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Sci-fi Monster movie starring Jim Caviezel

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  • Jul 21, 2009

It would be easy to dismiss “OUTLANDER” as another direct-to-dvd popcorn snooze, but surprisingly, director Howard McCain effectively mixes in elements of a Norse-based adventure, science fiction and even an effective monster feature. It also has the cool elements that the male audience would be interested in; swordplay, macho posturing while using the backdrop of a period where superstition and myth reigns supreme. Oh, did I already mention that the film features a blood-thirsty monster from another planet?
Norway, 709 A.D. A spaceship crashes down to Earth, its lone survivor, an alien male called Kainan (Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ) is left with very limited means in his quest to destroy a creature that has stowed away on board. Kainan follows a familiar pattern of destruction which leads him to be captured by a clan of Vikings who would like to get to the bottom of such destruction. Winning over the clan’s king, Rothgar (John Hurt) and his daughter Freya (Sophie Myles), Kainan becomes poised to lead the charge against the Moorwen, an alien monster from another planet who had developed a taste for human flesh. Joining the charge is the head of a rival clan, Gunnar (Ron Perlman, Hellboy 2) as Kainan and Wulfric (Jack Huston) set out to vanquish the Moorwen, only to find that the primitive weapons of this time is no use against the ferociously, ravenous alien beast. Kainan had found something worth fighting for, but can courage and ingenuity truly win the day?

“Outlander” may not be exactly groundbreaking but it makes use of its good points to generate an entertaining experience. The film is a straight-to-your-gut monster movie, with mild staples of sci-fi elements nicely mixed in with its Norse backdrop. The film isn’t trying to be overly ambitious but it does know its target audience--it manipulates the male testosterone all the while appealing with its B-Grade charisma. Director Howard McCain knows how to appeal to those with a fetish for monster mayhem; it is full of bloody action and swordplay. The direction takes an almost “comic book-like” tone, with a cinematography that displays incredible scenery for this amazing events.
Amid all the monster mayhem, the film does have some strong bits of characterization. Kainan is a man torn by guilt with his alien race being hinted as nomads who takes over any habitable planet, even if it belonged to someone else. The links between him and the creature may have vengeance as the common denominator; Kainan wishes to avenge his family’s death and the creature for his own kind. Kainan finds that he has similarities to this tribe of Vikings, and much like “Dances with Wolves” learns to love and respect them. His developing friendship with Rothgar, a rivalry with Wulfric and a boy named Eric are brought into exposition, as he even begins to harbor feelings for Freya, despite his love for his dead wife. Despite the fact that Kainan is an alien, he acts very human with out sensibilities.

The Viking clan are also developed as we are privy to their customs and their entertainment. We see them eat, dance, and play; they do act like Vikings. They are unkempt, dirty, and very rough around the edges. McCain does give us an idea of the Viking lifestyle, these guys do love wild boar and mead. It was also an exercise in careful scripting that the Vikings have become aware of Christianity, although it was a little underdeveloped that the idea felt a little forced.
This film has adventure written all over it, as the direction takes the action to caves, forests, underground and even underwater at times. The screenplay does succeed to generate some thrills as the Vikings do more than fight, as they try to cope with this other worldly menace with swords, axes, arrows and wobbly shields. The script is clever enough to guide out protagonists through this problem, with a sense of trial and error. Yes, “Outlander” does have numerous “Man Versus Monster” match ups--if at first you don’t succeed, try again. The creature designs are inventive enough to keep me interested, it is however, a little disappointing that the creature is mostly designed from CGI. The CGI rendering feels a little uneven, as some shots look better than others. The film does have a mix of old-fashioned blood and gore on some kill scenes which pleased me, and the den of the beast was freaky, as we see its feeding ground.

“Outlander” is a film with a nicely drawn-out plot and the script stays grounded enough to keep the flaws of the CGI effects from notice, as the creature is proven to have more personality than your usual eating machine. It is a refreshing approach to develop a monster that appears as a blood-thirsty beast at first look. The film does have some plot missteps as the third act requires a large suspension of disbelief. I find it hard to believe that any metal that can withstand re-entry in the atmosphere can be re-forged through the usual means. However, the film’s script also manages to keep its energy as the film kept on moving.
I guess “Outlander” is worth a look. It is a great exercise in genre entertainment that has full-blooded adventure, action, sci-fi and a nice monster feature to get the job done in viewing entertainment. It is just responsive to genre needs; swords fashioned from a space craft, Viking fights, machismo, a glowing monster and even features a tattooed, hammer wielding Ron Perlman. The film is very easy to like and have fun with.
Recommended! [3 ½ + Out of 5 Stars]

Poster Gunnar Kainan and Freya Viking ship Wulfric and Kainan Viking rumble!

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July 25, 2009
Oh yeah, it does look like it has me written all over it in spite of the musical score on the trailer. I hate that stuff. The only thing that could make this flick any more enticing was if somebody got a pie in the face.
July 25, 2009
Yep. this one's for you, Karen. I had a lot of fun with it. Simple movie but it is easy to like. Pie in the face ?...I think there was wild boar on the face....LOL
July 25, 2009
I just mean if some unexpected comedy showed up that would make it perfect. There probably is wild boar and lots of other stuff on their faces in this flick though.
July 25, 2009
Karen, you should check out the live action version of "Blood the Last Vampire" also has that low-budget charm.
July 25, 2009
Its not so much that I'm drawn to "low budget charm" its that I think they often manage to come up with better ideas than you find in big budget studio flix. I've never heard of that one, Woop. Is that the title or did you leave out a word?
July 25, 2009
I agree. The better ideas are coming from the low-budget flicks. I think maybe it's because there is so much money involved in mainstream Hollywood that too many opinions make up its production. IMO the director and the writer should have exclusive creative control. Yep, that's the whole title, I think you may like it, it managed to make the lead charatcer one compelling individual.
July 25, 2009
I think you're right about Hollywood, too many chiefs. That's why films wind up with an identity crisis. I moved OUTLANDER up to #1 on my NetFlix list. I'm going to check and see if they have the other flick you mentioned.
July 26, 2009
The live action version of "Blood the Last Vampire" was on a limtited screening in theaters recently, but you can add it to your netflix queve. I uploaded the trailer in this site. It was directed by the guy who helmed "Kiss of the Dragon"...
July 26, 2009
It doesn't take too long for things to come to video anymore. Let's hope.
More OUTLANDER reviews
Quick Tip by . November 23, 2009
A guilty pleasure, OUTLANDER sat on shelves for 2 yrs before getting a limited theatrical release. Dragons & Vikings & Aliens, oh my!
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Outlander is a 2008 science fiction film directed by Howard McCain and starring James Caviezel. Caviezel has described Outlander to be a light combination of Braveheart and Highlander.

Outlander begins when a spacecraft crashes onto planet earth. The ship lands in Norway during the time of the Vikings, 709 A.D. From the wreckage emerges a soldier from another world – Kainan – who hunts a vicious, photo-luminescent creature known as the Moorwen. Man and monster both seek revenge for violence committed against them. As the Moorwen ravages the Viking lands, killing everything in its path, Kainan forms an alliance with the primitive but fierce warriors. Whilst trying to hunt for the Moorwen, war brews among the Vikings, which culminated with both sides taking immense losses. As the enemy Vikings retreat into the forests, the Moorwen strikes, leaving the vikings no choice but to run for help to their once close enemies. Together, the two sides attempt to destroy the Moorwen. The village takes massive casualties, including one of the tribal kings. The village in fear and its warriors demoralised, most of the vikings leave the village in search of a new home and safety. Kainan and the remaining warriors stand together to destroy the Moorwen. Kainan assists the Vikings by salvaging pieces of his crashed spacecraft and forging weapons capable of harming the creature. After a harrowing journey, the Vikings and Kainan confront the Moorwen in a desperate struggle to survive. ...

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