WARNING: If taken in large doses, nightshade can be deadly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Black Death and Centurion

I can't quite justify the expense of going to the movie theater every day...although it would be lovely if I could.  But Netflix and Netflix Instant have helped me fill the time between theater visits rather nicely.  The other day, I decided to stay home and watch a double header:  Black Death and Centurion.

Black Death:

I had high hopes for this one.  I adore Sean Bean and am interested in seeing Eddie Redmayne in more things.  But this movie just didn't do it for me at all.  Furthermore, it is labeled as "horror" and this cowardly lion didn't have to look away even once.  I've been more scared watching the Scary Movie parodies. 

General synopsis (since this movie was not widely promoted):  A monk (Eddie Redmayne) joins a group of fighters to investigate a small isolated village that has not yet been touched by the plague even though "the black death" has raged throughout the rest of the countryside.  The villagers are suspected of using witchcraft and necromancy to keep the plague at bay.  The knight leading the party (Sean Bean) is an extremely devout man who has reason to believe the rumors and plans on bringing God's justice to the village. 

The trip to the village is long, and drawn out.  Once they get to the village the story picks up, but ends up rushing through in order to fit everything in.  And the ending is a serious, serious letdown.  Also; SPOILER ALERT:

Sean Bean's character dies....horrifically.......again.  Seriously, do director's specifically hire him to die?  Do they change the story once the realize that Sean Bean has signed on so that his character dies in a horrible fashion??  It's getting a bit ridiculous at this point.  It's easier to count the number of movies he hasn't been killed in, and I'm kinda shocked that the director of Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief didn't change the script to have Poseidon shiv Zeus in the back while he was caught in a moment of distraction.  The Many Deaths of Sean Bean article at GeekSpeek called him the "'two-legged spoiler' because he always gets killed"

Now, on to the much better, IMO, Centurion:

 Short synopsis:  After a large legion of Roman soldiers is wiped out during a Pictish attack, the small group of survivors has to outsmart and outrun their pursuers back to the Roman base.

This is a much more complex, well drawn out story.  While the main character (Centurion Quintas Dias played by Michael Fassbender) grabs and holds your loyalty right from the start, I found myself hating and sympathizing with both the Romans and the Picts.  The Roman general was portrayed as a good man and a strong, compassionate leader.  The Pictish protagonist, Etain, is a strong, smart woman who survived her family being butchered while she was raped and had her tongue cut out at the hands of the Roman invaders.  The lengths at which the Romans and the Picts go to in order to hurt the others are barbaric, and they twist the people who carry out the acts as well as the victims.

Only two people get a happy ending in this movie.  But only after a hell of a lot of wrong is done to them by the Picts and the Romans.  

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