REVIEW: Pathfinder (Marcus Nispel, 2007)

The premise sounds good enough to anyone who is as fascinated as I am by the Native American cultures - a young boy is left behind after a ship of Viking explorers crashes on the shores of the new world and grows up to be their defender when his people return to lay waste to the natives. This is no Terrence Malick epic, however, no - this is a B-grade action flick starring none other than Karl Urban (DoomLord Of The Rings: The Two Towers), the new hero staple for this current generation of high schoolers.

Pathfinder seems a project that didn't quite have the budget that it needed to accomplish what it wanted (hell, it resorts to stock footage during an avalanche scene). While there is an abundance of messily executed gore, there are plenty of pulled punches to go with it. The first act plays like a student film that stumbled on a few million bucks to spend on costuming and practical effects (which actually reminds me of something to credit the movie on - very few uses of CGI). The second act actually isn't too bad considering the context, and seems more like something that I wouldn't mind sticking with on television during spell of late-night channel-surfing. We then fall into the third and worst act, which is more slowly paced and yet more rushed than any of the other segments, including the tedious developmental stages.

The most surprising aspect of the film is that Laeta Kalogridis, who co-wrote the beautiful dialogue of Alexander with Oliver Stone, penned the sceenplay! I can understand being eager for just about any project after 'Xander unfortunately flopped, but to drop to this? Well, turns out she was one of the original authors of the graphic novel (to my understanding, anyway... there doesn't appear to be much info online about this). Still, the dialogue was only a shade better than you might find in a Sci-Fi channel movie of the week.

Perhaps the most appalling aspects of the movie are the characterizations of the two groups of people. The natives appear gullible and weak (and they speak English, which bothered me despite my understanding of the language's implimentation in a movie of this sort) while the Vikings were turned into exaggerated behemoths who were more monster than man.

In short, there is barely any worth to this mostly brainless and claustrophobic flick and it is absolutely understandable why the studio waited over a year to find a fitting release date for it. If you want action, re-watch M:I:III or Resident Evil: Apocalypse... or wait until the term "summer blockbuster" stops translating to "superhero threequel".

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