Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Apr 21 2009You can imagine the pitching session. ‘Okay, I need ideas, people. Cowboys vs zombies? Too obvious. Pirates vs vampires? Too expensive. Wait, I got it! Vikings vs aliens!’ Yes, it’s ‘Beowulf’ with tentacles, as jobbing space-cop Kainan (Jim Caviezel) crash-lands in twelfth-century Scandinavia and accidentally unleashes one seriously cranky, spectacularly toothy space beast. When the animal goes on the inevitable rampage in the mead hall of King Rothgar (John Hurt), Kainan’s the only one with the knowledge and skills to end the monster’s reign of terror.
Director Howard McCain has assembled a remarkable cast for what is essentially a deeply silly slice of B-movie hokum: erstwhile godhead Caviezel seems a little lost, but Hurt and Ron Perlman – both of whom have had some experience with intergalactic carnivores in the past – look like they’re having a whale of a time. No dark-age cliché is left unexploited, from swords, sandals and excessive drinking to buxom wenches and strapping warriors with names like Freya and Wulfric (and even, with no detectable irony, Boromir).
It’s all wildly predictable, laughable stuff. But McCain directs with terrific energy, making the most of his mud-spattered nordic locations and competent CGI and managing to keep an overstretched narrative compelling. He also never allows the film to descend into obvious self-parody: there’s a broad seam of playful mockery running throughout, but never to the point that it undermines the narrative. Daft, obvious but hugely enjoyable, ‘Outlander’ is superior trash.
Author: Tom Huddleston