The 13th Warrior

"Weak"

The 13th Warrior Review


After a year's worth of post-production monkeying, "The 13th Warrior" has finally come to theaters, and its still a big mess.

The screen adaptation of an early Michael Crichton novel about 10th Century Vikings called "Eaters of the Dead," its an abbreviated and shallow epic that comes off like an over-produced and dead-serious episode of the campy cult TV show "Xena: Warrior Princess."

Antonio Banderas stars in the ethnicity roulette role of Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, an elegant Arab poet banished (as an ambassador) to northern Europe as punishment for diddling a sultan's wife. This is hurriedly explained in a slap-dash introductory voice-over that seems to substitute for at least 30 minutes of action wisely (but sloppily) pruned from film.

As the movie opens, Ibn arrives at a Norse encampment where the craggy warriors are preparing to sail home upon news that a remote village on their coastline is being "menaced by a terror that has no name."

"Thirteen men must go," proclaims a shrieking, bone-rolling soothsayer with a stereotypically muddy face, scratchy voice and patches-of-animal-hide wardrobe, "and the 13th warrior must be no Norseman!"

So, reluctantly, Ibn falls in with this band long-haired, hard-drinking, broadsword-swinging brawlers -- who seem to be a cross between Klingons and Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" clan.

When they arrive in the Viking homeland after a stormy, CGI-enhanced sea journey, "The 13th Warrior" becomes a bloody, big-budget, beheadings-galore battle movie as the "terror that has no name" -- which "comes in the night, in the mist" with "teeth like a lion, heads like a bear" -- begins repeatedly assaulting the village.

Hundreds of these beasts attack the nearly defenseless community a few times in organize hordes -- somehow always being driven off by our dwindling baker's dozen of heroes and a minicule local battalion. After a while, Ibn and the Norsemen realize the "terror" is just a huge army of movie cliche cavemen decked out in imposing bear skins and riding big horses.

Directed by John McTiernan (who shot this film long before he started his recent "Thomas Crown Affair" remake) -- but taken over, rumor has it, by producer/novelist Crichton toward the end of production -- "The 13th Warrior" is a handsome picture, but for an attempted epic it is sorely lacking in depth and scope. Thanks to obvious and over-enthusiastic cuts, subplots are left dangling and seemingly key characters go entirely unexplored.

Neither is it all that savvy in the common sense department. For instance, there are a least a dozen transparent logistical problems regarding this purportedly terrible and colossal army of legendary monsters that is so easily forced to retreat night after night from a presumably indefensible village.

And can somebody tell me why these cavemen are attacking, how they've managed to stay hidden for the two generations since their last wave of attacks and what they were doing in the mean time? How about just letting me in on why these Norsemen can't deduce for themselves that the legendary "fire worm" that snakes over the side of nearby mountains and scares them so is nothing more than a column of the cavemen carrying torches by the hundreds?

These are all the kind of problems that are easily forgiven in something as tongue-in-cheek as "Xena," which follows the ancient adventures of a ass-kicking Amazon. But "The 13th Warrior" isn't kidding around when it introduces an elderly woman oracle who speaks -- and looks -- like Yoda ("He too, you must kill!"), or when one of the Vikings notes that "there's barely a lad between 15 and 50" to defend the village. (Folks rarely lived to past 40 in the 922 A.D., something the screenwriter clearly didn't know.)

Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, Banderas' character, is based on a real historical figure who kept detailed diaries of his travels in Viking country. One can only imagine how much more interesting his biography might have been in place of this mosty ridiculous adventure.



The 13th Warrior

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th August 1999

Box Office Worldwide: $61.7M

Budget: $160M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 58

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ahmad Ibn Fadlān, as Buliwyf, Dennis Storhøi as Herger the Joyous, as Edgtho the Silent, as Helfdane the Fat, as Rethel the Archer, as Skeld the Superstitious, as Queen Weilew, as Roneth, as Ragnar - Dour, as Haltaf - Boy, Asbjørn 'Bear' Riis as Halga - Wise, as Weath - Musician, as Hyglak - Quarrelsome, as Melchisidek, as Caravan Leader

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.