situation against the sheer glee he takes in the gore. Once the Marshall status quo is restored however, it gets a bit better.
If I hadn't seen Fish Tank and Hunger, I'd call bullshit on Michael Fassbender about now. He is too frequently over-zealous and always seems to be trying way too hard in his more mainstream movies. And its not even in an enjoyable way, he seems to be to be trying to Daniel Day Lewis Centurion, and it just doesn;t fit. Faring better are Dominic West - McNulty - who gives the right kind of over the top performance, and good supporting work from David Morrissey and Liam Cunningham as two of the more memorable members of Fassbender's fellowship. It seems polite to not mention who ridiculous Noel Clarke comes across in this context, not quite able to clip his cockney accent and I'll I kept seeing was Mickey from Doctor Who. Bond Girl Olga Kurlyenko does a decent enough female historic version of the wordless badass from Battle Royale.
Its an entertaining movie, the deaths are quite creative slash hilarious and its a speedy enough chase movie, but this kind of thing has been done better and not seeing this film is not a major offense to your existence. And so Marshall may be a director with nothing to say, and nothing really to offer but sequential dismemberment. Still, it worked for John Carpenter.