A blu ray film review of Outlander.
Outlander is best described as a combination of Predator meets The 13th Warrior.
This film cost $50m dollars to make and ended up making a worldwide gross of only $6m dollars.
The film was not widely distributed and while most well budgeted films have a respectable opening to at least 2500 theaters and usually much more this film was released in North America to only 81 theaters.
The distribution issues may well lie at the feet of the Weinstein company who had the American rights to the film and at the time of it's cinema release the Weinstein company were having major financial problems.
These financial problems would explain why such a well crafted film would only get released to 81 theaters during it's opening weekend and why it did not make money at the box office.
The tagline for the film is It destroyed his world. He won't let it destroy ours and it is most inappropriate considering what we learn during the course of the movie.
The film is ever so loosely based on Beowulf and it mixes Predator, The 13th Warrior and Starship Troopers into the mix. I even felt some of it was influenced by the excellent french film Brotherhood of the Wolf.
The director of this film is Howard McCain and he also had a hand in writing the script along with Dirk Blackman. They also wrote the screenplay for Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans.
Patrick Tatopoulos designed the creature. Tatopoulos also worked on films such as Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, Pitch Black, Underworld and Silent Hill and he directed Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans.
A spaceship crash lands in Norway during the time of the Vikings. The humanoid survivor is called Kainan and is taken prisoner and held captive in the local village but something is out there killing and norsemen and outlander must join forces and hunt down the creature responsible and bring peace to the land.
All is not as it seems though and just who is the real victim, is it man or beast!!!
Outlander starts with a spaceship crashing into the water and it's occupant is seen setting off a rescue beacon.
It's an exciting start and sets things up nicely for what is to follow in the rest of the movie.
We find out it's Norway and the year is 709AD and something is gruesomely killing people.
The creature is a Moorwen and is the last of it's kind.
We learn from the outlander who is played really well by James Caviezel that his race went searching for new lands on other planets and they wiped out the entire race of Moorwen.
I actually thought this element was interesting as it clearly shows that the outlander and his people are not that nice and are a selfish ignorant race only interested in themselves and self preservation.
The Moorwen has his entire species wiped out and In this respect you can understand why the Moorwen might be a little annoyed. Later in the movie you understand it even more since it's also trying to protect it's young. This whole backstory was very interesting and had me hooked.
As the film develops i felt sorry for the creature and understood why it would do what it did.
I am not sure if the scriptwriters intended me to feel sorry for the Moorwen but the story was tragic and the outlanders race came across in a bad way during those flashbacks. The film though benefits from having those sequences and it really fleshes the creature out and makes it more three dimensional.
The creature is clearly intelligent so it's sole reason for killing must be revenge or to protect it's young.
The outlander is also seeking revenge against the creature although that is downplayed a little in the movie but it's clear from the flashbacks that it must be the case. Sophia Myles brought beauty, elegance and a fighting spirit to her role as the kings daughter and i thought she was superb.
John Hurt playing the Viking King Rothgar was excellent and he seemed to be enjoying his role.
Jack Huston played Wulfric well and his character developed during the movie.
Caviezel is an underrated actor who has shined in a number of films over the years and despite what his race did to the Moorwen you do root for him during the film.
A highlight of the film is the dinner helmet game where Wulfric competes against the outlander.
The trap which is set for the Moorwen is fantastic and well filmed and for me was the highlight of the film, the end sequences which i will not reveal are also great.
The creature effects and design are first class and you can see where the budget was spent.
Image quality on this disc is near flawless with a fine grain structure and absolutely no edge enhancement or other issues to spoil the film like presentation.
The film has many scenes set during the night and i felt shadow detail and black levels represented the intended look of the film and were superbly rendered on blu ray.
The music score was superb and there was constant use of the split surround channels. Speech was always clear and defined through the center channel and the bass was incredibly deep and yet controlled. I felt this was a reference quality disc in both image and sound quality.
The Moorwen is seen eating grass on it's home planet but becomes a meat eater after it's race is destroyed and i found that a little hard to swallow.
I felt a little manipulated into wanting the outlander and Vikings to win when my gut instinct was telling me the creature was not really bad and had been wronged and despite the fact it was killing people it really had a lot of motive to do so in order to survive.
I would have liked a few more jolts and a touch more suspense. Some of this may not be negatives as such because any film that can push your buttons this way must be doing something right.
I hadn't really heard much about this film but had seen the trailer and thought it looked interesting and fun.
I was very surprised to find out that the film had done nothing at the box office and decided to investigate the reasons for that and clearly the Weinstein companies financial issues.
The lack of proper distribution was the reason this failed at the box office as even poor films will make some money.
I was very entertained by this film and thought the image and sound quality was better than most releases.
It's a shame some films do not get properly distributed.
I watched Star Trek after this film and thought the sound quality on Outlander was better.
The cast were familiar to me and all did a good job with the material they had to work with.
I thought direction was mostly good although as noted in my negatives i did think the film could have had a bit more suspense in places. The music score was very effective and worked well with the visuals. Give this film a chance and i feel you will be entertained and have an enjoyable time.
Technical Disc Specifications
Releasing Studio – Momentum
Film Running Time – 115 minutes
Disc Format – BD-50
Encoding – AVC ( MPEG 4 )
Film Aspect Ratio – 2.40:1
Blu Ray Resolution – 1080p/24
Audio Format – DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1
Starring James Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman and John Hurt
Directed by Howard McCain
This is a Region B locked disc
Film Entertainment Rating 4.5/5
Transfer Quality 4.5/5
Sound Mix 4.5/5