Saturday, 8 March 2014

The 13th Warrior (1999)





















Historical Vikings vs barbarians, hack n slash flick made by 'Die Hard' director John McTiernan? should be kick ass right? well sort of, it is a decent flick but its a bit messy and not overly as memorable as you'd think. Based on a Michael Crichton novel (which was all the rage back in the 90's) which involved the curious mix of a travelling exiled Arab poet who befriends and joins a small village of Norsemen (Vikings) and ends up fighting a tribe of barbarian cannibals that dress as bears because they believe they are bears.

The film isn't accurate of course, it is based on actual fact but has been hugely exaggerated and made more exciting for both the novel and film. The lead character Fadlan was a real Arabic traveller and he did go north and experience Viking life but all the battles with cannibals (based on the Beowulf folklore) is complete fantasy.



















So the film has a touch of grounding in reality which makes it more interesting and urges you to learn more which is good, the film itself isn't too bad, compared to the novel I don't know but there isn't too much happening in the film other than time wasting dialog inter-spursted with pitched battles. The dialog is very wooden really and somewhat 'state the obvious' all the time, the film does feel a little rushed and choppy probably due to the problems whist being made and really the battles, which are the focal point, aren't all that good either.

The film is solid and is reasonably interesting but it just feels very underwhelming, as if there is a really really good kick ass film somewhere in there wanting to get out. Banderas looks the part of the Arab and the Viking cast also look good as does the cold looking muddy location work, but Sharif seems to have been stuck in there simply for big name status and to try and elevate the film to epic levels. He does pretty much nothing of importance and disappears very quickly.

The film does get slightly more silly as it progresses towards the end but all in all it just about does the job of keeping you entertained. The barbarian hordes the Vikings fend off are too unrealistic really I think, that's the problem, and of course most of them are all just sword fodder for the heroes so the usual thing. I think 'Pathfinder' does it better.

5/10