Aliens! Vikings! Dragons!
Oh how easy the pitch for Outlander must have been. Conventional wisdom has it, of course, that Hollywood loves high concept. The fewer words it takes to explain your script, the easier it is to get people interested, making it more likely to actually get made. Outlander can be decently summed up in the three words that open this review.
To use a few more words, Jim Caviezel’s Kainan is a human-looking alien who crash-lands in Viking-era Norway, bringing with him the dragon that caused his ship to crash. (If we’re semantic about it, the dragon is actually an alien creature called a Moorwen.) Kainan is captured by a tribe of Vikings, earning their trust when he kills a bear that they believe to be the cause of an attack on the village. Of course, it’s actually the Moorwen, and Kainan stays to help them fight it.
It’s all perfectly standard action fare, but it’s well executed, with some good action scenes. Ron Perlman has a great turn as warhammer-wielding Gunnar, and John Hurt is almost hilariously archetypal as King Rothgar. Sophia Myles is perfectly passable as romantic interest Freya, while Jack Huston is surprisingly good as rival-turned-friend Wulfric (one aspect of the story that was far better than early scenes telegraph).
The CGI is relatively cheap fare, but I do remember thinking in the cinema that it was remarkable how much cheap CGI buys you these days, as it’s passable in all respects and far better than I expected in many.
Overall, Outlander is a decently entertaining way to pass a couple of hours. It’s nothing special, but it’s a well executed, action B-movie of the type that we don’t see a huge amount of these days. B.