Friday, 20 June 2014

Erik the Viking (UK/SE, 1989)

























Now this is a film long since lost in the annals of time. Much like the excellent 'Jabberwocky' movie by Terry Gilliam this movie has also been somewhat herded into the Monty Python film collection as a kind of extension to the Python universe. The same could also be said for the movies 'Yellowbeard' and 'Timebandits', unfortunately neither 'Erik' or 'Yellowbeard' are any good really and both fall flat, although this is better than the Chapman vehicle.

Inspired by Jones's own children's story book but strangely enough not following his own creation, the film revolves around Norse mythology although I'm unsure how closely, I doubt its that close. We follow Erik and his viking crew as they travel to Asgard so they may ask the Gods to end the age of Ragnarök. They all believe the sun has been swallowed by Fenrir the mighty wolf which has plunged their world into darkness. So its a travelling into the unknown type adventure which was very popular in the 80's.





















I guess the main issue I had with this film (first time seeing it!) was the fact it felt like it was trying to copy various other movies in terms of visuals at least. The whole mystery voyage into the unknown and looking for mystical fabled items angle is cool but so very dated and to be really truly honest this film just felt like a combination of all of the films I mentioned above. The visuals aren't even that exciting really, most of the start is set within a drab dreary Viking village, then we move onto a drab and dreary sea sequence, then we get some exotic visuals but eventually its back to drab and dreary as they find Asgard. Most of the movie looks very cheap and cheerful too, the sea monster is quite nice and typically Python-esque but all sets and costumes (especially wigs) just look very tacky.

I realise Jones has gone for that simple dirty cheap look (classic Python look) but it comes across as a tired attempt. 'Time bandits' had the same kind of visual approach but it also had some good location sequences and an exciting story, this story of Erik didn't really grab me at all. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters, their journey seems too easy, they find their goal quite quickly without doing much, the Gods are just kids which was anti-climatic, nothing really happens during the adventure that is of any real consequence...no urges of pending failure and the finale is really very weak.

I can't even say any of the characters were good fun...the same old routines which have been seen before in better films. There is a strong element of forced comedy throughout the film which is never really that amusing. The silly goofy characters are just trying way too hard, a good example would be the entire sequence set on Hy-Brasil with Jones in a familiar high pitched speaking role. As for Robbins as Erik...he is miscast in my view, far too meek, not really good looking enough for the hero and with an American accent!...sheesh! what on earth was Jones thinking?! Not even the powerhouse that is John Cleese can help this dull tale, his portrayal of the evil 'Halfdan the Black' as a soft spoken good mannered pleasant seeming chap (basically Cleese playing Cleese or his Robin Hood character from 'Timebandits'), again just felt rehashed and out of place.

There are one or two nice visual moments like the Viking ship going over the edge of the flat Earth and as I said the sea monster (what you see of it), but that's about it. I found the whole thing rather underwhelming frankly despite the solid UK cast and alluringly cool little movie poster. Its pretty unexciting with little to care about and a terrible finale, there are better Python-esque fantasies out there.

3/10