Tuesday, July 7, 2009

OUTLANDER

Probably the most entertaining fantasy/sci-fi genre film I’ve seen in five years, OUTLANDER, was handled most bafflingly by it’s distributors (The Weinstien Company), bypassing theaters almost entirely, and being dumped on home video without fanfare. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why.

In 709 A.D., an alien spaceship crashes into a Norwegian lake, with two survivors – a humanoid space marine named Kainan (Jim Caviezel, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST) and a bestial predator known as the Moorwen. The monster immediately sets out to prey on the local Vikings, while Kainan is first captured, then accepted by a tribe led by a warrior king named Rothgar (John Hurt). He falls in love with Rothgar’s daughter (Sophia Myles, UNDERWORLD 1 & 2), and leads the Vikings in battle against the creature.

Beautifully shot and energetically paced by director Howard McCain, OUTLANDER is a surprisingly satisfying genre gem. Even Caviezel’s bland performance can’t diminish the fun and excitement generated by the quality production values, solid cast (which includes Ron Perlman) and effective special effects. The Canadian location work – augmented by digital matte paintings – is stunning, and the action scenes are handled with aplomb.

Genius Products’ DVD presents the film in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks perfect. Audio is a robust Dolby 5.1. Extra features include a commentary track by writer/director McCain, and producers Dirk Blackman, Chris Roberts and John Schimmel. There are a handful of deleted scenes, production design galleries, effects tests, animatics, and the theatrical trailer.

Highly recommended.

BUY: Outlander