Outlander - January 21, 2009 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly


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 8th-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 videogame. 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. Unlike Schwarzenegger or even Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes, Caviezel is too polite to mention to his flea-bitten hosts that in the future, we have a thing called bathing. 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.