No, That’s Not Russell Brand to the Right
Starring: Jim Caviezel, John Hurt
By Robert Patrick
For those of you who wondered what would occur if a cave-dwelling dragon from another universe attacked a clan of disheveled Vikings, I have the movie for you. Not only does Outlander, the film in question, have a fire-spewing winged-beast, but it also stars James Caviezel as a spaceman from another world that’s sent to destroy the creature. The plotline almost seems like something conjured up by two drunken buddies who, under the influence of a dare to come up with the most ridiculous story feasible, adlib a movie idea about the dude from The Passion of Christ, all dressed up in outer space garb, warding off a reptilian nemesis during the age of Viking debauchery. Why, exactly, this movie was ever physically realized, however, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Outlander’s director, Howard McCain, figured he needed to make another movie after his last theatrical release, the splendidly titled, “No Dessert, Dad, Till You Mow the Lawn”, opened some fourteen years ago.
Because the screenplay for the Outlander was probably written haphazardly on a post-it note – or at least the script could fit on one – there isn’t much to explain in the way of story structure. Jim Caviezel, who plays the stoic Kainan, is launched along with his spaceship into an undisclosed forest area near a Viking village. When he awakens, so does a dragon. The snarling beast, known to the people of Kainan’s world as a Moorwen, begins to indiscriminately attack the Norseman clans, causing confusion and equal parts destruction.
The Vikings blame the chaos on Kainan, thinking that he is the primary culprit of the death tolls. Soon, the Viking king, Rothgar (John Hurt), ends up believing Kainan, and enlists him to fight the demonic fire breather. The disheveled Nordic warriors, with outrageous names barrowed from a World of Warcraft message board, sharpen their blades in order to help the spaceman in his attempt to squelch the dragon’s ways.
The rest of the movie is filled with horses sneering, dragons lurching, and, whenever luck permits, the occasional line of reasonable dialogue. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a score for this film – and if there is, it’s just a rhythmic rap of swords clanging against shields. The movie’s tagline, “It destroyed his world. He won’t let it destroy ours,” is pretty indicative of this film’s promise of action, and it doesn’t fail on most accounts.
The acting in the film, weighed down by Jim Caviezel’s vacuous screen presence, isn’t so much fraught with an awfulness as it is with mediocrity; John Hurt’s performance, while being passable, looks like he was pulled from the set of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull“, weathered costume and fangled hair intact, only to begin working on this film without an inkling of rehearsal time. Despite all of the former filmic injustices, a large majority of Outlander is reasonably fun for those who deem large body counts and monstrous dragons to be of their liking – and I suspect many closet videogame players will lay claim to this interest.
The movie is, without much contention, I speculate, an exercise in action. Because the screenplay is set on automatic, with mushroom cloud explosions and swords swinging, the desired audience will be pleased. I’m sure the self-proclaimed cerebral moviegoers will find the premise akin to a Sci-Fi Channel plot and, because of it, avoid the film. But all others – most noteworthy the teenage viewers – will be quick to pummel their hands into their pockets, dig out a wadded bill, and be entertained to their capacity of enjoyment. Overall, Outlander will please those looking for an action filled night at the movies. And with that being said, there isn’t that much wrong with it.
If you’re a person who can stomach two hours of mead-soaked beards and blood drenched soil, you should be good to go. But if you’re someone who thinks such things unceremoniously vapid, you should divvy up your pocket change, corral a couple of friends, and go see Revolutionary Road – you’ll be much happier.