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Underrated, under-promoted ... but quite excellent nevertheless
on 22 May 2009
At first glance this movie appears to be a strange mixture of "hard" sci-fi and mythological history flick, given the ancient nordic "Beowulf" saga an unexpected twist, with the hero actually being a marooned space-farer who unwittingly brought a monstrous extra-terrestial creature with him to early medieval earth. Monstrous Grendel and the dragon of beowulfic origins as alien lifeforms ? We have seen stranger explanations and plot-devices, haven't we ? And don't worry, not much wielding of laser's or futuristic tech to spoil the tone of the viking setting, mud and harsh conditions included.
What follows is well-filmed with a good sense for editing and sound mixture, lovingly outfitted , mostly superior acting by the cast including John Hurt and Ron Perlman in lesser, but memorable roles, more than just one-dimensional villains and as a nice bonus a fittingly epic soundtrack. Not to forget some dry wit by the local vikings, even if it does not dominate the movie, and an understated romance with the not-so-meek female lead, feisty Sophia Myles.
Yes, some factual liberties are being taken - such as oddly capable blacksmith shops and volcanic caves in Norway amongst the more noticable ones, not to mention the Sci-Fi elements - though mostly to facilliate the flow of the story, BUT..... show me one recent movie or even documentary that doesn't...
Even if the CGI is not quite cutting edge "Outlander" ends up being a far superior historical adventure flick than its obvious direct competitors "the 13th Warrior", the overly violent "Pathfinder" and the cheesy "Beowulf" of 2007 (or the even worse 90ies one...*shudder*)... or basically any historical/fantasy movie with a heroic theme made in the last decade except the hard-to-eclipse "LotR"-saga. IMHO, of course...
Yes, it did not make the "big screen" anywhere but for some select festivals (I caught it in Hamburg's fantasy festival, lucky me ) , but in all honesty, that simply proves just how idiotic some studios treat the material they are given... so what else is new ?