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Pathfinder (DVD)

Starring: Karl Urban.

Rated: 15.

Story: A Viking invasion of North America goes pear-shaped and a traumatised Norse boy gets stranded. He's taken in by a tribe of Native Americans and grows up to be a bead-wearing, sword-wielding, white-skinned brave with identity issues.

When some more Vikings show up, he methodically goes about
slaughtering themsaving his adoptive people.

Comments: Vikings have had some pretty good PR in recent years, portrayed as traders, craftsmen, seafarers and explorers. The rise of the caricature of beardy blokes with horned helmets having a drink and a singsong has seen the more dubious elements of their culture reduced to some light pillaging and a minor charge of real estate fraud over the naming of Greenland. Vikings aren't so bad after all and are suitable material for topic work in Primary 3. (Sprog 2 is learning about runes and legends at the moment. Next week he gets to build a model long boat out of lollipop sticks.)

It's a shock to be presented with the savage Vikings of Medieval propaganda, lopping chunks out of foreigners for the sake of it. They wear scary outfits, destroy mindlessly and laugh evilly. They act more like orcs than people. In contrast, the Native Americans are all fluffy, peace-loving and wise.

As you can guess from this set up, Pathfinder isn't exactly bursting with narrative or complex motivations. It's an excuse for Die Hard meets The Lord of the Rings. There's plenty of action and everything moves along quickly. This is something of a mixed blessing, though. There's no clear sense of time or geography to events. The Vikings and the protagonist all run round the landscape and meet up whenever and wherever is most dramatic, however unlikely the relative journey lengths and sudden cliff drops seem. The next set-piece fight is never far away.

The film also goes off the boil near the end with the final showdown being somewhat ludicrous. The Vikings might be savage but they'd need to be dumb as anvils to walk into the trap that's laid for them.

Pathfinder is nowhere near as good as Apocalypto. Nonetheless, it's still an entertaining action film if you don't take it seriously and aren't overly squeamish.

Conclusion: The sort of Viking movie that features a chase involving sledges and spiked flails. If that thought makes you grin, you'll probably enjoy it.

Explosions: None.
The sort of gory melee combat where eyes go rolling across the floor: Rather a lot.
Stupid Vikings: Plenty.
Historical accuracy: As if.
Suitable as study material for seven-year-olds?: Not really.

Rating: 3/5.


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