Monday, January 26, 2009

Outlander (2009)

As a rule, Vikings are some of the toughest people to walk the Earth. Their no nonsense courage in the name of Odin have lead them to explore America and create Ikea and those are some ballsy achievements. So it's rather surprising that there aren't many movies about vikings out there. Despite recent films like Pathfinder and Beowulf, the big screen has been rather Norse free and the Norse we see were not as engaging. It seemed like something was lacking, a mysterious ingredient of success that eluded the viking movie's path towards badassery. The answer was simple, aliens.

Outlander is a mashup of genres. It's the spawn of Beowulf and Aliens with a heaping spoonful of character depth and for good measure, Ron Perlman. It's the tale of how Kainan aka Passion of the Christ Jesus, crash lands his spaceship onto our planet circa Viking times. Stuck on a primitive planet he finds he didn't make it off his ship alone. See, our spaceman Kainan was transporting a beast, and not just any beast, but one made from glowy lights, teeth, and the best bloodthirsty ferocity CGI can come up with. This isn't just an alien monster, it's an ALIEN MONSTER AHHHH RUN type of monster. And even worse, without his fancy ship and it's technology he has to rely on the help of vikings when it gets loose and starts snacking.

Cue the vikings, and they really are vikings. There's the old viking king who wants to protect his people from the monster. There's his spirited daughter who doesn't try to be this female Rambo feminist cliche even though she can wield a sword. There's the viking champion who covets the throne but isn't quite a douche but isn't quite a hero either and his alcoholic warrior buddy. They see the world as vikings do, hunting, pillaging, eating and drinking. It's a good life for them till the spaceman shows up and the monster begins to eat people including a rival village, giving the vikings the double threat of being eaten and being hacked to death in reprisal. But with the help of our hero and his intergalactic know how, they start forming ideas on how to stop said beasty.

In the end, Outlander is just a fun movie with surprising depth to it. It never tries to be more serious than it is, and it's got a lot more polish than typical B movie fare. The acting itself is pretty good and the characters actually have some growth to them so they aren't one dimensional throwaways to be eaten. I give Outlander four viking Gomorrahs, at least until I implement the 80's Robot Scale of Awesome (TM).

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