***NB: Review based on the Canadian blu-Ray which is already released***
The first thing I must say is about the Blu-Ray itself. The picture transfer is very sharp and clear even during the (many) dark scenes. Sound is also superb, although only listed as Dolby Digital it nearly blew our speakers away - as good as if not better than some DTS soundtracks. If the UK BD release manages this quality, viewers are in for a treat.
Turning to the story, essentially it is a re-telling of Beowulf vs Grendel only in this case Beowulf is the humanoid alien Kainan stranded on Earth when his spacecraft crash lands, as a result of the creature - a Moorwen, representing Grendel - that had stowed away on board. However unlike Predator, AvP etc. the action all takes place in 9th century Norway not modern day America.
The film combines elements of the Beowulf movies, 13th Warrior, Pathfinder and more contemporary monster movies. My only slight complaint is that in actual fact very little play is made of the fact that here we have a person from an advanced civilisation who, despite having retrieved some of his tech from the crashed ship, effectively goes native straight away. This is helped by a convenient "Matrix" style mind probe that implants the Norse language in about 45 seconds! Maybe his race has a none interference policy but given revelations about why they are fighting the Moorwens later in the movie, seems unlikely. While not expecting Army of Darkness, "Now listen up you primates..." style interaction more could definitely have been made of this.
After overcoming the initial suspicions of the Viking tribe Kainan is fairly readily integrated as a warrior and only just in time as first a rival tribe, then the Moorwen attack. Special effects are well done and the Moorwen reminded me at times of the Balrog from the LOTR movies. Not sure what certificate this will be in the UK but it is quite gory in places particularly towards the end of the movie. Although largely predictable there are a couple of twists, as I mentioned above about the back story of how the Moorwen came to be on the spaceship and the ending is actually quite satisfying including how the person closest to Kainan sees him - "I'm the only one who knows his secret", but quite wide of the mark!
The music score is very good and not only complements the action but would make for good listening in its own right. I hadn't heard of composer Geoff Zanelli before but a quick Google reveals him to be from the Hans Zimmer/Klaus Badelt cadre and style.
In conclusion a very enjoyable movie on an outstanding Blu-Ray - just a pity more mileage wasn't made out of the spaceman in medieval village than was actually the case, which is why 4 stars not 5.