Monday, July 30

Led Astray

Vikings versus Indians. Cool, right? Wrong...

Okay, today wasn't a very good day for movies. Me and my bud Pot had intended to watch The Simpsons Movie at Greenhills, but we ended up giving up when we were faced with the prospect of a 2-hour wait to the next showing. So we just passed the time looking around Shoppesville and V-Mall for stuff and then going on home to crash at The Sanctum. For some reason, we ended up popping in Pathfinder into the DVD player. Pathfinder is a pretty recent movie, but I remember it just came and went in theaters locally. The poster looked cool, but the trailer was a mess of gory stuff that I just didn't find enticing. Well anyway...

Pathfinder is set hundreds of years before Columbus discovered America, and is all about the Viking expeditions that apparently made their way into Indian territory. The film opens with a young Viking boy and apparent survivor of one such expedition being found by an Indian woman. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed youth is taken in by the Indians despite being a child of the 'Dragon Men' (the Indians' name for the Vikings) since Indians are like that. The kid soon grows up into a young man named 'Ghost'(Karl Urban of LOTR fame and Doom Infamy). He's of course an outcast to some of the Indians, but liked by many of the ladies, particularly one lovely lady named Starfire, the daughter of the local Pathfinder, or shaman. Ghost however is continually reminded that he is not of the Indians' blood, and his path lies somewhere else.

To crash the tranquil life of the natives, the Vikings return. Now, these aren't nice cartoony Vikings like Hagar the Horrible. They're not honorable warriors like the guys who accompanied Antonio Banderas in 13th Warrior. Nope... these guys are more like the URUK-HAI. I mean, these guys look, sound and act like they walked straight out of flamin' MORDOR. These are nightmarish, horrific, faceless, horned and armored monsters who kill for sport and nothing more. Of course, what do these baddies do? They start hacking Ghost's Indian people into bloody chunks, and aim to do the same to everyone else on the continent, apparently. Of course, the Indians don't stand a chance... good thing they got an Indian-raised Viking Warrior on their side.

Okay, at this point, all sense seems to fly out the window as Karl Urban suddenly becomes a master of the Viking Sword despite the fact that he has received no training at all from anyone in the use of the metal weapons. At the start, the Vikings kill everyone in their path with no resistance whatsoever, and seem invincible. Then Ghost shows up, and he starts killing them in droves. Heck, as long as Ghost is there, even the Indian girl Starfire gets to scratch off Vikings herself. But it really doesn't matter since, despite arriving in apparently just three longships, there seems to literally be no end to the enemy numbers. For every seven killed, another horde shows up. What the heck? Is there a Viking re-spawn point somewhere I missed? No matter how many Ghost kills, it eventually takes both a frozen lake and an avalanche to finally kill off these Terminator-like invaders.

No matter that Indians are supposed to be fierce warriors in their own right, learned in the ways of the land and their environment. Here, they're either cowardly sissies or idiots who walk into their own traps, can't defend themselves for shit, and can't outrun heavily-armored Vikings who are totally alien to the vast land.

HECK, in one crazy stretch as Ghost and his friends are being hunted by the Vikings in a dark cavern, time and again a Viking sneaks up on them DESPITE being in full armor. Apparently the Vikings are also half-Japanese, able to move silently like frickin' NINJA until they are within inches of their prey, at which point they just habitually give themselves away with a loud "HA!!!"

The action drags for far too long; Ghost kills Vikings ala Die Hard. Ghost kills Vikings ala Rambo. There's even a bit borrowed from King Arthur (another crapper). But in the end, the Indians still get their arses kicked so many times it begins to feel masochistic and repetitive. When the final Endgame kicks in and Ghost tricks the Vikings into a lethal trap on an icy mountain, the film STILL can't get the hint and finish stuff cleanly, needing to drag out things unnecessarily. I mean, I half-expected the Vikings to rise out of the climactic avalanche and still kill a hundred Indians or so before finally keeling over.

Oh, and did I mention the acting sucks? The indians are as wooden as their useless weapons, and there are derivative lines of dialogue like "You speak in riddles, old man," and "Fight and you die. Leave, and you may live," all over the place.

Poor Karl Urban yet again gets himself into another crappy action film. I mean, I like the guy. He has a good look, but this kind of junk doesn't do his career any good. I blame the director and the writer for this particular film. Unlike good action heroes of old, Urban isn't allowed to look strong enough. He is never cool or bad-ass enough in this film, as he should for a revenge-payback theme like this one. In any case, the bad acting, horrible dragged-out pace and overly gory Pathfinder is something he should never have wandered into.

Karl Urban vainly tries to escape the horror of his latest bad movie.

This film should appeal for gore buffs, since the bloody action is pretty brutal- in fact, the imagery and cinematography is perhaps the only good thing about the film, capturing the look and feel of Frank Frazetta's barbarian artworks. Oh, and there's Clancy Brown as the evil Viking leader, who is actually pretty cool. Aside from that... this is a movie neither modern day- Norse or Indian descendants would be proud of, since it slams both their cultures with the subtlety of a fist to the nose. I'd tell Pathfinder to get lost.

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