Rated R for violence, 110 minutes
Cheesy, cheap "Outlander" is just bad
"Outlander" is the new sci-fi film not to be confused with the 1981 Sean Connery sci-fi film "Outland." While the Connery film wasn't all that great, comparatively speaking, it's "Citizen Kane" compared to "Outlander," a new sci-fi film that is a cross between "Aliens" and "Braveheart." It's cheesy, cheap and follows the "Cloverfield" method of revealing it's incredibly fake-looking, CG monster to it's audience, in that you hardly see it. Like "Cloverfield," "Outlander" simply stinks. To paraphrase Bart Simpson, "Outlander" both sucks and blows.
That's not to say that "Outlander" doesn't have a clever premise, or that the monster itself is pretty cool, it's just everything in between is so bad. During the reign of the Vikings, Kainan (Jim Caviezel), a man from a far-off world, crash lands on Earth, bringing with him an alien predator known as the Moorwen. Though both man and monster are seeking revenge for violence committed against them, Kainan leads the alliance to kill the Moorwen by fusing his advanced technology with the Viking's Iron Age weaponry. Kainan himself gets caught up in an age-old battle between foes Rothgar (John Hurt), who takes Kainan in, and Gunnar (Ron Perlman) and even finds an ancient love with the beautiful Freya (Sophia Myles, too pretty for this mess).
Howard McCain, who co-wrote the dreadful "Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans," also this week, co-wrote and directed the mess known as "Outlander." Now he's responsible for not just one, but two stinkeroos as the box-office this week. It's not that McCain didn't try hard, he assembled a decent cast, developed a decent premise, created a decent (but very peculiar and fake) CG monster, yet an awful movie to go with it. McCain seems to spent all his time on the creature and had little time to develop an interesting story, characters, though we hardly see the monster itself except in a handful of scenes.
He pads the rest of "Outlander" with excessively violent Viking battle scenes and seemingly lighter scenes of chugging ale down at the local Viking pub, none of which really adds to or advances the story. Though it's handsomely filmed in New Zealand, everything else about it seems so cheap: the wigs, the facial hair, the costumes all are shoddily done.
The most interesting part of "Outlander," of course, is the monster, but since we see so little of it (its name is Moorwen, though they pronounce it like Mormon) we have to sit through the rest of the movie when McCain attempts something at a story. Give us the monster, for cryin' out loud. Hurt, Cavieziel, Perlman and Myles are all capable, even compelling actors when they want to be, but McCain doesn't let them. Caviezel's a bore with his minimalist acting, Hurt looks confused, Myles too pale and Perlman is just a big bully.
The climax, when they work together to capture the monster, is altogether ridiculous, but at least it's more interesting than any other subplots that are halfway attempted. McCain should learn to fashion the special effects around the story, not the story around the special effects. A dismal, stinky effort that may gain a following from the comic-con crowd for simply being so bad.