It’s no laughing matter, trying to sell a serious rumination on depression and the ways it can derail a life to Hollywood executives seeking warm-and-fuzzy romantic comedies and stories of teenage vampires in love. It’s even harder when that drama, about a man who combats his middle-aged funk by communicating through a hand puppet known only as The Beaver, stars the polarizing Mel Gibson.
Inspired by the demise of the Roman Empire’s Ninth Legion, a legendary unit founded by Julius Caesar and thought to have met a bitter end nearly two centuries later in what is now Scotland, Centurion is less grandiose than Zack Snyder’s 300 but every bit as brutal. If the sight of severed limbs leaves you squeamish, you’ve been warned.
Those seeking a history lesson would be foolish to consult the latest, bloodiest offering from director Neil Marshall, whose past credits include the crudely effective Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005), his claustrophobic venture into a subterranean abyss populated by flesh-hungry humanoids.
Kate Beckinsale is rarely acknowledged as an action star whose credentials in the genre rival Sigourney Weaver’s, but she should be.
She held off wolves, vampires and assorted snarling lowlifes in Underworld (2003) and its underrated sequel, Evolution (2006). She forcefully avoided becoming the star of Frank Whaley’s next snuff film in the scrappy thriller Vacancy (2007). And early in Whiteout, long before she’s called on to tame a masked killer, she gamely hops in the shower, dutifully pandering to her male demographic.
It has been eight years since Mel Gibson last starred in a movie, in M. Night Shyamalan’s extraterrestrial thriller Signs. Now Gibson, 54, is returning to the screen in Edge of Darkness, director Martin Campbell’s adaptation of his acclaimed, six-hour BBC miniseries about a brooding cop investigating the murder of his daughter.
Despite no previous acting experience, Katie Jarvis is the heart and troubled soul of Fish Tank, the gripping coming-of-age drama from Andrea Arnold and the most exciting new release in a week also highlighted by the arrival of Storm, Hans-Christian Schmid's thriller about crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, and the on-screen return of Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness.
Harrison Ford could have retired decades ago, living quite comfortably off the royalties he earned from the first Star Wars trilogy. Instead, he’s holding court in a chilly conference room at the Ritz Carlton, promoting Extraordinary Measures, in which he stars opposite Brendan Fraser as a brilliant but socially maladroit doctor devising a groundbreaking treatment for Pompe disease.