Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I have made it very clear on numerous occasions that I have a soft spot for monster movies that just won’t go away. It is probably no coincidence that the Korean monster movie ‘The Host’ was one of my top flicks of 2006 and that the POV monster movie ‘Cloverfield’ was one of the best of for 2008. I love a monster movie brother. Now I don’t know if this movie ‘Outlander’ will be on the top of my list for 2009, especially considering I don’t really make out those mythical lists that I was just talking about, but with a completely unbelievably wacky premise, a most unlikely mixture of genres and a monster that is filled with hate, anger, and is also damn near invincible… I’m liking ‘Outlanders’ chances.

A spaceman calling himself Kanan (Jim Caviezel), but whom the Vikings will term the Outlander has crash landed on this rock called earth sometime in the middle of the medieval ages. He’s injured, his partner has been brutally murdered, his ship is beyond repair and that’s the good news. After doing some futuristic spaceman type stuff to familiarize himself with his surroundings and learn the language, Kanan is hunting for something, and once we see the gutted blue whale a good mile inland and the blood splattered remains of some unfortunate villagers, we do hope he finds what he is looking for sooner than later.

Unfortunately Kanan won’t have this chance as he is captured by a tribe of warring Vikings led by the ancient Rothgar (John Hurt) who along with his brash and impetuous eventual successor Wulfric (Jack Huston) and his hostile daughter Freya (Sophia Myles) observe the strange man, thinking him to be part of another Viking tribe that they are fighting with. Kanan assures them this is not the case and instead attempts to inform these people that he is instead hunting dragons, or more accurately a Moorwen as he calls it, that has hitched a ride on his spaceship and has some really bad intentions. Naturally these pagan worshipping fools don’t believe him, that is until

the slaughtering starts. And what glorious slaughtering it is as the Moorwen eats and beheads and slices and eviscerates and drowns and sets folks on fire all, the while seemingly taunting our man Kanen who he seems to has something personal going on with. Oh, did I say ‘he’? Maybe I misspoke a little bit there. Regardless, Kanan and his Viking brothers throw everything they have at this red and blue glowing beast with the cat-o-nine tails stuck to its ass, unable to make a dent. Eventually our hero and a few of the bravest remaining Vikings are going to have to descend into the lair of the beast, with the fair maiden Freya in distress, in a final glorious showdown with both man and beast looking for some tasty revenge.

Surely one would think that a movie that has a concept that consists of Medieval Man meets Space Man meets Mini Godzilla with a stealth mode would have absolutely no chance of working. Well I will have you know that not only does ‘Outlander’ work, but for this movie watcher it works wonderfully. Director and co-writer Howard McCain understands the true tenement of any monster movie, and that is that it’s all about the monster. All that other stuff, while important, is secondary and tertiary… but if you have a cool monster then I'm of the belief that things will generally take care of themselves. Thus I’ll have you know that the Moorwen is a cool ass monster. It’s wonderfully designed, it’s beautifully animated, it’s mean, vicious, unforgiving, violent and they even gave it little personality. An unpleasant personality, but a personality nonetheless.

Of course the movie was at its best when the monster was straight up putting folks in harms way, but the story supporting the monster movie actually made more sense than it has any right to and had a cast that had way more talent the movie probably needed. In addition to the audacity of having an alliance between Vikings and spacemen, ‘Outlander’ has a script that delves into the burgeoning religion of Christianity, confronting Norse Paganism and outright atheism. The movie is also chock full of the typical stuff you see in any standard action adventure such as inner conflicts, damsels in distress, loss, regret, melodramatic tragedy and plenty of cheesy dialog, but when you have actors of the pedigree of John Hurt, Sophia Myles and Ron Perlman reciting this dialog it still manages to sound pretty good.

There is hardly a dull moment in ‘Outlander’ as it is filled with plenty of murdering monster mayhem, monster hunting, and when the Vikings aren't monster hunting they’re killing each other. Outstanding. Take it with a grain of salt because like I said I love me some monster movies, and I loved this monster movie. If you don’t like monster movies then I’m not too sure there’s much else to recommend here for you, but it does prompt one to ask ‘what in the world is wrong you that makes you not like monster movies?’

Real Time Web