Any announcement that involves Neil Marshall getting more work is a good thing.
It’s exciting to hear that he’s back on “Game Of Thrones” for next season. His work on “Blackwater” was epic, even by the amazing weekly standards of that show. I think he’s been completely undervalued as a feature director, and a big part of it is simply because not enough people have seen his movies. “Centurion” happened at the exact wrong moment in the career arc of Michael Fassbender, and it would have been a much easier sell a year later. It’s worth catching up with if you haven’t seen it, and it’s just one more example of how good Marshall is at staging large action sequences.
Marshall has a classic sense of action geography. He’s smart about how he lays out his big set pieces, and he is excellent at conveying what’s important in a scene and how everything connects. These days, that seems to be a more and more precious skill, especially when the aesthetic pushes more and more towards total incoherence and visual chaos. When you look at “Doomsday” or “The Descent” or “Dog Soldiers,” you clearly see a guy who has action chops to spare, and yet it seems like he doesn’t work nearly enough.
Having said that, I feel bad that Andre Ovredal isn’t going to be directing the American version of “Trollhunter,” his movie from 2010. The original is a really well-directed film with an interesting sense of mythology, and it suggested a larger world that would be fun to play in. I’m not sure what to expect from the new version, written by Marc Haimes, and I’m not sure if it’s a direct remake or if it’s a new way of telling a story in that world. Whatever it is, I’m curious. And now that it looks like Marshall is directing the film, doing a quick rewrite before he starts production at the start of 2014, I’m doubly interested.
Part of me does dislike the way the system works. I don’t understand why Ovredal isn’t working on something in Hollywood already, considering how well he obviously works with visual effects and action. There are a few scenes in the film that would seem to qualify him as the perfect director of something like “Jurassic World,” and yet he’s not evidently doing anything right now and his calling card movie is being remade. It’s frustrating and irritating, and yet it’s business as usual.
Anyway, I’m excited for Marshall, and I look forward to finding out more about whatever approach they’re taking to what could be a lot of fun.