Outlander is a sci-fi tale that pits Norsemen (Vikings) against an off-world creature with bioluminescence and a taste for meat and destruction. How this creature finds its way to Earth of the past, specifically Norway 708 AD, is the subject of Outlander’s opening lake crash sequence. When the humanoid flight crew emerges from the ship is when the film begins. The fact that their flight/space suits are made out of metal instead of plastic like in most sci-fi films these days is refreshing. There are often cool touches in Outlander as well, specifically the firearm and multi-functional distress device. You may wonder how an alien, even a humanoid alien, can communicate with people that are primates, technologically speaking at least, compared to his own. The answer to this conundrum, once again, is very cool. If you have read Battlefield Earth, you probably have an idea of what it is but the process in Outlander is exceedingly quicker and painful. One of the two alien humanoids that emerged from the crashed ship, Kainan (James Caviezel), at first is seen as an enemy and a potential threat to the Vikings until the true predator reveals itself. It is the creature Kainan had aboard his crashed ship, called a Moorwen.
During his short-lived incarceration amongst the Vikings, Kainan shows how advanced his hand-to-hand combat training is over his captives multiple times. It is also during this time that the majority of the major cast members are introduced. There is Wulfirc (Jack Huston), who captured Kainan, Ruthgar (John Hurt), the ruler of the surrounding lands and Freya (Sophia Myles), his daughter. It is Freya who deviates the most from what you traditionally in films. She is not waiting to be saved by the hero (for the most part); she is a fighter, much like Eowyn in Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The viewer may be pleasantly surprised (depending upon their temperament) at how gory and violent Outlander gets in some scenes. It’s all in context, never out of place. While watching Outlander, the viewer may be reminded of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Much like that film, there is a blending of monster and period-piece in Outlander. To be fair to Outlander, this film is a blending of sci-fi, monster movie with what may or may not be sincere instances of Viking life. Only a person who studied Viking society would know. This film seems a tad more authentic in that department than Pathfinder was.
Even before the Moorwen was brought to bear on the Vikings, there was strife in Viking land. When Gunnar (Ron Perlman) first appears on screen in Outlander, he brings with him an old grudge and war.
Howard Cain’s Outlander is an entertaining hybrid: science-fiction with enough gooeyness to satisfy horror fans as well. It is not quite as good as Brotherhood of the Wolf but it is a runner-up to that film, exceeding the efforts found in Reign of Fire. Reign of Fire had fantastic CGI and cinematography but a lack-luster plot. Outlander has a better plot, good effects, more blood and a better ending. The viewer will be surprised multiple times as to how good and entertaining Outlander is, especially when Kainan’s back story is put on Front Street. For it is during these times that some of the best visuals and sci-fi scenes are witnessed in this film.