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Pathfinder (2007)

by on 2012/02/18

“I knew you could speak like a human.”

* * *

Vikings are assholes.

Or at least that’s the strong impression I’m left with after watching Pathfinder.

If the whole world were a kindergarten – and I strongly suspect it is – Vikings would be the kids who kick the living crap out of other kids’ Lego palaces, stomp on their arrowroot cookies and decapitate their dolls.

In fact, all the dolls would die – every last Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kid and Polly Pocket. They may let a Tickle Me Elmo survive so they could follow him to the next toy box, but they’d cut out his felt tongue so he couldn’t warn the others.

It sounds quite a bit more menacing when Karl Urban says this, but, you know, he wasn’t talking about dolls. Well, there were a few dolls in the movie. But they were really scary dolls.

Pathfinder riffs on the history that the Vikings were the first to land on the shores of North America. In this film directed by Marcus Nispel, Vikings are portrayed as less than human – more Decepticons than men. Their filthy faces are obscured by skull masks, leather, massive metal helmets and filthy, matted beard hair.

Worse yet, these subhuman brutes armed with cold, cold steel are bent on a campaign of ethnic cleansing, aiming to clear out the inhabitants to pave the way for their settlements.

On the other hand, the First People of this story are civilized, orderly, kindly and entirely sympathetic. When a young Viking boy is found in a ruined ship with a pile of corpses, he is adopted by the Native Vinlanders and grows up to be a man they named Ghost (Karl Urban).

Ghost teeters between two worlds, the nightmarish flashbacks of his life with the aforesaid Viking assholes, and the less-than-full acceptance he receives at the hands of the aboriginal tribe he calls home. When he falls for a woman from a neighbouring tribe Starfire (Moon Bloodgood), tensions mount between Ghost and the other braves.

But these first world problems (get it, get it? …sigh) are about to be bludgeoned into irrelevance by the stinky, smashy meanness of the Vikings.

Pathfinder is just the way I like my movies. You know, barbarian, quiet and nasty. Dialogue is used sparingly, the violence is stylish and visceral, the performances are solid. I just can’t help liking Karl Urban (Doom).

To conclude, Grushenka like smash. Grushenka like Pathfinder.

* * *

107 minutes

Rated R for Viking jerkishness and the incredibly disrespectful treatment of the cool, wise Russell Means

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