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Overall Rating
3.48

Awesome: 7.41%
Worth A Look51.85%
Average: 29.63%
Pretty Bad: 3.7%
Total Crap: 7.41%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings


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Outlander
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Adventures of Fjord Fairlane"
4 stars

With a screenplay that boldly tries to combine elements from films as disparate as “Jaws,” “Predator” and the medieval epic of your choice, a title that boldly calls to mind two middling Eighties-era genre films featuring Sean Connery and a font for that title that appears to have boldly leaped off of the cover of the notebook belonging to that stoner you sat behind in social studies who was always reminding you of the awesomeness of AC/DC, there is a very good chance that “Outlander” may well be the silliest movie to emerge this year--perhaps even this decade. I should hasten to add at this point that this is not necessarily a criticism. Face it, the last few weeks have seen an unrelenting stream of ultra-serious bits of Oscar bait--some that have been successful (such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Che”) and some much less so (remember that long-ago time when everyone just assumed that “Revolutionary Road” was going to crush everything in its path on its way to Oscar gold--a period that lasted until the moment that people actually began seeing it?)--and after a while, watching one noble and well-meaning movie after another can get a little oppressive and at that point, even the most artistically-inclined viewers are going to find themselves in the mood for something a little less serious-minded. In other words, it is the perfect time for a film that has no greater ambition in life than to serve as this generation’s “Yor: Hunter from the Future” and while “Outlander” may not quite live up (or down) to the legacy of that pseudo-classic, its blend of crappy special effects, cheesy acting and straight-faced silliness is enough to provide viewers with a taste for camp trash with a couple of hours of cheerfully ridiculous mind-rot.

Jim Caviezel, whose post-“The Passion of the Christ” career didn’t really pan out--stars as Kainan, a man from a faraway world and as the film opens, his spaceship crash-lands on Earth and his deadly cargo, a couple of highly dangerous creatures known as Moorwen, escape into the countryside. After doing some high-tech calculations, he discovers that he has landed in Norway circa 709 AD and once he injects himself in the eye with a computer program that allows him to be perfectly fluent in the Norse dialect of the era (a.k.a. Action-movie English interspersed with the occasional flourish and the more-than-occasional grunting), he sets off in pursuit of the Moorwen before they can do any real damage. Alas, Kainan proves to be as adept on the ground as he was behind the wheel of his spaceship because he loses his all-precious laser pistol approximately two seconds into his quest (possibly to set up a sequel that will play as a Nordic-themed variation of “Laserblast”) and is then immediately captured by a local Viking tribe approximately two seconds after that. While hotheaded second-in-command Wulfric (Jack Huston) wants to kill the intruder, tribal chief Rothgar (John Hurt) and his surprisingly well-plucked daughter Freya (Sophia Myles) are curious about him and when reports surface of a strange creature ravaging the countryside, they enlist his aid to slay the beast. Alas, they only come up with a giant bear and while the tribe is satisfied, Kainan knows that this was no fjording accident and that the Moorwen are still out there. Once the beasts attack another tribe, led by Gunnar (Ron Perlman, Hollywood’s go-to guy when you want to slap a ton of makeup on someone), Kainan has to convince the two opposing camps, both of whom suspect the other of treachery, to unite in order to battle their common and poorly animated CGI foe using his futuristic know-how and their Viking-era weaponry.

As you can probably guess from the above synopsis, “Outlander” is one of the silliest movies to come around in recent memory. Aside from the contributions from Hurt and Perelman, both of whom have been in enough craptacular over the years to be able to deliver performances that indicate that they are indeed in on the joke without ever making it too jokey, the acting is uniformly terrible--Caviezel seems to have been cast only because he absorbs nearly as much punishment here as he did in “The Passion of the Christ.” The story is ridiculous and the dialogue even more so--although there are plenty of candidates for the best/worst line of dialogue, I have to go with Kainan’s first word in the Norse language after undergoing his optical Berlitz treatment. And yes, the special effects are incredibly dodgy--although millions of dollars were presumably create the visuals on display, the end results pale in comparison to the stuff that your average 13-year-old nerd is currently creating down in the basement as we speak. And yet, in this particular case, these aren’t criticisms as much as they are mere observations. This is, after all, a film that is essentially one long battle royale between Vikings and aliens--do you really think that such a thing would be improved with a solidly constructed screenplay and nuanced characterizations? More to the point, would you want to see such a film or would you prefer a take on the material that wears its goofiness on its chain-mail sleeve? Call me crazy, but I’ll take the latter approach any day of the week, especially since it appears that practically everyone involved with the project (save the aforementioned Hurt and Perlman) seem to be taking the entire thing completely seriously, which only makes it funnier as it goes on. This is the correct stance to take, of course, because if the film kept underlining just how preposterous it truly was, it would just get annoying after a while. By doing things with a straight face, however, only makes things funnier and more entertaining in the long run.

I guess what I am trying to say is that even though I know in my heart that “Outlander” is one of the stupidest movies that I have ever seen, I still have enough affection for it to sort of recommend it to certain viewers, the kind of people who can fully appreciate the illicit and vaguely shameful pleasures that can be derived from a really good bad movie. Of course, I realize that not everyone is wired that way and if you aren’t, a film like this could well be unendurable. Here’s an easy way to tell if you are the type of person who will respond favorably to the lunacy that is “Outlander.” Earlier in this review, you may recall, I mentioned the films “Yor: Hunter from the Future” and “Laserblast.” If your eyes lit up with recognition when you saw those titles, then this film is right up your alley.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18343&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/23/09 16:00:00
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User Comments

3/27/11 mr.mike It is not served well by the somewhat cheesy F/X.. 3 stars
3/18/10 GrandMaster T Predictably, B-grade fluff. Unfortunately, boring as all hell to go with it. 2 stars
1/28/10 izzy If you love a good laugh and lots of monster gor this movie is for you! 5 stars
8/14/09 Steve Hock Should have left the poor Moorwens alone in the first place. 3 stars
8/14/09 Bada$sBitcH Extremely boring. Bad acting. Extremely predictable. Ugly visuals. Avoidavoidavoidavoid!!! 1 stars
6/02/09 ES Predator meets 13th warrior, a fine piece of cinema 4 stars
3/08/09 Linda Diaz I thought the story line was interesting. and set in space I'm there! 5 stars
2/06/09 Alejandro Sosa Very surprising, ended up being a lot better then i thought! 4 stars
1/28/09 PAUL SHORTT A SKIMPY SCRIPT WITH UNIMAGINATIVE CHARACTERS, MUNDANE DIALOGUE AND ROUTINE PLOT TWISTS 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Jan-2009 (R)
  DVD: 19-May-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Jan-2009
  DVD: 19-May-2009


Directed by
  Howard McCain

Written by
  Howard McCain
  Dirk Blackman

Cast
  James Caviezel
  John Hurt
  Ron Perlman
  Sophia Myles



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