Spoilers ahead, folks.
Outlander is yet another of those genre films to come out well under the Hollywood radar in recent years, despite performances from James Caviezel and John Hurt. In this case, it's probably a good thing, as the film fails to live up to anything aside from its crude existence as a composite of other, far better films. Essentially, take Beowulf and The 13th Warrior, soap them up in some Predator and Enemy Mine, and then dry them off with a Lord of the Rings towel. Voila, you have Outlander.
It's a sad thing, too, because a movie with this very same plot could have turned out well if hadn't been content with its mediocrity. Kainen is a man from a distant world spanning civilization who has crashed on Earth, in Norway, 8th century. He conveniently is discovered by the handsome Wulfric (played by Jack Huston), and brought to the largest local settlement, presided over by Rothgar (John Hurt). Of course, Rothgar's beautiful daughter Freya (Sophia Myles), 10x more beautiful than any of the other Viking women around her, has eyes for the Outlander immediately! They slowly fall in love throughout the film. Oh for the love of Christ.
But all is not well...because...get this, SOMETHING ELSE FOLLOWED KAINEN HERE! Alien, Predator, Enemy Mine...you know the score. One of the last remnants of a race Kainen's people wiped out to colonize a new homeworld. The tragedy here is that his people didn't realize the creatures (the Moorwen) were vengeful and somewhat intelligent. So, one has followed Kainen to this planet, and it begins destroying everything in sight, displaying varying levels of intelligence throughout the film. For most of the run time, it uses stealth to snare its foes, easily picking them off. But for some inane reason, there is the inevitable 'showdown' scene, where the creature suddenly decided it will face the village head on (the 'trap' sequence).
Ach...Hans...run...it is the Moorwen! Now, this picture might not show it, but the creature actually looks pretty cool, this is one of the highlights of the film. It's similar to a large displacer beast (D&D fans rejoice), complete with pseudopods that it can whip around to snare and decapitate the unwary. It also uses luminescence to enthrall and trap its foes. Kind of cool, honestly. Of course, this Moorwen isn't alone. There is the inevitable BABY MOORWEN OF DEATH! Graarrrr! What the fuck. Yes, for real.
The cinematography is decent, much like other films of this sort to come out in recent years (action epics like Apocalypto, BC, and Pathfinder). The score is average, and there are no memorable themes here. It's not a complete disgrace to Norse culture but it cheapens it to cliches, and you lose a lot of that raw thrill. Had the film been shot in Old Norse (it's only spoken a few times, as they take the 'translator' implant sci-fi cliche) it would have greatly improved the mood. The performances are all pretty dull, Caviezel and Hurt try their best, as does Ron Perlman in his role as the hammer-slinging chieftain/antagonist Gunnar, but they have so little to work with. The action is average at best, there is some gore involved but not a lot in the way of creative death. Decapitations, guys getting their chests ripped out, basically the same shit you've seen in any movie like this. There is a pretty tragic and touching flashback in which Kainen's people are purging the Moorwens from their world in a massive firestorm. You can really feel sorry for these creatures. It's the best scene in the movie.
The film was directed by the little-known Howard McCain, who also wrote it. Unfortunately, he's also writing a new Conan feature. He's going to have to do a lot better than this, or you can consider that childhood fondness raped into the dirt.
The bottom line is the movie was an uninteresting pastiche of other plots and better movies that had come out before. It's just as mediocre as the recent Pathfinder, another film that failed to give us thrilling Viking action, or the dull animated Beowulf feature. You're better off watching The 13th Warrior any day of the week. Actually, how about manning the fuck up and tracking down a copy of 1958's The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas.
You can thank me later.
Verdict: Fail (4/10)