Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood, Russell
Means, Clancy Brown, Jay Tavare, Nathaniel Arcand, Ralf Moeller
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)
Day: 22 April 2007
An action-adventure set in the time when Vikings
tried to conquer North America, "Pathfinder" tells
the heroic story of a young Norse boy left behind after his
clan shipwrecks on the Eastern shores. Despite his lineage,
the boy is raised by the very Indians his kinsmen set out
to destroy. Now, as the Vikings return to stage another barbaric
raid on his village, the 25 year-old Norse warrior (Karl Urban)
wages a personal war to stop the Vikings' trail of death and
destruction. Forging his own path, his destiny is revealed
and his identity re-claimed.
Pathfinder is a visual juggernaut that weighs half
as much as it looks. Director Marcus Nipesl, who helmed the
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, had all the weapons of a heavyweight
blockbuster of Odin proportions: the fearsome theme of the
legendary Vikings, Karl Urban of horse-riding fame from the
Lord of the Rings and a big budget promising stunning visuals
and climactic battle scenes. Unfortunately, Pathfinder fails
to walk the talk, and quite possibly because there’s
precious little dialogue in a movie that feels like a fleeting
collection of fight scenes scavenged from Peter Jackson’s
cutting room floor.
Karl Urban stars in this Viking battle-fest as Ghost, a Norseman
left behind on American shores by the Vikings as a five-year-old
boy. He is then raised by the Red Indians, who treats him
as their own. We see flash scenes of the invasion early in
the movie where Ghost, in his refusal to kill the wounded
Red Indians, get whipped by his father and abandoned for not
being a true Viking. The rest of the movie charts Ghost in
his adulthood taking on the Vikings almost single-handedly
to protect the people who raised him from the people from
his origins of birth.
The first thing that strikes is the conspicuous lack of dialogue.
This shortcoming is made fatal by disappointingly bad editing
in the film. A scene can simply consist of Red Indians at
their marketplace, speaking of the season in standard American
English, followed by laughter and music-making. A scene is
shown of Ghost having nightmares of his past and before any
follow-up or contextual development is done, scenes get cut
abruptly. Discerning viewers can tell the horrid attempts
at “displaying culture and people” while setting
the “Story and past” for both the former and the
latter. In short Pathfinder is a jigsaw of formulaic film-making
gone horribly wrong.
Karl Urban, better known for his role as Eomer, the brooding
horse-riding nephew of the King of Rohan in Lord of the Rings,
is given barebones in the screenplay and script to work on.
Like Ghost in the chilly winter, Urban ends up simply doing
what he does best, grimacing, frowning and exuding alpha-male
machismo. Unfortunately, for a film that requires him to go
bare-bodied three-quarters of the movie and its seemingly
“epic-style” posturing, both his abysmal physique
and lacklustre plot development sinks the film faster than
a leaking Viking ship with the Fat Lady singing on board.
Essentially Pathfinder is a cookie cutter movie that is the
sum of 300 and Apocalypto. Unfortunately, it manages to turn
the strength of those two movies into its own weaknesses.
Pathfinder adopts the stylised, battle heavy approach of 300,
but where 300 was grand, awe-inspiring and elegant, Pathfinder
is barbaric, brutal and succeeds in its strange ability to
demonise the Viking legend with barely a platoon size of them
appearing throughout the movie. Three ships invading the Red
Indians and Karl Urban looks upon them with dread-ful, lip-trembling
eyes? And some tell me the now jobless Uruk-Hais from LOTR
weren’t moonlighting as the Vikings in some scenes?
Maybe they fled all the way from Mordor to Scandinavia.
Similarly, where Apocalypto involved culture and anthropology
enthusiast Mel Gibson to hire native artistes and film entirely
in Mayan language to try to recreate a credible story, Pathfinder
finds a bunch of Red-Indians who look like Apocalypto rejects,
speaking standand American English in them movie. All cultural
grandiose vanishes faster than Ghost can frown when one hears
the Indians talk about trading seasons in English.
an IGN interview director Nipesl goes on about wanting to
“(take) a proven genre and deconstructing it”.
With Pathfinder, Nipesl takes the epic genre and demolishes
it faster than a sloppy roadside busker could demolish Elvis
in an impersonation. He goes on to say "Unless it sucks,
I don't stop it.” I wonder. Non-existent scripting,
horrific editing, paper-thin plot and lots of brutality, brutality
and more brutality; I won’t even started on Moon Bloodgood’s
eulogising Ghost as if he were dead, talking about how she
has found a man who not only changed her life but the life
of her people. Hello….V for Vendetta anyone?
(Only the special effects team found the right path…by
ripping off LOTR)
Review by Daniel Lim