Genius Products // 2008 // 115 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 29th, 2009
It destroyed his world. He won't let it destroy ours.
Vikings. Space monsters. Lasers. Swords. Axes. Decapitations. Odin worship. Alpha male cockblocking. Yes, friends, Outlander just may be The Greatest Thing in the History of Everything.
A flaming starship crash lands on Sixth Century Earth and a space man named Kainan (James Caviezel, The Passion of the Chirst) crawls out of the wreckage. Turns out a nasty giant man-eating space alien snuck onto his ship and forced it to dive-bomb our planet. Now it's loose and the only weapons Kainan has at his disposal are swords and axes. His only allies are mean, hairy Vikings, who certainly fight like champs, but are overmatched by the alien's ferocity. They're also drunk half the time.
If you could make a movie about Vikings fighting space dragons, what would you do? Me? Besides adding a bit more Viking-on-Viking slaughter and moving some of the action out of the pitch blackness, I'd pretty much stick with the game plan director Howard McCain went with. The Greatest Thing That Will Ever Happen to this World and That Includes the Day When the Deity Of Your Choice Returns to Set Up His or Her Earthly Kingdom takes this whacked-out concept and squeezes virtually all the entertainment juice out of it, leaving you with a rich, satisfying Viking Smoothee.
Caviezel puts forward a subdued performance, but turns on the intensity when he needs to, specifically when his pals bite it or in the heat of battle with the alien and he needs to lay on the intimidation. His counterpart is Jack Huston who plays Wulfric, the main badass in the Norseman camp and heir to the throne. This adversary-to-ally relationship is the emotional core of the film, even outpacing the love story between Kainan and the gorgeous Viking princess Freya. I like how The Greatest Thing in the Universe, Or, Multiverse, If You Subscribe to That Particular Cosmology sidesteps the formula of having Wulfric and Kainan bitch at each other the whole time, and instead brings them together as BFFs right away. It's cool and pays off well at the end.
But, as it is with any creature feature, the element the film turns on is the monster. Thankfully, the beast in The Greatest Piece of Creative Expression that Mankind Has Produced is a memorable one, rendered well in clean CGI; lethal, loud, and sporting a cool back-story (told in a nice sci-fi rich sequence). McCain takes his cues from the monster movie playbook and takes his time revealing the creature. When the inevitable showdown finally does happen, we get a bodacious eyeful. My only complaint: much of the action at the end (and, honestly, throughout most of the film) happens in the dark, making the viewing experience a challenge.
That's a small gripe when you're talking about The Greatest Thing God Ever Had a Role in Creating and Don't Doubt for a Second He Didn't Have a Divine Role in the Pre-Production Process. Overall, this is just a glorious face full of B-movie sci-fi thrills and a more-than-deserving entry into the Viking Space Monster Movie Hall of Fame.
The DVD is fine, sporting a sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and an aggressive 5.1 surround mix. Extras include commentary from McCain, writer Dirk Blackman, and producers Chris Roberts and John Schimmel; a ton of deleted scenes; animatics and visual effects tests; and images galleries.
What else do you have going on in your flimsy life? Nothing, that's what. So make the most of your sad existence and lose yourself in the gritty realism of Jim Caviezel and some hulking Norsemen stabbing a monster from space with swords.
Not Guilty. The case is dismissed with extreme prejudice. Never darken the
doorways of this courtroom again, a-hole, thinking you could impugn the dignity
of this masterpiece.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Still Galleries