Pathfinder Movie Review

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The idea that Vikings arrived in America long before Christopher Columbus is a fascinating one. It's easy to envision these bearded warriors, hunkered down in their longboats, stumbling sick and exhausted onto North American shores after a harrowing journey across the wild Atlantic. That's at least what I see. The makers of Pathfinder see something else entirely. The Vikings who wash ashore here are giant-sized brutes and they come complete with veritable armies and practically a herd of horses. It's like they rowed over from Jersey on cruise ships.

And forget every image of Vikings you've ever seen, these guys are less Scandinavian herdsman and more post-Apocalypse titans. Remember Humungous from The Road Warrior ("The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!")? Throw a few bear skins on that guy and give him a helmet made of twelve ram's horns and he could play every one of the Viking raiders in Pathfinder. I half expected MasterBlaster to come surging out of the primitive landscape.

The other thing you'll want to forget when viewing Pathfinder is that most films have a plot. Pathfinder doesn't. It's just a choppy blend of every action film trope ever written. I suppose that kind of makes it archetypal -- it's not one thing; it's everything. But the picture's storyline is held together so flimsily that when you actually get an idea of what's going on, you immediately realize it's incredibly stupid.

Here's what happens: A Viking boy (who grows up to become Karl Urban) is the sole survivor of a raiding party gone awry, he's raised as Ghost by the native peoples his fellow Norsemen have been terrorizing. Fifteen years later, when the Vikings come back for more pillaging, Ghost is their last and best defense against the seemingly unstoppable "dragon men" (so named because of their impenetrable armor). We've got the requisite Dances with Wolves-styled elements and the obligatory love interest played by Moon Goodblood (if anyone should be in a Native Americans vs. Vikings movie, it's someone with the name Moon Goodbloood) but mostly Pathfinder is about slo-mo carnage and widescreen shots of snowy landscapes.

Director Marcus Nispel (rising from the music video hordes) can't pull a performance out of anyone in his cast. Urban is as clunky as ever, staring into nothing to signify deep thoughts and the actual pathfinder, played by Russell Means, is utterly unconvincing, especially when he's slaying a cave bear without breaking a sweat. I suppose most of the blame for this colossal mess belongs to scripter Laeta Kalogridis (Alexander). Not only is Pathfinder saddled with cheesy Braveheart-riffs ("Run and you may live, fight and you will...") but everyone also speaks in a grating anachronistic style.

The one highlight of the film (unless you consider gory decapitations a highlight) is Daniel Pearl's stark cinematography. Pearl's another music video alumnus and there are certainly many moments when Pathfinder devolves into a blurry quick-cut mess, but most of the time the film looks stunning. Pearl dabs the picture in blues and grays and whites and there's something dreamlike, otherworldly, about the proceedings. In combination with art director Geoff Wallace and production designer Greg Blair, Pearl creates a primordial landscape of fetid, dark swamps filled with skulls and towering Wagnerian mountain peaks. This is the closest anyone's come to capturing the work of illustrator Frank Frazetta on screen.

Glossy cinematography and design aside, Pathfinder is a jumbled, hysterical muddle. The characters are not underdeveloped, they're nonexistent, the plot has so many holes you could drive an entire Panzer division through it and the acting plain stinks. Like a fever dream, Pathfinder is at times hallucinatory but ultimately, utterly forgettable.

This path looks really wet.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Starring : , Moon Goodblood, , , Kevin Loring, ,

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hijacktheworld68's picture


It's unfortunate that a general Internet audience is subject to such jargon. How often have we read this same review about some other not-so-hot film?If you're still learning how to formulate thoughts and communicate well-supported ideas to others, practice some modesty; it might serve you well when your ability to write comes into question.Brush up by getting an editor. Your writing is garbage.

7 years 6 months ago
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Tobian's picture


First off its Moon Bloodgood and second vikings in North America, not just an IDEA... it happened its part of History get an education MORON!!!!! The movie wasn't that bad, and if you can't understand the plot line you weren't paying attention.

7 years 7 months ago
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Agony's picture


I agree with all the comments stated here. The movie wasn't bad, very graphic yes. As for looking like other violent action movies, how many ways can you portray hand to hand combat around the year AD1000? Battle themes are bound to be repeated and dramatization in movie making and even real battle sequences tend to repeat themselves in methodology. I do agree that the Norsemen portrayed here seemed rather extreme, but remember movies are a work of art. The artists for this movie use extreme representations to get their point across to show the brutality of the raiders. Picture yourself even now in present day how you would describe a gang of hoodlums that decided to take over your quaint neighborhood. I imagine your description of the men (and women) will be quite overinflated, and the description of your neighborhood will show a quiet loving environment.Last comment I make to contradict your rather humdrum review; from what I could gather, the Dragon men reference was in regards to the prow of their ships ...extended dragon neck and head. Although I digress and admit that is my personal opinion.In conclusion this was not the best movie I have ever seen, but I thought it was worth a watch and already recommended it to others that enjoy historical period dramas.

5 years 2 months ago
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Noize's picture


"he idea that Vikings arrived in America long before Christopher Columbus is a fascinating one."Erm, his name was Leif Erikson, and he arrived in North America about 500 years before Columbus. You can read more about it here if you want: "And forget every image of Vikings you've ever seen, these guys are less Scandinavian herdsman"I take it you've never read any of Snorri Snelson's eddas? The name Beowulf ring a bell? These men would have been raiders, thus heavily armoured and savage. Yes, Viking society was based mostly around trade but raiding and taking slaves was still a very large part of it. After all, you need to have something to trade don't you.Granted, there are many historical inacuracies in this movie but so what, it's an action film. It's not a documentary. It's just a bit of light hearted, ultraviolent fun.

7 years 4 months ago
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hawkqey's picture


If you want to be a reviewer, first of all, get your facts straight. Like failing to see the correct spelling and misspelling of the names of actors. If you have watch the movie, you would have also noticed that it is Moon Bloodgood and not Moon GoodBlood. Pathfinder has its flaws, but overall, i think it's not bad.

7 years 4 weeks ago
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papalegba's picture


its easy to criticize, we do it better that anyone else in the world. as far as the size of the Viking longships, its actually quite realistic. three longships would have carried that number of men AND horses quite easily and often did. please check your facts especially when reviewing an historical fiction film. the cinematogrpahy is excellent, and IT IS AN ACTION FILM, RIGHT?! Karl UrbaN IS JUST FINE AS IS Clancy Brown. not to mention Russel Means. Its a good film and its easy to see why the dirctor got the nod for the Conan Film

5 years 5 months ago
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Pathfinder Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2007


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