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Vikings........indians..........and dodgy american accents!
Not as bad as it sounds!
When Vikings travel across the seas and go on a rampage of killing and destruction towards the local population of indians, one of the attackers, a young viking boy, does not have the taste of blood or killer instinct of the rest.
After the victorious viking ship is destroyed by verocious seas on its journey home, only one survivor is found on the wreckage by a local indian woman, the boy.
Years on and the boy is all grown up and a part of the indian community (partially accepted and still haunted by his past). When the day comes that the vikings decide to come back for more death and destruction the viking boy turned indian has to deal with his past and remember the ways of his people. The fate of everyone he has come to know and love will depend on it.
What happens next will be an action packed showdown that can only end one way, in victory or death.
I have to admit that when I heard about this film I thought it would be something I would enjoy, but could easily see why it may not appeal to a large audience. After all, when films are made that use characters and scenery of days gone by, and then action and modern day accents are thrown in, critism is something that will flow easily.
For me Carl Urban was what made this film the great hour and a half it was. It had great action sequences tied in with what I felt was very good acting. One thing I loved was that the vikings spoke in sub-titles and the indians spoke for us to hear and listen to, something which before any one spoke, I thought was going to be the other way around.
Although a large part of this film is in the dark and alot of the action is difficult to make out because of that, I still found the overall thing very entertaining.
As far as action packed adventures go I felt that this one held its own. I have watched ot many times and will continue to put it back in the old dvd player in the future.
I paid £4.99 for this from amazon.
The running time is 1 hour and 43 mins and is certificate 15.
The dvd is packed with special features including pretty interesting deleted scenes.
WARNING, contains some spoilers.
The story follows a Viking boy who was a member of the first exploratory force to America from the Vikings. 600 years before Christopher Colombus, as the film states in it's introduction. The scene is set quite well with his childhood being introduced in the format of a dream, after he is rescued from certain starvation on an abandoned Viking ship. This dream shows his fellow kin slaughtering innocent, defenceless and helpless Native Americans. His father, the Viking leader, instructs him to slaughter a young girl. Which he refuses to do. This instance in the film is very graphic as it show a lot of blood coming from the girl's head, as her skull is smashed in from the Viking king's blade. This sort of scene is recurrent throughout the duration of the film. Malice, gruesomeness, heartlessness, realism and brutality feature all the way through the film. The fact that the child refuses to do this, and takes the punishment, shows us that he is something alot different and is special. He grows up to become Ghost, the main character.
His uniqueness follows him through the film. A viking, living with and raised by Native Americans, his appearance may be different, however his beliefs and ideals are the same, as we see towards the end of the film. This is illustrated after the second Viking force invades and Ghost fights against them to protect both the people he loves, and those that love and have protected him. The plot does not have a lot of depth to it and is not exactly gripping, however, it does develop steadily enough to mantain interest. It is slightly predictable, one man saving his race of people and winning the love of a beautiful woman is not the most original storyline in the world, though it does seem to be a successful one. It is a bit of a cliche. The fact that there are quite a few graphic action and fight sequences makes up for this fact and without these it would not be as successful. As well as this, the ending to the storyline is also quite disappointing. It is almost, "and they lived happily ever after". There are twists and turns, showing the fickleness of the Vikings, as they will kill anyone, including their fellow invaders to gain what they want. This is shown in a couple of instances, however, does not strengthen the plot at all.
Overall, the plot is weak and thin, being repetitive at times, moving along at a steady pace, with a few good action scenes. Not amazing, however, interesting enough.
Commentary by Director Marcus Nispel - This is pretty self explanatory. The director commentates throughout the duration of the film on why he decided to shoot in a certain way, and what scenes mean.
Deleted Scenes - A selection of 7 deleted scenes from the film. In this section you can chose whether or not to have the commentary on from the director. Who explains why the scenes were not kept in the final cut of the film. This is quite interesting, as it gives you an insight into the production process of a film and the different things that don't make it into the final version. Featurettes - Which involves some more sub features. These features are -
The Beginning - A short featurette about how the film came about, it is not that interesting, but puts parts of the film into perspective.
The Design - This shows the design process behind some of the special effects and scenes from the film.
The Build - A featurette illustrating how they built some of the sets. I generally don't like to watch these as i feel they tend to ruin the illusion of a film like this.
The Shoot - Behind the scenes on the set of the film.
The Stunts - Showing how the stunts were performed in the film. i.e. using wires and stuntmen.
We Shoot Now! Marcus Nispel On The Set Of Pathfinder - This is pretty self explanatory, talking to the director Marcus Nispel about the film.
Clancy Brown: Cult Hero - A biography of Clancy Brown, following him around the set and interviews with other actors talking about him.
Concept Trailer - This is the original trailer that is put forward to initiate the ideas of the writers/producers/directors, and is similar to one of the scenes kept for the final film. It does not show the actual cast of the film, as it is only a guidline to what they want to do.
Theatrical Trailer - The final trailer that is realised to advertise and promote the film. It gives an introduction on what to expect of the film and specific details. For example there are flashes of scenes, cut through by words that set the scene. Along with a voiceover, this makes for a very successful and accurate trailer, and does not misrepresent the film at all, like some trailers can do.
www.fox.co.uk - This is just an item that promotes the fox website stating that you can find exclusive content if you sign up.
*****Cast and Characters*****
Ghost - Karl Urban
Starfire - Moon Bloodgod
Pathfinder - Russell Means
Gunnar - Clancy Brown
Blackwing - Jay Tavare
Wind In Tree - Nathaniel Arcand
Ulfar - Ralf Moeller
Ghost - This is the main character of the film and is played by Karl Urban, also of The Chronicles of Riddick (Vaako) and The Lord Of The Rings (Eomer). He is introduced as a mysterious character very early on during the film and is obviously going to be the main character. He is an excellent fighter and has very strong morals and beliefes that are illustrated strongly, again, since his introduction as a child. He is the hero of the story and seems to be somewhat of an outsider.
Starfire - The heroin and what looks like the main inspiration for Ghost and his braveness. The character of Moon Bloodgod (8 Below), is introduced into the story when 2 of the native tribes come together to trade. We are given the slow motion, hair blowing in the wind introduction, which seems to come as standard when intoducing a love interest into a film. She is a strong willed character, who only features towards the end of the film, as she joins Ghost and is hunted by the Viking hoardes. She is a beautiful native girl and the daughter of the Pathfinder.
Pathfinder - This is the spiritual leader for the Native American Tribe, he is the one that everyone listens to and respects the most. He also knows, in his heart, and through his spirituality, that Ghost has something special about him. He is a very wise old man, stereotypical of one of the elders, in a Native American tribe. This character is played well by Means (The Last of the Mohicans). He brings an element of trust into the storyline, and we are able to feel for him, what the characters feel for him. Throughout the film he comes out with many sayings that help Ghost along his troublesome path. Gunnar - The leader of the second Viking invasion force. He is a formidable character, who will do anything to get what he wants. Including killing his own, loyal followers. He is a very viscious man, and this is portrayed very well by the actor, Clancy Brown (Highlander). As the featurette explains, he is a cult legend, although, i myself have never heard of him. We are made to feel a certain hatred for this disgusting man who is the opitimy of what the Viking race is known for.
My DVD has a protective carboard sleeve, with parts of the illustration being partially raised, including the title. It looks shiny, very clean and very neat. The case is very appealing, as is the picture. It shows a fight between Ghost and one of the Viking invaders with one of the Norse longboats in the background. The case is as action packed as the film.
I purchased my copy of the DVD from ASDA for £7, although this was mislabelled and was meant to be £13.97. It can now be purchased for £4.99 from play.com flying up to a massive £19.99 from PowerPlayDirect. With a range of prices in between including sendit.com (£5.89) HMV (£5.99) and Amazon (£6.43).
All prices were found using www.find-dvd.co.uk.
IMDB URL: http://imdb.com/title/tt0446013/
Rating: 15, no sex/nudity, strong violence throughout containing graphic scenes with blood.
Director: Marcus Nispel
Overall i think that this is quite a good film. It has kept me entertained throughout the duration. The storyline moves along at a steady pace, although in some parts it is quite repetitive, the action scenes make up for this. I like the way that it is shot, with a lot of dark and gloomy scenes, which help emphasise the fact that the Vikings themselves are a dark race. I felt that the characters themselves lacked profile, as we do not get to know anything about them at all, apart from Ghost, the main character. This is not a good point of one of the films. This, to me, made a lot of the performances seem lifeless, and at some points pointless. Blackwing, for example is introduced, and we see him a few times, but i do not feel anything for him as i do not know him.
*****Would I Recommend?*****
I would recommend this film to people who like similar films, such as Apocolypto and to some extent, Braveheart. The sort of historical drama and battle films. However, do not expect a gripping epic from this film as it will be sure to disappoint otherwise, as it does not compare to either of these. All in all a good film, but not worth much more than £5.
This is one of those films that as I watched it I felt that playing the video game would be a whole lot more enjoyable than watching the film, after all it is a sword weilding fantasy adventure in the Conan the Barbarian mould and it is a fairly typical fantasy film at that all be it with a bit more of a horror feel to it at times.
Karl Urban plays a Viking warrior called Ghost who as a child was abandoned by his father after the hunting party he was with were attacked while in North America however the young boy is taken in and raised by the natives of the land. When another band of Viking raiders arrive intent on destroying the natives Ghost finds himself fighting against his kinfolk to defend his adopted family and tribe.
The strengths of this film are firmly based in the action scenes with plenty of sword fighting and battle scenes, there are well structured and quite brutal in places and manage to be quite entertaining.
The major weakness of this film however is the quite awful dialogue and script, it is like an eight year old wrote it or someone who watched a load of similar films and used every bit of cliched dialogue they could come up with. The other main weakness is the fact that the plot is very unoriginal and it has been done a lot better before this film was released in 2007.
The acting is rather average, Russell Means plays a sort of ancient Joda style character as the Pathfinder while Clancy Brown plays the stereotypical bad guy.
Not a lot to recommend the film really unless you are really into this genre of film, personally I would give it a body swerve and watch Last of the Mohicans again.
Try though it might to break out of the sci-fi/fantasy mould, Pathfinder is a film you'll feel you've seen dozens of times before long prior to the credits hitting. It's a big smattering of action adventure cliches, and despite Karl Urban trying his best, the material is simply too trite to allow anyone to come off particularly well.
After his hunting party are all killed or left for dead, an unnamed Viking boy is left stuck by himself in the North American wilderness. A kind band of Native Americans take him in and raise him as their own, where he grows up to be the character portrayed by Karl Urban. The cliched plot hums in just a few moments later, as another Viking party attempts to savage the Natives, and the now "gone native" Viking must defend his homeland against the savage Vikings. Yes, we've seen this done dozens of times before - in more harmless fare such as Pocahontas and Ferngully, and other films like Dances with Wolves and Avatar (but at least that film had amazing visuals). This is a rote and totally cliched film from start to finish even if it does admittedly have some solid visuals and fun trashy action scenes.
From the sparse plotting, to the romance, to the structure of the Native American Tribe, everything has been done dozens of times before with more flair and style. The dialogue in particular is embarassingly passe, resulting in some giggles when the film is trying to be poignant and emotionally resonant. It also ends in a cringe-inducingly corny way, which again tugs at the heart strings very forcefully, which is in turn alienating and will probably leave you chuckling for a while after.
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Screenplay by: Laeta Kalogridis
Genre: Action - Adventure - Drama -Thriller - War
Released: 24th September, 2007 (DVD)
Karl Urban (Ghost)
Burkely Duffield (Ghost - 12 Years Old)
Wayne Charles Baker (Indian Father)
Michelle Thrush (Indian Mother)
Moon Bloodgood (Starfire)
Russell Means (Pathfinder)
Clancy Brown (Gunnar)
An Indian woman comes across a wrecked Viking ship, and finds a young Viking boy who is, apparently, the only survivor. Taking the child back to her village, she coaxes the elders to allow the boy, whom she names Ghost, to remain within the village, and adopts him as her own.
Fifteen years later, now grown into a man, Ghost, who has yet to prove himself as an Indian warrior, sets about to find his own path in life. When another group of murderous Vikings arrives, Ghost decides that his path lies in the annihilation of the invading barbarians. He has never forgotten the cruelty and masochistic nature of his real father, a trait seemingly possessed by all the Vikings, and therefore seeks to purge his nightmarish past from his thoughts by destroying the invaders before the invaders destroy the people he loves.
Needless to say, after having viewed the trailers for this movie, I was expecting an 'Apocalypto' type movie complete with breathtaking scenes and a compelling story. What I got was a mockery of a movie that dares to refer to itself as historical when there is absolutely no historical veracity in it.
The dialogue is absolutely inane, and the Vikings are depicted as hellish-humanoids complete with skeleton-like helmets, who are the basest of living beings, while as the Indians are depicted as the most useless. 'Pathfinder' possesses not a shred of historical fact, and is racially offensive towards the Vikings and the North American Indians.
The storyline is riddled with holes, the very first hole appearing within the first 5 minutes of the movie. The Indian woman comes across a wrecked Viking ship, however, when Ghost recalls his past, there are flashes of the Vikings massacring the Indians, flashes of Ghost's real father whipping him, but no shipwreck scenes whatsoever. So what happened?
What more can we expect from a director who has spent most of his career making pop rock video clips, and a writer whose greatest achievement was TV's 'Bionic Woman'.
When a terrified child is found abandoned in a wrecked Nordic sailboat off the coast of North American, a local tribeswoman takes the boy under her wing. Whilst she and her husband accept the youth as their own, the rest of the tribe is less willing to accept the stranger into the village and as he grows into an adult, he is treated with mistrust. But the hostility of his fellow tribe's people is nothing compared to the terror he must eventually face. When Nordic marauders return to the North American coast, he is powerless to prevent the slaughter of those he holds dear and must instead commence a game of cat and mouse with an increasingly irritated group of Viking warriors, intent on wiping him and the rest of his kind out once and for all.
Think Apocalypto meets Dances with Wolves and, plot-wise at least, you'll be some way to understanding what Pathfinder is all about. Historic action / plight dramas are all in fashion you see, at least they were until music-video director Marcus Nispel came along and got (most of) it wrong.
For sheer pace, it's hard to find fault with Pathfinder, given only that it barely pauses to take breath from the moment it first starts. Cut from the same cloth as Mel Gibson's Mayan terror movie, Apocalypto, Pathfinder quickly develops into a brisk sequence of chases, hunts and booby traps as our erstwhile withdrawn hero suddenly develops a hidden talent to stalk and kill. It's all fairy tale stuff, of course, but given that your average audience loves a tale about one man's triumph against overwhelming odds, it's initially hard to believe that Nispel messed it all up quite as much as the critics would have you believe.
In fairness, it's not completely true that he does. For starters, Pathfinder looks gorgeous amidst its snowy, mountainous North American setting, where Nispel captures the icy beauty of the Alaskan landscape through a frosty lens. Sure enough, Nispel uses the landscape at its most treacherous to help our hero set a series of traps and booby-traps to outwit his Nordic assailants and you can't really fault the feeling of authenticity that surrounds the setting. It's wonderfully grisly too, with all manner of delightful deaths and tortures slipped in to entertain the most bloodthirsty of viewers.
Where it all goes wrong, however, is that there's really nothing for the audience to believe in here. Whether or not you subscribe to the historical accuracy of a Nordic presence in North America doesn't change the fact that there's an inherent awkwardness about who's chasing who here. Legend may tell us that the Vikings ransacked one village after another, but the wanton destructiveness here feels almost forced, as though the director is insistent that this becomes a tale of good versus pure evil. The Vikings are menacing enough, but the script writer's insistence to portray them in such an evil light starts to become rather excessive. Of course, as double-hard bad guys it's important that we cower in fear of their strength so they randomly kill one another and sew up their eye sockets as readily as their North American counterparts might make a fish stew or hang up a dream catcher. Indeed, the portrayal of the North American Indians is equally clumsy, with the usual clichéd dialogue filled with nonsensical spiritual references to a "pathfinder", a man or role that never really becomes that clear. There's probably a point to this film; it's just wasted on anybody choosing to watch it.
Our hero (Ghost) is a strange fellow who never really feels like a proper hero; Karl Urban always acting rather like one of those dogs wearing an anti-scratch collar. He keeps looking around rather sheepishly in case anybody watches. It's not hard to see where Urban's sheepish acknowledgement of the film's ridiculous plot lines comes from. In spite of sub-zero temperatures, the creative team are insistent that Urban wears as little as possible, so he goes crashing through snowy woodlands and plunges into freezing cold lakes, wearing nothing more than a slightly worn-looking loin cloth. He doesn't seem terribly bright either, at one point trying to get rid of the whole bunch of Vikings in one hit with an ill-conceived plan that threatens to drown him as quickly and readily as his Nordic pursuers. It's not helped by the fact that Nispel provides nobody for us to root for. Ghost just looks sheepish, his love interest Starfire looks frightened and his mute sidekick looks doomed, particularly due to his inability to shout "look behind you". The Vikings are infinitely more interesting, although being able to distinguish between any of them becomes increasingly difficult in the continuously dark action scenes.
Within the genre, there are far better examples of this kind of movie; Apocalypto and The Last Samurai spring to mind. Indeed, Nispel himself is capable of much more - his remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was competently frightening. Pathfinder itself is, indeed, a remake of an older film, but doesn't bode well for Nispel's future output if this is the standard by which he is to be measured.
The region 2 DVD was released in 2007 and is widely available for around £9.
Pathfinder is a curious, cross-genre movie with elements of horror, sword-clanging fantasy, historical fiction, and Native American mysticism. A classic story of an outsider-hero, Pathfinder is set approximately five centuries before the arrival of Columbus in the New World, a time when Vikings were claiming real estate in Greenland and eastern North America. A young Norse boy is abandoned by his disapproving, conqueror-father and adopted by an aboriginal tribe. He grows up to become Ghost (Karl Urban), almost-but-not-entirely accepted by natives, yet a fierce swordsman and defender of Indians after a terrible assault on those whom he loves best. Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) plays the fiercest of the invaders, a merciless leader who tangles with Ghosts inherent prowess as a fighter, and engages in a psychological as well as physical struggle with him in the films final third, which involves a harrowing journey through an avalanche-prone mountain path. Russell Means (The Last of the Mohicans) is a typically comforting presence as the all-wise Pathfinder, leader of a tribal nation and Ghosts supporter, while Moon Bloodgood (Eight Below) is outstanding as a love interest with nerves of steel. Marcus Nispel (who directed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) guides the brutal if often exhilarating action as if it were amplified history. He makes the point for a contemporary audience that Vikings were as terrifying a danger to those whom they conquered as, say, Klingons are in Star Trek--precisely by making his Vikings seem so reminiscent of Klingons. --Tom Keogh