Written by: alien25
It never ceases to amaze me how the American movie industry works. I guess it should be no surprise given that it is simply a microcosm of the political culture in this country. Its all about politics and money. Unfortunately, more often than not, that culture benefits the few while leaving the majority out in the cold. But fortunately for those in the movie world who are patient enough, there are other avenues by which they can get their movie fix when they have been left out in the cold by the studios. When a film is not released theatrically, or has a very limited release, one can generally count on it eventually getting a DVD release at some point. And more often than not, that time frame is pretty quick in this day and age. Yet it is still bothersome to me, that as viewers, we often have to wait for its DVD release to see a quality movie, while garbage and watered down remakes receive wide theatrical releases. Case in point, the movie Outlander. One would assume that since it received a very limited theatrical release the film probably has flaws which would prevent it from seeing a wider release. After watching the film this last weekend, I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth.
The year is 709 AD. A spaceship crashes into a Norwegian lake. One lone astronaut, Kainan, survives the crash and swims to shore dragging a dead crewmate. The injury to his dead crewmate seems to suggest that his death was not the result of the crash. This notion is reinforced when Kainan discovers a village completely rampaged and devoid of all life. But before he can investigate further, he is captured by a tribe of Norsemen. Awakening in their village, he attempts to warn his captors of the imminent danger. Wary of their prisoner and fearful that they will be blamed for the destruction of their neighboring village, the Norsemen put little credence into the Outlander’s wild tales. It is only after their village is attacked by a strange beast that they realize that the Outlander did not come alone, and that they will need his help to rid them selves of his deadly stowaway. Now, using only the weapons of his Viking captors, Kainan and the Norsemen must work together to find a way to defeat their deadly menace.
I went into this movie with very high expectations. And while it was quite different than I had anticipated, I was not in the least disappointed. I expected an action packed science fiction monster movie along the lines of an Aliens or AVP Requiem. The only difference being that it takes place during the Iron Age. What I got instead was a very well crafted movie in the vein of a mythical dragon tale, one which I very much enjoyed. The production was simply top notch, from the cinematography to the cast. I mean how can you go wrong with a cast that includes John Hurt, Jim Caviezel, and Ron Pearlman? The performances all around were strong, with James Caviezel playing the understated hero Kainan, and John Hurt as King Rothgar. Ron Pearlman plays Rothgar’s rival in King Gunnar. I found myself dreamingly thinking of King Rothgar’s daughter Freya, played by Sophia Myles, whose girl next door beauty fit the role perfectly. Jack Huston was excellent as Wulfric the over anxious heir to King Rothgar’s throne. The very original story is delivered adeptly and with out a hitch by director Howard McCain. And the locations and photography beautifully captured the look and feel of Iron Age Norway. The special effects were excellent. Given that the story takes place on Earth in 709 AD, the film is not burdened with over the top CGI. Where used, it is excellent, blending seamlessly in the film. And oh yeah, there is of course the beasty, the Moorwen. They managed to create an original and very cool monster to wreak havoc upon the Norsemen.
So, being impressed and having thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I have to wonder why exactly it did not receive a wider theatrical release. Clearly the production values alone in my mind would warrant one. It would be easy to chalk it up to the fact that the Weinsteins are the distributers, given their propensity to screw things up, at least in the eyes of genre fans. Or the idea that it is business as usual for the American movie industry. Or could it be a result of the things that set this movie apart from other genre offerings? It does not fit comfortably in a single genre, beautifully blending elements of science fiction, horror, history and mythology. And its setting is unusual given all of these story elements. So perhaps Outland is a victim of its own uniqueness. If the film makers had chosen instead to emulate other sci-fi horror movies, then we might have been seen a wider theatrical release. I for one am glad that they took a chance and decided to make something unique and original. And even though I had to wait until it was released on DVD to see the film, I would have to say that it was well worth the wait.