Howard McCain :: USA :: 2008 :: 1h55

An alien space craft comes crashing down from the heavens into a picturesque Norwegian lake. It is the 7th century AD and the country is inhabited by small groups of Vikings living in protected villages. Kainan (James Caviezel) climbs out of his craft and swims to the surface. As he goes out discovering his environment, he finds a pillaged village. On examining the burning village, he realises it was done by Moorwen, an alien predator who must have been a stowaway on his ship. As luck would have it, that is the moment he is surprised by the Viking Wulfric (Jack Huston), who assumes he is responsible for the village carnage. He is taken back to Wulfric’s tribe. Kainan gains their confidence through valour, and sets out together with Wulfric to hunt down the alien/ dragon in an epic Beowulf style.

To rid ourselves of the weakest link first: the story. The story is not the glory of the movie. But if the idea of watching an alien-Viking movie thrills you, then “Outlander” delivers. We get to follow around the Vikings as they go out hunting for vengeful Moorwen, who we discover to be as a bus-sized fluorescent rhino-armour plated pit bull with a scorpion tail. We get a good look at him too, under different circumstances and lighting, to get the full fear-inducing effect. Both the beast and the the hunt are fun to watch unfold, mostly thanks to a descent photography, an eery lighting and B-film type gory battles.

Epic journeys are traditionally about values, with grand speeches by the king and so forth. The Vikings are indeed portrayed as noble savages, but there is something else going on. Under the double revenge theme of the movie, lies the painful realisation that we may be spending our time cheering on the wrong side. That little perverse twist is not conveniently ignored, as you are taken along in this fluid production. But that does not have to upset you. The unpretentious movie may not change anything for anyone, but it is a fun 2 hours. No need to hesitate – take out that double horned helmet gathering dust in the back of your cupboard, the Vikings are back!


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