Last night about 150 lucky South By Southwesterners were the first audience in the world to see Centurion, the bloody new action flick written and directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday). It was one of SXSW's famed "secret screenings," though both Marshall and Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League both acknowledged that it was pretty much one of the worst-kept secrets ever. Officially, the event was called "Neil Marshall Presents" -- but since Centurion is the only movie he's been working on lately, there weren't a lot of other possibilities, unless his was going to present his home movies, or a slide show of his vacation, which, sure, probably would have also been awesome.

The movie is about Roman soldiers in the early 2nd century A.D., facing off against the Picts in Britain and trying to fight their way home. We'll have an official review later, but in the meantime I wanted to give you a feel for what type of movie it is. Please note that the following comments are not intended to indicate whether the movie is "good" or "bad." They are merely observations, designed to help the uninitiated viewer determine whether it is the kind of movie he or she would enjoy. I certainly had a good time with it.

Centurion is the kind of movie where a lot of people get shot with arrows.

Centurion is the kind of movie where people say things like, "You escaped the clutches of Gorlacon," and "I owe allegiance to no man but whom I choose," and "Now we are the prey."

Centurion is also the kind of movie where people say things like, "When will they learn not to f*** with the Ninth [Legion]?"

Centurion is the kind of movie where the sword budget was higher than the pants budget.


Centurion is the kind of movie where a dude who's been run through with a spear doesn't pull it out but simply aims the point of it at his enemy and impales him with it, too, while it's still stuck through his own body.

Centurion is the kind of movie that Gladiator would have been if Gladiator had been directed by Tony Scott instead of Ridley Scott.

Centurion is the kind of movie where you keep thinking there are going to be dragons, but then there aren't.

Centurion is the kind of movie where the Romans speak English with British accents, while the people living in the British Isles speak a language that requires subtitles.

Centurion is the kind of movie where the characters are named things like Virilus, Thax, Vortix, Maximus, and Imogen Poots. (Correction: Imogen Poots is actually the name of one of the stars, not a character.)