Alien space traveler meets Grendel-like space monster, stowed away on the alien's spaceship, as it hurtles toward Earth and crashes into the world of 11th century Vikings, settled in their homeland of ancient Norway, is the over arching theme in this science fiction fantasy. The alien, human in every way, is played by the under appreciated Jim Caviezel. He is known by his unwelcoming Viking hosts as simply Outlander. His alien name is Kainan.
Kainan, captured by the Viking, Wulfric, played by Jack Huston, was considered to be marauding murderer of a neighboring village. He is, however, released from all suspicion when he heroically saves the life of the King, Rothgar, portrayed by character actor John Hurt, from the mauling of a large bear that some of the Viking Warriors mistake for the otherworldly Grendel creature named Moorwen. Kainan knows that deceased bear is not the ravenous Moorwen, yet he bides his time and waits for the Vikings' motivation to heed his warnings, and do all within their power to kill the murderous monster. Kainan resembles the allegorical Beowulf, from another planet rather than a far off land, as he shoulders his daring deed to save his new people, as he could not save his family from the Moorwen on his home planet. Jim Caviezel's hero is a humble alien rather than the boastful mythological Beowulf; however, his commitment to the salvation of his adoptive people is just as resolute.
Director Howard McCain's special effects are somewhat purposeful in scale within the context of this film, adding to the narrative by Dirk Blackman and himself, rather than becoming the story. The acting is consistently good, but in particular, the aforementioned Caviezel, Hurt and Ron Perlman as Gunnar, the Norse chieftain from a neighboring tribe. The film is certainly no classic, but it does share some entertainment reward, with the solid science fiction fan, who might enjoy this gruesome thriller, loosely based on the Beowulf legend, that completes itself in 115 minutes.
Rated R. Released on DVD May 19, 2009.
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