B+ Sound: B+ Extras: A Movie: B+
in April 2007 to little fanfare, Pathfinder
passed into movie obscurity before it had a chance to build any kind of real
word of mouth or audience. Starring Karl
Urban (Bourne Supremacy, Chronicles of Riddick) as a young man
orphaned by the death of his Viking father and adopted by Native American
parents, this Dark Age drama pits warriors from the old world against the
braves of the new. Called Ghost by his
adopted tribe, Urban's character must discover his true identity and life
purpose amidst the chaos of the arrival of another group of marauding Norsemen.
an excellent cast and nifty script from writer Laeta Kalogridis, director
Marcus Nispel delivers a riveting, action-packed film that features lush
photography and incredible costumes and sets. Of course, the villains of this film are
hardly historically accurate Vikings, looking in many instances as if they'd
only just recently escaped the canvas of legendary fantasy painter Frank
Frazetta, but they do ooze menace and mayhem. Their leader, Gunnar is brilliantly played by
Clancy Brown (Highlander, Carnivale). His dark, brooding violence juxtaposes nicely
with Russell Means titular portrayal of the Native tribe's Pathfinder, or
medicine man. It is these two men who represent the two world's Ghost
straddles, the violent, remorseless world of his Viking birth, and the wild,
idyllic world of his adoptive parents.
Vikings arrive to raid and pillage the villages of the coastal Indians, Urban's
character returns to find his home burned and his adoptive tribe massacred. He fights a running battle with Viking
pursuers bent on finding other tribes to slay.
Moon Bloodgod gives a stunning performance as the aptly named Starfire,
the daughter of Means' Pathfinder and the love interest of Ghost. The film suffers from some minor internal
continuity flaws, but otherwise delivers incredible emotion and entertainment
Digital 5.1 sound mix combines with an impressive score to deliver stunning
soundscapes that mesh perfectly with the solid picture quality, but it is no
match for the DTS 5.1 mix here which is one of the best of the year for a new
film. The gorgeous flora and fauna of
the British Columbian location shots come alive under the lenses of the film's
Super 35mm format, even with the monochromatic stylings by Director of
Photography Daniel C. Pearl, who lensed both versions of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the remake of which Nispel
directed. This could be the beginning of
an important collaboration and his work in Music Video has not dimmed his
narrative sense one bit.
extras provide a bevy of additional support for the film. More than a half dozen featurettes take
viewers on a guided tour of the film's origins, from its inception as remake of
the 1987 foreign film of the same name, to the inside looks at costume and set
design, to revealing interviews with some of the cast and crew. This package certainly raises the bar for other
action films when it comes to providing value-added content.
movies like Pathfinder sometimes
suffer from lack of exposure. This film
makes up for its somewhat obscure subject matter with a solid script, spirited
performances, and plenty of action. One
note of caution should be raised with regard to the film's R rating; it earned
this rating by virtue of its extreme violence.
Folks who don't like gore, or have a hard time seeing innocent people
killed, might want to steer clear, or at the very least step into the kitchen
to make some popcorn every now and then. However, the film's romantic angle and
powerful message of hope provide a nice payoff in the end, though you’ll have
to see the film yourself to see the actual ending. Good thing half the fun is getting there.
- Scott Pyle