Boston Herald‘s James Verniere described Outlander as “Beowulf meets Predator” — a fair assessment, were it not for the fact that Outlander fails to live up to either one. Indeed, it fails to live up to much of anything.
The movie opens with the crash-landing of Kainan (Jim Caviezel), an alien warrior who finds himself stranded on the shores of Norway during the Iron Age. Crap. To make things worse, he manages to get himself captured by a band of seriously annoyed Norwegians. Double crap.
The proverbial cherry on top of all this crap comes with the realization that Moorwen — a man-chomping quadruped who looks like the misbegotten brainchild of H.R. Giger and James Cameron — hitched a ride on Kainan’s ship and is now refusing to get along with the locals.
And by refusing to get along with the locals, I mean he’s eating them.
With this kind of setup to build on, Outlander ought to and could have been a diverting (if not very graceful) blend of creature feature and B-movie action. Alas, it is nothing of the kind, and there are several reasons why — numero uno being Jim Caviezel himself.
Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I haven’t seen the right movies. Either way, Caviezel has never impressed me as an actor, and his performance as Kainan did nothing to change that. To put it bluntly, he spends most of the movie looking stoned. Where is the reckless, chest-thumping, arm-tearing enthusiasm? No offense, but Kainan has all the charisma of a cornflake – a soggy one — and that’s never splendid news, particularly for a character modeled after Beowulf.
But really, Outlander‘s biggest problem is its inability to get its own priorities straight. It wants to be a ginormous action romp, then promptly loses steam by trying to develop an awkward love story. The few interesting scenes are sandwiched between moments of pure Velveeta, as Kainan and the local warrior princess — who is so interesting I can’t even recall her name — try to work out their feelings for each other. Slay me now. I’m no action junkie, but what this movie really needed was less melodrama, and more sword-stuff with a side of alien beasties eating people.