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Outlander

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No relation to the 1981 Sean Connery space western Outland, this lukewarm production is not the first, nor likely the last sci-fi picture to take its cues from Beowulf. Thinly backstoried space colonist Kainan (James Caviezal) crash-lands on grunge-tastic Viking-era Earth, where John Hurt’s tribe of barely Christianized Norsemen captures him. Kainan the Neo-Barbarian must win the suspicious Scandinavians’ trust and lead them in a fight against a marauding alien stowaway now laying waste to the fjords. The toothy CGI hell-monster calls to mind not so much Grendel as the dread Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal — thank you, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — but it’s got a legitimate grievance against the humans, resulting in gore-filled battle scenes that are the only real reason for the R rating. Even with some impressive production design, costuming and moments of Viking bonhomie so dear to the hearts of medieval re-enactors, the ponderous, fairly predictable storyline and solemn, pause-filled dialogue (what is this, Harold Pinter’s last script?) make the saga feel eons longer than it needs to be. HH

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