Outlander has the feel of a movie hovering in the middle ground between theatrical release and straight to video. Although to be fair, there have been some dreadful movies released to the theater that Outlander clearly overtakes in both quality and value for your dollar.It is a well shot period piece of Norway in the 700’s with a strand of sci-fi weaved throughout. It is a different kind of role than one you might expect from Jim Caviezel. However after my initial impression of him as a slightly atypical leading man, I did not once question his acting or actions for the rest of the film. Sophia Myles did a good job as the female lead and love interest.
Despite the strong supporting cast of John Hurt and Ron Pearlman the movie felt a little small; a little “Sci-fi Channel-ish”. But let me be clear it was miles ahead of most made for Sci-fi Channel movies. Perhaps this smallness was due to the script which kept the bulk of the movie localized to a few nearby areas. There were a couple welcome flashbacks to another world which helped set the context.
The monsters they fought, aliens from a conquered world, seemed extraoidinarily powerful. Too powerful IMO. Glimpsed on their homeworld as quiet dirt digging herbivores, they become nothing short of vicious killing machines with a voracious appetite for rotting human flesh. Their abilities, never clearly defined seemed to include long range killing tendrils, uncanny movement and near invulnerability.
There were a couple political statements, one of which was certainly unnecessary and betrayed the typical Hollywood anti-Christian bias. That one involved making the local priest look like an idiot, walk up to the monster praying against it and get skewered. The entire portrayal if the priest was the weak Hollywood stereotype we see all over.
The other political statement involved the lead’s people wiping out the monsters so they could take their planet. They were greedy for land. It was a little heavy handed, but there was not a lot of time to elaborate. While the reasoning was shallow, it was good enough (but could have been much more).
The glimpses of tech were interesting. The action was pretty good. The story was rather predictable and filled with the script sterotypes we all know and love. The pretty but fierce fighter girl who does not want to marry the boorish brute. The boorish brute who would be king and only learns the error of his ways in the end. The orphaned boy who touches the heart of the hero. The wise and elderly father trying to make things right before he passes away (in act three).
One note on the tech. When the hero learns the local language by having it forced into his brain via his distress beacon, it is terribly invasive and painful. It is an interesting hint at the people behind the tech and partially explains their willingness to wipe out a planet of dragons.
If you feel like having a mostly fun romp fighting dragon-like monsters in ancient Norway this movie is for you. If you want to sit and see something that will not surprise you but will entertain you, this movie is for you.