Outlander

Outlander has a very simple plot - a man from another galaxy crash lands with his ship on a backwater planet, right in the heart of Norway, and the year is 709AD.

Review by SAndman
February 18, 2009

Director: Howard McCain

Writers:
story and screenplay: Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain

Cast:
James Caviezel as Kainan
Sophia Myles as Freya
Jack Huston as Wulfric
John Hurt as Rothgar
Ron Perlman as Gunnar
Cliff Saunders as Boromir

Released: 2008

Kainan:The first time I saw one, I didn't know what I was looking at. It was just a smudge of light in the darkness.



The man, who goes by Kainan, has brought with him a deadly enemy, the Moorwen, a vicious carnivore from his world, which immediately starts carving out a territory for itself, killing everyone and everything that gets in its way, man, beast, you name it.

Kainan has managed to salvage the weapons and equipment from his spaceship when it crash landed into a lake, and sank to the bottom. He sets up a homing device, and presently gets his bearings. In a short and exceptionally traumatic procedure which involves a cone-like gizmo, which he points to his eye, he downloads the knowledge a local language-oddly enough, it is English, but you would have expected that- as well as a crash course on the human history up to the present moment.

As soon as he recovers he wipes the blood off his face and tests his weapon to a devastating effect. Then he sets off on a pursuit of his runaway cargo. Soon he encounters evidence of the carnage his adversary left in its wake-a village razed to the ground, the carcass of a whale. In the woods Kainan stumbles on a Viking community beset by attackers, worldly and otherworldly. He finds it necessary to elicit the help of the Vikings, but he first must overcome their mistrust and fear. In the meanwhile, the Moorwen's rampage continues and an unlikely alliance is forged between the backward Vikings and the man from a highly technological civilization. The final battle is at hand. Who will prove the stronger?

If the plot of Outlander sounds like the thousand and first revisit of the old human versus a very unpleasant alien theme, you won't be far off the mark. Compared to the biggies like Alien (and the whole Alien Quartet), The Thing, Predator, and many others, Outlander doesn't bring much novelty.

You may have seen scarier aliens-which is not to say that the Moorwen isn't plenty scary, it's just that the others were even more so. And you may have encountered a more convincing heroes than the slightly off-the-rack Kainan. However, the mix of testosterone-pumping action, breathtaking vistas of the primeval lakes and woods in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and the mysterious Moorwen bent on vengeance, all executed in a very stylish way, makes Outlander a highly watchable movie.

Personally, I thought the most interesting part of the movie was the believable and earthy reconstruction of an early Viking settlement in all the gritty splendor of their clothing and equipment. That and the subtle parallels between the plot of the movie and the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. If you've read the poem, or have seen any of the onscreen adaptations of it, and if you watch Outlander very carefully, you will find a lot of scenes and motifs in the movie that hint at Beowulf starting with the theme of an embattled community, a pair of enemies, the underground cave in which the final battle takes place, and many others.

Outlander explores the themes of vengeance, guilt and redemption. Kainan's name bears a clear resemblance to the first killer and though he cannot be blamed for bringing murder to the already bloodied Viking world, he blames himself for the tragedy which befell his family. His wish for revenge reflects the Moorwen's, the two adversaries indeed have much in common. The same goes for the Vikings whose world is rife with the endless cycle of conflict and retribution. They, too, like Kainan, have to learn to overcome their shortcomings in order to prevail against overwhelming odds.

Outlander may not be a movie you'll remember, but it's really good fun, with the addition of a few spectacularly chilling moments, like the Moorwen's night raids, or the scenes in which the creature first reveals its presence to the baffled Vikings, or when Kainan and the rest climb down into a cave piled wall to wall with the rotting bodies of the Moorwen's victims.

So gird on your sword, dust off your mail coat, and get ready to join the Outlander as he embarks on a deadly hunt in the woods haunted by demons and monsters.



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