Movie #47: The Outlander

After a slew of indie-type, serious movies, I was really starting to crave some escapist sci-fi. There wasn’t too much of that left that I hadn’t already seen, but I did find The Outlander, which fit the qualifications, but only barely. Jim Caviezel (yes, Jesus does sci-fi too) stars as Kainan: a warrior from another planet whose ship crash lands in Viking-era Norway. Local hero Wulfric finds him and captures him, believing him responsible for the destruction of their rival village (oh, also, he looks like your average white guy and his fancy equipment gave him a crash course in the local dialect). Instead, it was actually an alien monster called the Moorwen, that stowed away on Kainan’s ship, which was killing them all. Once he proves himself, he helps the Vikings hunt and kill the beast so they can live in relative peace. As you might guess from the synopsis, there ends up being very little sci-fi. The plot is even kind of a gloss on the ancient tale of Beowulf and Grendel (rather than something excitingly fresh and inventive). Unfortunately, even with the new spin, the plot is very predictable and cliche. Kainan develops a brotherly rivalry with Wulfric, catches the reluctant eye of the king’s daughter Freya (played by Sophia Myles, a Kate Winslet/Rachel Weisz lookalike), gains the fatherly admiration of the king himself, and even inspires strength in a little orphan boy. With its generic title, this movie is like a template for any number of outsider-warrior story-lines. The acting performances were average. Even John Hurt as King Rothgar kind of phoned it in. The CGI monsters were mediocre at best. While some of the mountainous scenery was nice, this movie is definitely skippable. For your Viking fix, I would recommend the animated Beowulf, or the excellent Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (even How To Train Your Dragon if kids are involved) over this movie. (3 out of 5)

3 more to go!

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