Beowulf from Outer Space
"Outlander" is a great surprise by director Howard McCain - honestly never heard of him before, but I'll be keeping an eye on his work from now on! The movie opens with a spaceship crashing down on Earth, Norway 700 AD. The only surviour from the crew, Kainan (James Caviezel), is soon captured by vikings, who blame him for the slaughter in a nearby village. The outworlder claims he is not responsible and he has come to these lands hunting for dragons. The vikings don't trust a word... until their own village is attacked by a mysterious creature - something that Kainan brought with him from outer space...
Proving himself in battle Kainan gains the trust of the vikings and gets himself some trusty friends... and some interest from the King's daughter Freya (Sophia Myles). Together they have to face the alien beast Moorwen and find a way to destroy it. But Kainen is hunted not only by a monster, but by guilt and memories as well. He couldn't protect his beloved wife and son from the very same creature.
The story is simple and yet gripping. The idea that a pack of vikings and a spaceman battle an alien beast was exciting enough to make me interested and willing to see the movie. I approached it with no great expectations and I found myself pleasantly surprised! The movie is in fact very entertaining and involving. Jim Caviezel is an excellent choice for a tragic hero haunted by his past - a true Beowulf from outer space. The rest of the cast does a good job as well. I loved Sophia Myles in "Tristan & Isolde" and I was pleased to watch her again, this time as a bold Viking princess. In the supporting cast we have John Hurt and Ron Perlman (they've collaborated before on the Hellboy movies).
The Moorwen is designed by Patrick Tatopolous and if you're familiar with his work you can sense his style in it. I'd say there is some Godzilla-nuance to the Moorwen, but the luminous abilities of the creature were something new and exciting.
The production design, the sets and the costumes were also very good, but what really impressed me were the flashback sequences of Kainan's life before falling down to Earth. The Moorwen planet war scene is truly great and the only thing I regret is that they were not longer - I can enjoy out-of-this-world landscapes anytime! The CGI was impressive. I would play the movie again just to watch them once more.
The movie could use some faster pace at times and I find it slightly longer than it should have been, but by no means boring or trying. "Outlander" delivers an excellent sci-fi action-adventure - something we don't see too often these days!