from Ain’t It Cool News / by Moriarty
I’m sorry. That’s too familiar. We’ve only met a handful of times, so perhaps “Mr. Weinstein” is more appropriate. Whatever the case, I’d like a moment of your time this morning to talk about Howard McCain’s OUTLANDER, which The Weinstein Company owns.
I’m not entirely sure you know which film I’m referring to. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, so let me remind you. Last week, a couple of different trailers for the film showed up online. It’s the movie where Jim Caviezel plays an alien who crashlands on Earth in the time of the Vikings. He brings something called a “Moorwen” with him, a giant dragon-like creature that begins to attack Viking villages and kill everyone. What unfolds is the most fun I’ve had with a lower-budget SF film since PITCH BLACK, and in a lot of ways, this film reminds me of that one.
I’m not sure what you personally think of the film, but let me share with you my reaction, and my thoughts on what kind of audience there is for it. I walked into the film cold. I saw those trailers, but they were terrible quality. And I haven’t been following this one during production. I was aware of it, but I think I had it sort of confused with PATHFINDER at the same time, and when I saw PATHFINDER, I think I was expecting this film, and when it wasn’t, it was confusing and irritating. I guess I just couldn’t imagine two Viking projects in the works at the same time, both about outsiders being taken into a culture. So walking into the screening room to see this film, I was a fairly blank slate. I didn’t have any expectations.
The film starts mid-crash, as Kainan (Caviezel) steers his ship through Earth’s atmosphere, almost completely out of control, finally managing to splash down in a deep lake somewhere in Norway. Sometime around 700 A.D. Kainan manages to salvage a bit of equipment, sets up a homing beacon, and then heads into the woods to explore. Quickly, he finds himself overpowered after an encounter with Wulfric (Jack Huston), a Viking warrior who is next in line to command a village, after the current King, Rothgar (John Hurt).
Wait… did I say “Rothgar”? Why does that sound familiar?
Anyway, there’s some confusion about who Kainan is, and none of the Vikings believe him when he says he’s hunting a dragon. They believe he was behind the slaughter of a neighboring village, something that will be blamed on the. They’re desperate to get a confession out of him, Wulfric left in charge of getting the answers they need. When the head of that now-decimated village, Gunnar (Ron Perlman) returns from a hunting expedition with a handful of his warriors, he mounts an attack on Rothgar’s village. For a while, it looks like the two tribes are going to destroy each other…
… and then Kainan’s “dragon” shows up. And all hell breaks loose. And the movie gets really fun.
Look, Mr. Weinstein, you and I both know nobody’s going to the Oscars for OUTLANDER, but there is an audience for this. It’s a good cast. John Hurt and Ron Perlman and Jim Caviezel and Sophia Myles and this Jack Huston guy who should be due his big break any second. All of them are rock solid in it. And while Perlman isn’t in much of the film, his first scene is stupendous, and every single time he shows up, he is the unavoidable center of attention, ridiculously fun to watch. The film looks great. Director of photography Pierre Gill doesn’t have the most distinguished track record of films, but here, he does lush and stylish on a budget of just north of $30 million. Geoff Zanelli’s score definitely shows the composers roots in the Hans Zimmer factory, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s definitely of that school, but he’s been doing strong work on genre fare like FEAST, DISTURBIA, and HITMAN. With this movie, he’s written a big sweeping action epic score that really pays off some of the big visual moments, like that awesome flashback to the home planet of the Morwens, or in some of the most entertaining character moments, like the game of shields they play. The design work by guys like Iain McCaig and Ryan Church –