Beat a Path away from this delayed release


on April 13, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
Relegated to the shelf for the better part of a year, Marcus Nispel's follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ultimately has made its way into theaters on the heels of a juggernaut to which it bears a strong resemblance. Unfortunately, the comparison isn't a favorable one. If 300 was excoriated by critics (though notably not by this one), Pathfinder will fare even worse.

Both center on an ancient battle to protect a native civilization against invading marauders. (Here it's the Wampanoag Indians, “people of the dawn,” versus “dragon men,” aka Vikings, centuries before Columbus spied the shores of the New World.) Both find a small band of combatants grossly outnumbered by their foe. (Here, Karl Urban plays a Viking child left behind during a previous invasion and adopted by the local tribe. Just he, a love interest and a mute warrior stay behind to fight while the others flee to safety.) Both pit ingenuity and the natural landscape versus brute force. (Here the Native Americans' wood and stone weapons are no match for their enemies' metal swords, but they use the Vikings' ignorance of spring weather against them.)

And both films are highly stylized in imagery and in their treatment of violence. (Here the natural world is rendered in virtual black and white, people and their habitats in sepia tones. But, in the movie's attempts to create drama amid the action, as in a downhill sled chase, all energy is sapped, and the audience ends up feeling nothing.)

Many may find fault with the poetic licenses taken by Pathfinder with regard to the daily lives of the Wampanoag and the attire worn by the Vikings. And, given the outrage over 300 's portrayal of Persians, perhaps a Nordic protest is next. (It's ironic, isn't it, that the Norwegian flick Ofelas served as the basis for a film that depicts their ancestors so one-dimensionally.)

More egregious, though, is the film's reliance on cliches, predictably outrageous outcomes and disorientating direction. Pathfinder was reportedly shot in 53 days, with as many as 40 to 60 setups per day. It shows. Distributor: Fox
Cast: Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood, Russell Means and Clancy Brown
Director: Marcus Nispel
Screenwriter: Laeta Kalogridis
Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer and Marcus Nispel
Genre: Action adventure
Rating: R for strong brutal violence throughout
Running time: 99 min.
Release date: April 13, 2007

Tags: Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood, Russell Means, Clancy Brown Director: Marcus Nispel Screenwriter: Laeta Kalogridis Producers, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Marcus Nispel, action adventure, Fox

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