Feb 6, 2014


I am a huge proponent of blind buying, so long as the price is right. My initial foray into the Netflix service (way back when they still believed in quality control insofar as the condition of their physical discs are concerned), my blind buying technique took a huge nosedive (and subsequently saved me a lot of money). 

But after Netflix's disc service adopted the new name "Enjoy Your New Hockey Puck," I found myself going back to my old ways. A combination of discovering the joy that is Movie Stop, along with the sometimes ridiculous sales that goHastings has on their site at least once a week, allowed me to continue my blind buying nonsense without spending a whole lot of money. You sometimes end up with a lot of duds that get tossed into the trade-in box, but every so often you find a real gem, for which you had no initial expectations beyond, "Sure, I'd watch that."

Enter Outlander. Have you seen this? It's really fucking fun.


A very very loose adaptation of "Beowulf," (but more in common with Reign of Fire), Outlander features James Caviezel as Kainan, an (alien?) soldier whose spaceship crash-lands in 709 AD Norway. If Kainan hails from a more advanced civilization beyond the stars, or if he's actually an alien (I guess technically he would be? I don't fucking know), it's never really made clear. There are a few "you're dressed weird!"-type comments made by the Vikings who capture and imprison Kainan, but other than that, it's not really discussed. John Hurt plays King Hrothgar (one of the few carryovers from the original "Beowulf"poem), and Ron Perlman plays the much-too-brief role of King Gunnar, who's bald and tattooed and pissed off all the time. Jack Huston and Sophia Myles play Wulfric, Hrothgar's nephew, and Freya, Hrothgar's daughter, respectively. 

The first night in which Kainan is held prisoner, something vicious and unseen attacks the Vikings' settlement under the cover of darkness, leaving several people dead. At first these deaths are blamed on a random animal attack, so a small group of men head out into the woods to track down the beast they think is responsible. King Hrothgar is soon nearly killed by a bear before Kainan intervenes, saving the king and killing the bear. He's hailed a hero and welcomed into their society, not quite "one of them," but no longer a prisoner. However, it's soon made abundantly clear that the thing responsible for the attack on the settlement is still out there...and not only that...but that Kainan is responsible for it being there.

Outlander is big dumb fun, and that's okay. Though it wears a serious face, it doesn't take itself all that seriously, and it's fine with side-stepping potential plot complications by requesting the audience simply suspend disbelief. Even in the very beginning, when Kainan crash lands on Earth and then uses his fun computer gizmos to determine what language the planet's occupants use to communicate, "Norse" pops up on the screen, so he downloads the language, and we soon find he's speaking English, instead (which is what all of our characters will use for the remainder of the film). It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but then again, neither did the characters in Gladiator speaking English. And if you're tempted to say "hey, that's cheating!" then I suggest you take Kainan's first English-uttered word into account:


Equal parts sci-fi, action, and horror, Outlander is totally fine with attempting to flesh out its important characters so you can see that the filmmakers are actually trying to elevate the film above what it essentially is: Vikings fighting a monster a Moorwen, a ginormous thing that looks like a neon dragon and can glow in the dark.

Typing all of this makes it sound like the dumbest movie on Planet Earth, but it's harmless and infectiously enjoyable. It's well-acted, well-directed, and quite violent. Outlander is a B movie cavorting around with a B-movie concept, an A- cast, and A+ visual effects.

Released in something like fifty venues during its initial run, chances are you did not see this thing in theaters. Being that this was a Weinstein Company release, that should surprise exactly no one, as they have a habit of quietly releasing their better genre stuff (see Below), and marketing the hell out of their garbage (see mostly everything else).

But I enthusiastically recommend Outlander. It's refreshing to see James Caviezel in a rare lead role and it's certainly entertaining to see heads fly off. Give it a chance and enjoy yourself. I certainly did.

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