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Outlander (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000119703
Added by: Si Wooldridge
Added on: 24/8/2009 19:56
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    There have been some fine genre match-ups over the decades from Space Marines vs Aliens, Mega-Shark versus Giant Octopus and now, alien monster versus Vikings.  Oh, yes.  Iron age Nordic warriors with big 'taches and even bigger beards take on big scary monster with nothing more than wooden shields, iron swords and the chance to recount the tale around the campfire…
    It's 709AD on Earth and Kainen (James Caviezel) crash lands in fjords of Norway in his big shiny spaceship, and swims to shore with his injured captain before collapsing of exhaustion.  The following morning Kainen discovers that his captain has been mutilated and killed, and sets off into the nearby woods to find out by whom; shedding his armoured spacesuit but taking a suitably big gun.  A short while later, Kainen comes across the burnt wreckage of a village with no sign of any bodies but tell tale signs that this was caused by the same creature that killed his captain.
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    Unfortunately before he can go hunting again, Kainen is outwitted by a couple of Vikings on horseback and not only loses his weapon but also consciousness.  Taken hostage and dragged by to a local Viking settlement, Kainen is blamed for the destruction of the other settlement by Wulfric (Jack Huston) and Kainen's explanation that he was hunting a dragon meets scorn and a couple of blows to the head.  Wulfric believes that now is the time to strike at rival leader Gunnar (Ron Perlman), who incidentally killed Wulfric's father who was King of this band of Nordic tribesmen.  Rothgar (John Hurt), brother to the fallen King and therefore current monarch, believes in peace and is reluctant to start war on their neighbouring rivals.
    Despite his prisoner status, Kainen soon proves his mettle in battle and also proves the existence of the dragon he was hunting, a species known as Moorwen that he had actually brought to Norway accidentally and was the cause of his ship crashing.  Kainen also finds attention from Rothgar's daughter Freya (Spohia Myles) who was slated to marry the rather impatient and arrogant Wulfric, but despite this, the two warriors forge an alliance to hunt down the threat of the Moorwen…
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    Commentary - didn't listen to it so idea who it's with or what it's like…
    Deleted scenes - can only be watched in a single block and includes an opening sequence in all its pre-production glory that I think is would have been a great exploratory opening other than the fact that they've effectively used it for the closing sequence.
    Visual Effects Tests - no commentary or interviews, just a series of shots with cutbacks to show what was done, whether green-screen or animatronics
    Animatics - animated storyboards, again with no commentary or explanation
    Making Of - usual EPK stuff, nothing worthwhile in it really
    Artwork Galleries - quite simply some stunning artwork on show here…
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    This is not a new idea in having monsters contained in myth having extraterrestrial origins, just as it has been theorised that Gods worshipped by ancient cultures were actually spacefarers.  Outlander is essentially a revisit of the Beowulf and Grendel myth, and a rather good one at that.  I'd seen the trailer a while ago and thought it looked promising and then saw a lot of critical disdain at the full release, so I was a little wary of this when it arrived through the letterbox. 
    What I found though was a well-thought out and executed genre film with a few, but not too many, flaws.  Caviezel is a rather moody lead and reminds me of Christian Bale quite a bit, whilst the remainder of the cast play their parts well.  I thought that the Wulfric character would be in constant conflict with Kainen due not least to the romatic interest from Freya, but that was quickly forgotten and made for a better film in all honesty.  Also, John Hurt and Ron Perlman played their parts perfectly, with Perlman only having a minor role, but seemingly relishing it.
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    Words of credit need also to go to the Special and Visual FX teams as the effects in this film really are superb, whether the creature shots which were very imaginative or the flashback shots of Kainen's home planet and backstory (which also gives away how the last Moorwen survived…).  There's also some nice touches such as at pretending to speak Norse, for which Kainen has to have the language implanted retinally and painfully.  Some nice attention to detail adds to the suspension of disbelief and makes the whole thing just that little bit more believable.
    So, Vikings versus alien?  Bring it on…

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