11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Give it a second chance!,
This review is from: The 13th Warrior [DVD]  (DVD)
As other reviewers have said, this is one of those films that fares better on DVD than on the big screen. At the cinema you notice some of the ropier dialogue, the cheaper SFX shots (of which, to be fair, there are few) and the instances of heavy-handed editing which create a rather unwanted comedic effect ('Is there a cave?!'); but on DVD these flaws are easily forgiven and instead you can sit back and enjoy a very satisfying actioner directed by a man who knows his onions.
The plot (a curious mixture of historical record and the legend of Beowulf) is basic - outsider joins Viking band to destroy a monstrous brood terrorising a village - so here are a few reasons why you should give this film another chance - or even a first one!
1. Antonio Banderas: convincing in the action scenes, excellent with the lighter moments (see Zorro), and handsome - plus an accent that could melt ice-caps;
2. The supporting cast: a number of familiar Brits (including Clive Russell from Spaced) doing decent Norse accents, plus some genuine Scandinavian actors, of whom Dennis Storhoi is the standout - shame he hasn't appeared in more English language films;
3. The action scenes: short on SFX, high on energy, particularly the shield-duel between Storhoi and a huge ginger Viking, and the rain-soaked finale in which the last stand of Buliwyf and the shouted Norse prayer for courage even tugs at the heartstrings a little;
4. The musical score: rousing, bombastic, with shades of Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian; evocative stuff.
True, the film falls short in several places - historical authenticity got left at the back door (not too criminal), some of the dialogue clangs alarmingly, Diane Venora is completely wasted and there are a couple of cringe-worthy implausibilities (can you really learn a language simply by listening? - but at least they acknowledge that these people spoke different languages to each other, which is often glossed over!). It is a pity there are no extras on the DVD - a longer cut of the film, for instance, or at least some deleted scenes would be welcome, as would some info on the real Ibn Fadlan and perhaps Beowulf for the uninitiated. So, not perfect - but a movie with enough good stuff to warrant a Saturday night watch. Solid entertainment.