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Outlander
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Howard McCain

Written By:
Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain

Cast:
James Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Matt Cooke, Aidan Devine, Michael Fox, Amy Kerr, Ted Ludzik, Liam McNamara, Simon Northwood, Todd Sandomirsky, Cliff Saunders, Todd Schroeder, Patrick Stevenson, Katie Bergin, James Preston Rogers, John Beale, J. William Grantham, Allyson Haas, Craig Harris, Ricardo Hoyos, Bailey Maughan, John Nelles, Mark A. Owen, Scott Owen, Owen Pattison, Petra Prazak, Colette Stevenson, Steven Wendland, Drakaina


 
Outlander (2008)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
January 29th, 2009

'Outlander' is an interesting mix of genres; it comes from Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain, who previously worked together on the screenplay for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Here, they have meshed a sci-fi creature feature with a Viking action saga, and both elements of the story play out convincingly enough. The sci-fi portion involves Kainan (James Caviezel), who crawls out from the wreckage of a spaceship that has crashed on a fjord in Norway, circa 709 CE.

Kainan did not arrive alone, however; there is also a creature that traveled with him, called a Moorwen, which looks somewhat like a big armored bug, and appears unstoppable. Both of them come from another planet, but no specific details emerge beyond that. The Moorwen's home world was invaded by Kainan's clan (or tribe, or race, or whatever), and most of the Moorwens were exterminated, but those that managed to survive the initial assault started to fight back, and soon, the interlopers found themselves facing extinction.

Kainan is one of the survivors, and has no idea that the Moorwen hitched a ride with him, until it begins a new killing spree. He is taken in by the residents of Herot, a Viking village surrounded by large wooden walls. Kainan falls for Freya (Sophia Myles), who nurses him back to health; she is the daughter of King Rothgar (John Hurt, in full Viking garb). Everyone is initially suspicious of Kainan, until he agrees to help Rothgar slay the Moorwen. Jack Huston is the young warrior Wulfric, who dislikes Kainan because of his blossoming romance with Freya.

Kainan brings with him some advanced futuristic technology, which is apparently not adequate to kill the Moorwen by itself, as he seems to require assistance from the Vikings and their primitive iron weaponry. OK, so Kainan is a humanoid alien. I kept thinking how Caviezel played Jesus in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, and wondering if Gibson, had he directed this film, would have stuck with Norse dialogue, instead of switching to English, since Kainan has a device that allows him to communicate in (and comprehend) a variety of languages.

This hurts the overall authenticity of the picture, which is rather impressive otherwise in terms of technical achievement. The special effects lack a distinctive "wow" factor, and the Moorwen is not really around a whole lot until the start of the second hour; much of the first is concerned primarily with exploring the drama that unfolds in Helot, the love triangle between Kainan, Freya, and Wulfric, the tension with Rothgar's rival Gunnar (Ron Perlman), and how Kainan can win the trust of the townspeople. The battle sequences, when they occur, are fairly mediocre, violent but not especially thrilling or exciting.

On the surface, McCain and Blackman seem to be crafting a Beowulf clone, with Moorwen a substitute for the Grendel; they also don't care about creating an expansive narrative filled with characters or events from the rich landscape of Norse mythology, which they could have easily done, with numerous gods, heroes, and legends to choose from. The only noteworthy performance comes from Hurt, who takes his lines and infuses them with gravitas.

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