April 15, 2007

Pathfinder's flawed filmmaking

Weak writing:The film is totally devoid of any story and is just a simple battle between Vikings and Native Americans. (Keene Equinox)

Amid the barbarism and bloodshed, dialogue is kept to a minimum. The screenplay could not have been more than 10 pages long. Perhaps that is a merciful decision, given the clichéd truisms that pass for wisdom. (USA Today)

The script is laughable, with fortune cookie wisdom punctuated with the Vikings shouting “ARRRRRRGH!” constantly. (Entertainment Wise)

Ghost himself could have proved to be an interesting character, but that is thrown by the wayside as well. In fact, there is no characterization at all in this film. Audience members will not care about any person at all during the entire film's duration.

There are shots of Native Americans being decimated by the Vikings to the cue of melancholy music, but the effect is lost since there is no reason to care about these people. The film tries to elicit sympathy but it fails miserably. (Keene Equinox)
Bad acting and miscasting:Fifteen years later, Ghost (Karl Urban), as he's now called, is still troubled by sketchy memories of his Viking kinfolk on killing sprees and bears ragged scars on his back for having refused to partake in their gleeful bloodshed.

But this insight is the extent of character development in what amounts to a violent video gamelike movie, courtesy of director Marcus Nispal. (Catholic News Service)

Mr. Urban's brand of acting involves intense stares and flinging his wet hair off his face for the next protracted stare. Clancy Brown of HBO's "Carnivale" is lucky enough to stay hidden behind makeup and a face mask playing one of the head Vikings. (Washington Times)

[T]hough the Native American actors, particularly Russell Means as a tribal chief, are fine in their roles, Urban has the kind of modern looks that would seem more convincing strutting on the sand with a surfboard rather than leaping about in a loincloth. (USA Today)

Karl Urban looks and sounds like he’d be more comfortable on MTV rather than decapitating Norsemen. (Entertainment Wise)
Clichés and derivative concepts:The child is raised by Indians, who call him "Ghost," either because
of his pale skin or because they know the film will be haunted by clichés
from a thousand other movies. (Los Angeles Times)

Cue the head-slicing, eyeball gouging, gut-spilling, etc. And the vengeance-swearing. And the love-at-first-sight between Ghost and Ms. Bloodgood's character. Not to mention the tricky jungle warfare Ghost employs (it's straight out of "Rambo") or the terrible, tragic miscue by a young Native American warrior. (Detroit News)

The action scenes are extremely cliché in nature, with plenty of decapitations and arrows through the eyes. (Keene Equinox)

Audiences will be forgiven for thinking they're watching a "Lord of the Rings" outtake, given the monstrous, Orc-like armor worn by the Vikings. (Washington Times)
Poor continuity and logic:For one, what part of America's East Coast has 11,000-foot mountains? For two, why is it snowbound winter in all the odd-numbered shots and insect-buzzing summer in the even-numbered ones? For three, since the Vikings don't steal any of the natives' resources, did they cross the Atlantic just for recreational rampaging? For four, why did director Marcus Nispel (of the 2003 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre") shoot this film entirely in washed-out shades of blue? Is that cheaper? If it was to conjure up a starkly terrifying sense of a barbaric time and place, it fails. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

[T]here is no logic, narrative or visual. When a big battle scene comes, the action is incoherent, with no way to tell who's who or what's what. And maybe it was a deliberate choice to portray the Vikings as faceless and interchangeable, but this doesn't make for a very memorable villain. (Daily Herald)

Accents are all over the shop, there’s little-to-no explanation as to why Ghost goes from outcast to super soldier (despite a very dodgy sword training scene), or how he 'remembers' to speak fluent Norse. (Entertainment Wise)

Overall, the characters in this film are incredibly stupid and make the most unintelligent decisions.

Throughout the film, the Vikings make it clear that they want Ghost dead for his actions. However, when they finally do catch Ghost, they keep him alive in order to lead them to another Native American camp, totally going against what they said earlier.

Another part is when Ghost builds a trap in the middle of a forest that a tribe of Native Americans accidentally falls into. Instead of charging and killing Ghost, the army of Vikings decides to actually jump into the trap and finish off the already dying Native Americans. It's a scene that may actually cause laughter among some viewers.

The Vikings themselves are hulking brutes that seem to have nothing better to do than murder people. It really makes no sense that they would cross the Atlantic Ocean just for the sake of going around and killing. (Keene Equinox)


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Flawed or not, PATHFINDER found enjoyment for writerfella. BUT -- the film was ignored by ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY completely, almost as though it hadn't been released at all. Plus, the weekend report is dismal, with the film making only $5,001,214 in 1720 theaters. Rob therefore can be said to be right. The moviegoing public IGNORES films about Natives in whatever form they may take. Question becomes: does he take joy from such matters? And if so, then why?
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I take joy in the failure of bad, stereotypical, and ultra-violent movies, but not Native-themed movies. Pathfinder fails on three of four scores.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yet, the film succeeds on its story level. Is it really the case that modern motion picture audiences no longer can recognize a 'real and genuine story' when they see it? Does not bode well for ANASAZI, does it?
All Best Russ Bates

Rob said...

The story succeeds? That isn't what the critics are saying.

I don't have an opinion on the matter myself, of course, since I haven't seen Pathfinder.