Where to begin? I am so sorry I saw this film, but even more, I am irritated that they squandered such a cool idea for a movie. Basically, Vikings come to the New World, slaughter a slew of Native Canadians, for reasons unclear. A Viking lad (called, apparently, Ghost) gets left behind and, Tarzan-like, is raised by the morally superior “savages” before his people come back and – wait, guess who is his adoptive family’s only hope? That plotline isn’t even the bad part.
Pathfinder’s crimes, in no particular order, are:
1. No one is named by anyone, so characters blur together
2. Sets feel small, fake, and temporary
3. Culture shock is taken with stride, which is insanely ridiculous
4. Motivation is non-existent on all sides (besides of course, try not to die)
5. Dialogue and scenes are choppy and sloppy
6. It’s so obviously British Columbia and not the eastern shores that they might as well not even pretend otherwise
8. Drags interminably
9. Literally took one hour and 25 minutes of its “only” 99 minutes to begin the plot arc that one actually can get invested in
10. Made my companion feel claustrophobic despite the admittedly gorgeous Pacific Northwest scenery and all-outdoor setting.
11. Reinforced cinematic stereotype that the oppressed ethnic peoples of the world need the white man to save them, even when they are morally superior
I was so irritated that I paid money to see this that I snuck into two movies afterward to feel better about my investment. How cool it would have been to explore the notion of Native Canadians seeing metal and horses and ships and the scary armored, bearded, tall, pale monsters of Scandinavia for the first time. How interesting to take a 15 year old Viking boy and make him a fish out of water with a hunter-gatherer society not bent on conquest! How archaeologically satisfying it would be to explain the dearth of Viking artifacts despite their apparent insatiable thirst for Native blood and liberal use of metal arrows?
I don’t understand how the screenwriter for Night Watch (which is amazing) and this movie can be the same person, Laeta Kalogridis. I know studios can mess with a script and render it terrible and unwatchable, but this is not just studio muddling. You’ve Got Mail is studio muddling. This is…ugh.
Poor Karl Urban! His acting is fine, he had emotions and could do great physical stuff and looked good in the role, but talk about your pigeonholing (Lord of the Rings, Doom). Surely Moon Bloodgood (Eight Below) and Russell Means (just check out his heap big Indian resume on imdb.com) can find a better way to advocate for their nations than this? Oh jeez this movie was so effing boring! Not even the production design could save it. Save your money!
MPAA Rating R-strong brutal violence throughout
Release date 4/13/07
Time in minutes 99
Director Marcus Nispel
Studio 20th Century Fox