September 8, 2009
It’s somehow hard to pin down exactly what Outlander was supposed to be, or what it eventually turned out as. The film has whiffs of McTiernan’s Predator, Disney’s Dragon Slayer (don’t get confused by the Disney thing, not a typical Disney movie) and Enemy Mine, yet somehow manages to miss the focus that any of them possessed.
The essence of the film is that you have a space warrior crash landing in Norway in the middle of the Viking age, having brought a ferocious space monster with him. His own people couldn’t stop this thing with loads of space age weaponry, but we’re fairly sure some Vikings with swords and hammers can do the trick. Sure enough, we’re not disappointed.
When Kainan (James Caviezel) crashes in his ship he sets about launching a distress beacon and exploring his surroundings, where he sees evidence that his space monster (the Moorwen) has also survived the crash and has began killing the local populous.
At this point Kainan manages to get himself captured by Wulfric (Jack Huston), the heir apparent to his clan, as the Viking sneaks up on him, despite the fact that Wulfric is on horseback and Kainan has a space age gun. Just how you sneak up on someone when you’re on horseback is beyond me, but he managed it.
It’s actions like this that make you think that Kainan isn’t much of a warrior, yet his escape from capture would lead you to suggest otherwise. Surely they’ve not forgone the character for the purposes of advancing the plot?
Anyhow, throw in Sophia Myles as Frey, the feisty Viking who Wulfric intends to make his wife and a village full of Viking warriors and you have a smorgasbord of victims ready for the Moorwen to set about, and set about he does in very violent fashion.
Be warned, this isn’t some creature flick where the victims are dragged kicking and screaming into the darkness. People lose limbs, heads, get split in two and then there’s the money shot of the creature’s lair, brim filled with bodies for its young to feast on. This is a film full of disturbing imagery.
The battle scenes in the film are suitably entertaining, with a small role for Ron Perlman adding to the carnage as only he can do, but it’s the bonding sequences and the predictability that let the movie down.
Surely when the hunting party killed a bear in the woods they knew it wasn’t the Moorwen? Yet still they celebrated, right up to the point where it started killing them again.
Outlander is no Predator, but it’s no AVP either. It’s somewhere in between and should provide a few good chuckles on a Saturday night as you play ‘guess which Viking will get killed next’.