Outlander: Spaceman Jim Caviezel Won’t Share His Ray-Gun With Vikings

I miss Arnold Schwarzenegger right about now, and so does this movie. Instead we have dour, scrawny Jim Caviezel, come down from the cross, as a spaceman who crashes in eighth-century Norway. The Vikings (led by John Hurt) are a grouchy bunch, and they blame him for a mysterious local massacre until he reveals—reluctantly—the cause for the carnage. A space monster is loose, the red-glowing, whip-tailed embodiment of the visitor's colonial guilt. With an obvious debt to Predator and Beowulf (among others), Outlander is a serious pastiche, straightforwardly told. (Though Caviezel's hazy, interstellar flashbacks play like the intro to some vidgame.) There's a warrior babe (Sophia Myles), a handsome rival (Jack Huston), and even a cameo from Ron Perlman (to the longhouse born). But nary a joke or a wink at the Bronze Age/Space Age incongruity. Caviezel's too polite to mention to his flea-bitten hosts—unlike Schwarzenegger or even Heston in Planet of the Apes—that in the future we have a thing called bathing. (Really, you might try it some time.) The inevitable monster hunt and battles with a rival tribe are reasonably gory, but kids expecting ray-guns and mega-action will be disappointed. Caviezel slowly goes native, keeping his alien technology to himself. Without any Predator-style gadgets of its own, the monster becomes more genuine, even tragic, by sticking to its prehistoric nature. Unlike Caviezel, it refuses to be tamed.

 
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