A dusky world exhibited in “The Pathfinder” could and should have been a background for an exceptionally brilliant Viking tale. But the effect, which happened to be the final version, was at least… contrary. Hardly ever does it happen a film is so incredibly atmospheric, but at the same so pathetically dumb. However, the director Marcus Nispel managed to do it.
“The Pathfinder” revolves around a story about the Vikings, who invade American land, slaughtering and slaying the local tribes with no mercy. One of their conquests ends up as a failure and the only survivor is a boy, who is found by the Indians, who provide him with a place to grow up. As his presence is met with hostility even after many years spent among the natives, he is soon given an opportunity to prove his worth – the new ships filled with brute marauders are closing in to the shores of America.
The Vikings have been given a lot of attention recently, especially thanks to the TV series launched in 2013. Back in times, when “The Pathfinder” was released (2007), the situation was rather different. After ambiguous reception of “300” directed by Zack Snyder, it was a risky undertaking to rely solely on visual aspect of the film and overlook the historical correctness. Unfortunately, Marcus Nispel went literally mental in “The Pathfinder” with providing the audience with stunningly exhilarating graphics. The Vikings reminisce the Orcs from “Lord of The Rings” and act like ferocious killing-machines, the Indians remind a lot of Maya from Gibson’s blood-filled “Apocalypto” and the pampered shots brilliantly lure us into the marshlands. Taking into consideration all those factors, it is even more unbelievable how bad “The Pathfinder” really is.
The are so many flaws of Nispel’s flick it makes it a ridiculously tiring challenge to make it till the very end. The plot is based on the concept of vengeance (how truly innovative right?) which drives our main character – his artificial family is brutally slaughtered by the invaders, but his motivation seems to be more straightforward – he’s in love and strives to protect the only person he cares about. Additionally to this rather conventional plot, there is a lot of over-structured, opaque philosophy added to a very spectacular bloodshed we observe. Eventually, it is so bleak and pretentious that it ends up pretty laughable. It is quite difficult to seem legit in “seeking for a life path” and shakesperean dilemmas, whilst a group of the Vikings either smash, crush, bash and slain everything with any pulse or, as it happens in the second part of the film – they are the ones to get smashed, crushed, bashed and decapitated. You can’t turn “Titanic” into Noah’s Ark by mentioning God and Jesus from time to time.
The acting is also just awful. Karl Urban playing the main role should have never returned to the “armor and a sword” role after “Lord of The Rings”. The performance of the rest of the cast is the-same-level unconvinving as Urban’s, even though majority of them was supposed to credibly and very quickly die off. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous presence of death is just a pile of rubbish, cheap emotion tricks – no matter how the director tries to “honor” killed ones, this massacre lacks emotional lining. Those throngs is just a soulless crowd, whose tragedy is completely uninvolving for the audience.
Nispel is a director, who definitely needs a better script to strike the perfect balance between his visionary cinematography and a well-played story. “The Pathfinder” did not even bother to be mediocre – I say it very, very occasionally, but this film was a complete waste of time. Don’t waste your time guys and search for something better among the UMP Recommends reviews!
UMP Grade: 20.5/50
(Cinematography: 7.5, Plot: 2, Acting: 3, Soundtrack: 5, Quaintness: 3)