Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#1,052. Outlander (2008)

Directed By: Howard McCain

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston

Tag line: "It destroyed his world. He won't let it destroy ours"

Trivia: Karl Urban was originally considered for the part of Kainan, but he pulled out due to delays in production

Writer / Director Howard McCain’s 2008 movie, Outlander, is about a visitor from outer space whose ship crash-lands in Norway in the year 709 A.D., bringing with it a deadly creature that immediately starts feeding on the local population.

Aliens, Vikings, and monsters? Seriously, how cool is that?

The visitor is a man named Kainan (Jim Caviezel), and the creature that stowed away on his ship is a Moorwen, a huge, reptilian-like beast with a voracious appetite. While trying to recapture this monster, Kainan himself is taken prisoner by the locals, and dragged off to the Norse village of Shield Hall. It seems the Moorwen has already struck, destroying a town ruled by Shield Hall’s chief rival, Gunner (Ron Perlman). Fearing his village will be blamed for the massacre, King Hrothgar (John Hurt) demands an explanation from Kainan, who proceeds to tell him about the Moorwen, describing it as a "dragon". In exchange for his freedom, Kainan promises to help defeat the beast, and, joined by Wulfric (Jack Huston), who’s engaged to Hrothgar’s daughter, Freya (Sophia Myles), he sets out to destroy the elusive Moorwen before it has a chance to kill again.

As you might expect from a movie that features both aliens and Vikings, Outlander is, first and foremost, an action film. It’s various battle scenes are well-staged; following an exciting sequence where the Moorwen attacks Shield Hall, there’s a violent confrontation between King Hrothgar’s army and that of Gunner, who's come looking for revenge. As for the special effects, the Moorwen is one of the better looking CG monsters I’ve seen, which may have something to do with director McCain’s decision to keep it somewhat concealed in the early scenes, save a flaming-red light that emanates from its mouth whenever its about to attack (a pretty awesome effect, actually). The film’s most impressive sequence comes when Kainan tells Freya the story of how his people invaded the Moorwen's home world, which they then tried to colonize, only to be slaughtered themselves when the Moorwen suddenly resurfaced.

Yet, despite its focus on thrills and CGI, Outlander also takes the time to develop its characters, especially Caviezel’s Kainan, who comes to regret his people’s attempted genocide of the Moorwens. Make no mistake: Outlander is an action-packed, special effects-laden extravaganza, but the fact that it also brings a bit more to the table is kinda nice.

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