A period prequel to Predator in all but name, this Vikings-versus-aliens actioner has a terrific monstermovie premise but is missing both Arnie’s sizeable presence and, more importantly, an iconic critter.
When his spaceship crash-lands in a Norwegian fjord circa 709AD, Jim Caviezel’s Kainan inserts a translator into a painful orifice, allowing him to speak first Norse, then American, before setting off after the Moorwen, the ferocious beastie he’d been transporting across the galaxy. But before you can say Beowulf, Kainan’s the one being hunted through the pretty pine-tree countryside by warrior Wulfic (Jack Huston, as wooden as his surroundings and frequently out-acted by them).
Winding up at the fortress of John Hurt’s King Rothgar, Caviezel’s ‘outlander’ soon takes the fancy of the monarch’s proto-feminist, sword-wielding daughter Freya (Myles), to whom he unburdens himself of his connection to the Moorwen. Which brings us to the fiend itself, a Patrick Tatopolousdesigned monster that looks much like every other Patrick Tatopolous-designed monster (see Godzilla, Independence Day, Pitch Black et al).
As space creatures go, it’s just not alien enough to fester in the memory. But don’t discount its red laser-like tongue and noxious temper, put to brutal use in the film’s nastiest, most gripping sequence, where it fetches up under cover of darkness to waste several villagers.
Working from a script abundant with fantasy references, mythical subtext and moments from better movies (LOTR, The Descent, you name it), as well as characters who don’t seem to know what century they’re talking in, Howard McCain’s debut tries very hard but rarely manages to ignite or excite.
If it weren’t for the best efforts of a bewhiskered Hurt, who again proves that he can make any old tosh sound believable, Odin might be turning in his grave. If he had one.
This should have been a cracking genre piece – Vikings? Monsters? What’s not to like? – even if Beowulf hadn’t got there first. But despite the cool concept, it commits the cardinal sin of being a little too much on the dull side.