Saturday, May 05, 2007

Slightly Overdue Movie Review: Pathfinder


In Brief: What's Good

  • Some good action scenes

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • A bit hokey and/or predictable at times

  • Visually, the colors are dulled and washed out too much.

  • Lacks character development, and names of many characters are only revealed in the end credits

  • Moon Bloodgood, although beautiful, seems horribly miscast as the Native American woman who becomes Karl Urban's character's love interest.

C+ Story
C+ Acting
C Directing
C Visuals

Karl Urban (Eomer from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) plays Ghost, an orphan Viking who has grown up among Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe. As a child, Ghost was the lone survivor of a wrecked (and/or attacked) Viking vessel and was adopted by the female Native American woman that found him. Ghost has adopted the ways of the Wampanoag. His sword and a memory of the language are the only two remnants of his time among other Vikings.

So, of course, when the brutal Vikings show up to threaten North America again, A now adult Ghost must defend his beloved Native American tribe using the strongest traits of both worlds. Eventually, Ghost has to take up the responsibility of Pathfinder as the sole weapon effective against the Vikings.

The overall story of Pathfinder is somewhat simple, perhaps too simple, since it is a bit predictable at times and contains little character development. However, as action movies go, this movie has a simple story to tell and tells it effectively. For what it is, Pathfinder is well made and somewhat entertaining despite its flaws.

One flaw is that the movie downplays the beauty of the natural North American landscape by dulling and darkening many of the colors. At times, the movie seems to have only a dozen colors in it including:

  • Light Black

  • Shiny Black

  • Dark Black

  • Dark White

  • Shadow Grey

  • Tree Grey

  • Snow Grey

  • Moss Green

  • Fire Yellow

  • Blood Red

  • Weird Hollywoodish Blacklight Blue

One thing I like about the movie is the way it handles language. With every character in the movie being either Native American or Viking, the makers could have gone the Mel Gibson route and made the whole movie with subtitles. However, as the protaganists, the Native Americans speak in English, so that we the viewers can understand them. Meanwhile, the Vikings speak in their own language with subtitles. It helps make the Vikings feel like foreign, unrelatable invaders. Whether the Viking language is all or partially authentic, I don't know.

Speaking of language, however, there was one major distraction for me as I watched the movie. All the Native American characters spoke in a "Native American accent" (or inflection, whatever you want to call it). Even though they speak English, they at least "sound" Native American. That part I like. The exception is the character of StarFire, played by Moon Bloodgood (of the short-lived TV show Day Break). She speaks with no accent or inflection whatsoever. She sounded so much like an average, modern-day American that she felt totally out of place whenever she spoke.

Karl Urban does a good enough job here as an action hero, and it's also good to hear Clancy Brown's voice under all the armor and masking of the main Viking antagonist. Even though he is speaking in Viking language, Clancy Brown always makes a good villain.

It sometimes seems implausible just how strong, skilled, and intelligent Ghost would be without having a lot of practice at combat and tactics. Such skill would probably come from warring with other tribes which, of course, is not shown to protect the empathy towards the Wampanoag.

This is not a bad a movie. Granted it's close, but it has just enough redeeming quality to be believable and watchable. I'd just barely recommend it, but if you rent or buy it, I would suggest waiting for a discount or a coupon.

Fun Facts from Internet Movie Database

The actors wore hockey pads under their Viking costumes to make their shoulders look bigger. The movie is based on a Dark Horse comic book of the same name. The Native Americans historically encountered by the Vikings were the Beothuk of Newfoundland, Canada.

No comments: