Friday, January 23, 2009
Here's the deal - a space traveler from a far away planet crash-lands on earth during the reign of the Vikings as a moose watches (700 A.D. in Norway a title tells us and I couldn't help but think of the Monty Python subtitle gag about "a moose bit my sister"). The stranger is Kainan (Jim Caviezel) and unbeknownst to him he has also brought an alien predator known as the Moorwen along with him. Kainan has some cool gizmo that he hooks up to his eye and it feeds him all the information he needs to know about the primitive earthlings, including their language (well not really their language but English so that we don't have to suffer through subtitles). The mass info download proves a bit painful and the first English word he utters is "F*ck!"Fittingly eloquent I suppose.
It turns out that both Kainan and the monster are seeking revenge for violent assaults committed against them. Similarly on Earth, two warring Viking clans are perpetuating violence against each other for past perceived injustices. Are you getting the irony here? Anyway, Kainan rallies the Vikings to his cause (after some frat boy drinking games) and sets out to defeat the Moorwen by melding his advanced technology with the Viking's Iron Age weaponry and their sheer manpower.
If this sounds ridiculous enough to be fun, it isn't. It moves too slowly and Caviezel is too bland for this to be the kind of bad movie you love to hate. It's absurd and full of itself, a bad combination. As with Cloverfield , I started rooting for the monster to eat the people at a faster rate. In fact the monster is the only thing I liked in the film. It had a certain sweetness in its bloodthirsty quest for revenge. But I would like to know how John Hurt and Ron Perlman, two fine actors, ended up in this film as well.
Ron Perlman trying to hide behind a big beard in Outlander (The Weinstein Company)
Director Howard McCain (who also wrote Underworld: Rise of the Lycans that's opening today as well) drags out the action but without ever building tension. We get repeated encounters between men and beast, and between warring clans, and there's a solid dose of battlefield gore. Yet it's all meaningless and sometimes downright dull because we don't care about anyone and we never doubt the outcome. There's no cleverness to the strategy taken by Kainan, and the beast is made too invincible for the plot to make any sense.
Outlander (rated R for violence) had apparently been sitting on the shelf and maybe it should have stayed there.
Companion viewing: The Host, Alien, Pitch Black, Beowulf
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