Viking movies


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Sometime in the next year before Outlander hits theaters I want to catch up on some viking movies. So here's the playlist so far:

First up is "Beowulf and Grendel." This Canada/ Iceland Production was shot in Iceland and start Gerard Butler. Outlander is essentially Beowulf where the hero and monster are aliens. Interestingly the costumes from this movie were shipped to Canada and are used in outlander as costumes for all the extras.

The second I've seen a long time ago. "the Thirteenth Warrior" is based on Michael Chrichton's "Eaters of the Dead" which he wrote a a dare to make Beowulf entertaining. It's been a while since I've read the novel. THe movie had some great cinematography. Someday I hope they make an extended cut available. Read on here for info on some of what was shot and not used:

Third up is Pathfinder that stars Karl Urban -who was originaly slated to play the Kainan role in Outlander. Mostly this is of interest because it is a contemporary viking movie. I don't know if it's getting a theatrical release or not.
A young Viking boy is left behind by his people in North America. A stranger in a strange land, the boy is raised by a tribe of American Indians – the very people the Vikings had sworn to destroy. When Vikings again storm the eastern shores, waging a barbaric campaign, they slaughter the tribe that adopted the young man. Now 25, he wages a violent personal war to stop the Viking‘s trail of death and destruction.
Here's some neat poster art:

Have any thoughts or more suggestions for Viking movies to get in the mood with? Let me know what you think here.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Review: Beowulf & Grendel 67%

So I sat down tonight to watch the recent Beowulf and Grendel and I figured I should share some thoughts on the film. I can't comment on how much or little it follows the original, but will examine the film as it stands alone.

The film follows the the story of Beowulf (Gerard Butler) who along with 12 other Geats sail to King Hrothgar's (Stellan Skarsgård) territory to help him fend off a vicious troll that attacks at night, killing the able-bodied Danes in his village. Though it seems the troll is also vengefull for years before Hrothgar had killed the trolls father but had spared the boy himself.

In parts the movie is a drama and adventure, and less an action movie, which both work for and against this movie. The biggest misstep is the way grendel is introduced. The movie wants to not just treat Grendel as a monster, yet the young grendel just looks silly as a hairy little blond boy with a whispy beard. The film starts with the death of the elder troll and then cuts forward to the grown up grendel attacking the viking village. And his incoherent babbleing just sound very silly at the outset. The movie barely recovers from this and fights continuously from there on for credibility. Though half way through it does seem to strike a balance with this character. Much more would have been gained had it remained more from Beowulfs perspective with the audience learning Grendels history just before, or as the main character does. And as such, silly scenes like Grendel bowling with victims' heads or peeing on the great hall's doors don't help. There's the great addition to the story of a christian missionary that servers wonderfully as comic relief rendering those scenes even more useless. The end result is that the first half of the movie is no where near as engaging as it could be, and even takes away from the emotional potiential of the last half.

The other main complaint is Sarah Polley as whore/witch. Though she can be an ok actress, and despite her character having a reason to have a different accent, her canadian accent is simply out of place in this film. The first few times you hear her speak it makes you wonder if she's even trying to act though her character fares better as the movie goes on.

Gerard Butler plays a good Beowulf. and for the most part the acting is more than adequate throughout. Stellan Skarsgård though does an excellent job of portraying the tortured king Hrothgar, a man who can't seem to overcome the sins of the past and is uncertain of redemption in the future.

The movie was filmed in Iceland and makes very good use of the sparse landscape and rocky shores. The scenery and locations look great on film.

Costume design is top notch which is good news considering they are reusing them on the extras in the upcoming Outlander, staring Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, John Hurt, and Ron Perlman.

Music is somewhat lowkey throughout, but is adequate where needed. Theres no memprable main theme or anything... in fact I can't remember how a single bar from the film goes, though maybe that's a good thing.

All in all, it was engaging at times, and fun much of the time. It's a rather odd film though with some near fatal flaws.


Rear Admiral
This is based on that famous Viking poem known only as "Beowulf", I've never even knew there was a film about it.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
This is based on that famous Viking poem known only as "Beowulf", I've never even knew there was a film about it.

The Thirteenth Warior with Antonio Banderas is based on Michael Chrichton's Eaters of the Dead, which is also somewhat based on Beowulf. There's also aparently an animated australian film based on it as well. Outlander will be loosely based on Beowulf, or at least Beowulf was the starting point for the first draft with aliens standing in for Beowulf and the monster.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
To briefly follow up on a previous post about movies based on the old Beowulf poem, there is apparently an animated feature Due out Nov 2007 that's in post production with various hollywood tallent attached to lend voices (including anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar). It's a Robert Zememekis movie I guess using the same animation techniques as The Polar Express, (though supposedly more photo-realistic).

So Hollywood caught wind and is in a Viking fad are they? Hmmm

Also, I guess there was also some wierd modern update crap version with Christopher lambert from some time around 1999 or 2000.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Review: The 13th Warrior

After a bit off time to mull over this movie I've finally sat down to write a short review. Based on Michael Chrichtons novel "Eaters of the Dead" which is loosely based on Beowulf, it amounts to an entertaining viking romp that has some peculiar flaws.

The movie centers on an Arab named Ibn who acompanies a group of vikings on a quest to destroy a feared foe that is aflicting a viking village. Banished from his kingdom as a diplomat for falling for the wife of a noble, he acompanies a trade mission north where he encounters the vikings.

I don't really feel like delving into the plot indepth as it's basically similar to Beowulf and there are plenty of resources where you can find more detailed info about the plot.

I did feel the movies good points outweighed the bad. THe good: For the most part the movie is exciting and adventurous. Most of the production design is great whether or not authentic, and the movies locations all look great on film. The camera work infuses and almost mystical feel to the forests and inlets.

There's some discussion online of the historical acurracy of the armor seen in the movie. I wonder why this is an issue in a story based on a book where the villains are supposed to be some kind of neanderthal tribe. However, my take was that they had scavenged, bought, traded, and pillaged their various costumes.

Some of the main complaints about the movie involve the pacing. The first hour is pretty good as we follow Ibn's (and his name isn't Ibn but that's what the vikings call him because his name is more complicated) journey to the Viking village, but from there the pacing is almost hurried. Possibly this has to do with the rumored cutting and reshooting Chrichton did because he didn't like how Mctiernan's film was straying from the book to give the characters greater depth.

As a side issue, maybe someday there will actualy be an "eaters of the dead" DVD. McTiernan's version was complete including a score that apparently Chrichton didn't like. So technically, "Eaters of the Dead" is the title of the Mctiernan version that has pretty much never been seen. The final re-cut and edits were renames The Thirteenth Warrior, possibly to make it more boxoffice friendly.

Some of the differences include scenes with the "wendol mother." THey thought it was too Cruel to have Buliwyf (a take on the name Beowulf) kill an old lady so they reshot it with a young pretty girl that in no way is old enough to have given birth to a whole clan, though that doesn't really matter if she's now the new "mother."

There's also a big question about where the Wendol keep their horses? That part didn't make much sense and the movies climax seems to be when the warriors get out of the Wendol Lair. Theres a seemingly climactic battle at the end that the movie should have been building up to, but ultimately it seemed disapointing. It reminded me a bit of what happened to the WC movie when they cut out the climactic knife fight. You're expecting a big huge space battle and they just easily pick off all the enemy capships one by one. THere's also one or two other subplots that seemingly go nowhere.

In all the movie is fun and recomended. I feel better recommending this one than Beowulf & Grendel, which while interesting and possibly truer to the original story of Beowulf, was oddly flawed in ways that seem opposite to those in The Thirteenth Warrior.

A complaint though that isn't really the movies fault: The initial scenes - that are supposed to be somewhere in the middle of Europe I suppose - come off odd to me. I know where those scenes were shot and I know the area and terrain so It throws me out of the scene. I can's stop thinking about the stretch of highway from Williams Lake towards Cache Creek and into the Fraser Canyon.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff

That's one I haven't seen yet. It looks humorous. Is the new DVD even available in North America yet? Here's a blurb about "the director's son's version"
Working with his son Bill, director Terry Jones drastically changed the film; with a complete change of scene order, brand new 5.1 audio and an enhanced picture transfer, this Director's Son's Cut is the film finally the way Terry wanted it!

Also includes original UK theatrical version!
All-new audio commentary from director Terry Jones
Interview with Terry Jones and son Bill Jones
Extended cast interviews
'Making Of' featurette
Photo gallery
Feature reports

Don't forget episode 8. Wing Commander AND Vikings.

Hehehe, though he had more in common with Heman than actual vikings... But he was from Space!
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Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Apparently Sci-fi channel aired a film recently they made called 'Grendel' which they deem a "Re-imagining" of the Beowulf poem. From what I've read it sounds like a rush project to capitalize on the current hollywood viking fever.

I'm not entirely disapointed I missed it as it sounds pretty awful. Take a look at this review:

to sum it up: dopey interpretation of a classic tale presented way too seriously, lead actor with a monotone voice playing a poorly realized hero, and monster action that's pretty much devoid of thrill or chills. Overall, I never felt bored, but I wasn't all that entertained either. I suppose the film could make for an acceptable time waster, though surely you can find better ways to waste that time. GRENDEL’s a film that doesn't earn any praise nor does it deserve copious amounts of scorn. Mockery, on the other hand, that it most definitely deserves. BEOWULF may be an epic poem, but the Sci-Fi Channel's GRENDEL is epic hokum.



I just hope these cheap "because everyone else is doing it" cash-ins don't spoil the general populations mood for viking period pieces.

Pathfinder looks equally as hokey. Looks like it hits theaters near the end of April around the globe... though for some reason IMDB says it's already opened in russia, though I doubt it. Aint-it-cool-news has some early reviews in which they pan it fairly evenly across the board. Watch the trailer and judge for yourself I guess:


gh0d (Administrator)
I've not seen Grendel myself, but from reports of others whose opinions bear some weight with me (even if I sometimes don't agree with them), it was complete and utter drek, in the SFC-created movie way.


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I haven't bother watching Beowulf or Pathfinder yet... I guess I should rent them.

Apparently there's another viking movie with Ryan Phillippe and... I can't remember the other guy off hand - in the works. I'm too lazy to google it at the moment. But keep an eye out for it.

On another related note, there are some neat sounding video games you might want to try. THere's the Beowulf tie-in game as well as Viking: Battle for Asgard that looks kind of neat.

S Volsung

Review of Pathfinder

There's an interesting review of Pathfinder on SFFMedia ( - the reviewer finds more depth to it than most others have. I watched Pathfinder after reading this review so am not sure how much it influenced my appreciation of the movie, but I certainly watched it expecting a fair bit - and found it. Either it's a really good review or I'm easily influenced!
Site also has a good (though long!) review of Zemecki's Beowulf (
and a short piece on Outlander (


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Ok, I found a few links about the movies supposedly comming out that I had been thinking about.

First up, Variety recently reported that director Menno Meyjes next film will be will be a $20 million Viking movie titled "Last Battle Dreamer". Apparently it's a love story reminicent of Braveheart "set in 9th century England, against the backdrop of the Viking invasions." It's supposed to star Sean Bean and Ryan Phillippe, but that could change, and filming will apparently start in June (though it's been pushed back a couple times because of scheduling issues with the cast)


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Well, this is interesting... Apparently another viking movie is in the casting process in the UK. Valhalla Rising already has Mads Mikkelsen attached (the bad guy in the last Bond movie) as awarrior who has had his tongue cut out. They're trying to cast the boy who speaks for him apparently:

Here's the production company's website and the synopsis from therein:

Mute slave HARALD escapes his Scottish masters with the help of 10 year old ARE, torturing and killing them before joining a band of dispossessed Vikings. They go to sea, determined to return to Scandinavia to fight the spread of Christianity, but for HARALD the journey is also a personal one to discover his own origins. Caught in a terrible storm, the group drift for 40 days until, on the verge of death, they find themselves in a freshwater river. The land seems at once strange yet familiar.

When they come under attack by unseen assailants, the groups' quest for their homeland takes on a bitter urgency as one-by-one they succumb to the onslaught, dying at the hands of the invisibles. Worse, they are no clearer about where they are or if this place even exists outside their imagination. Have they finally reached the new world, or Valhalla?

Meanwhile, HARALDS's search for identity is compromised when ARE is captured. As the enemy reveal themselves, HARALD realises he has finally found his identity but at too high a price. As ARE’s life is threatened, HARALD is faced with an impossible choice; save the boy or save his soul?
Apparently it will be shot in Scotland in September, with a budget of about £3.5million and "will employ a full-scale working replica of a Viking longboat".


Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Too Human, and other games with viking references

Currious side note, I tried the Too Human demo on my 360 and interestingly it's very much viking themed even though it's a standard Action-RPG with a slight sci-fi slant to it. All the Character names and other game events are based on Norse mythology etc etc. It would be interesting to see how it plays out over the whole game. Can't say I was crazy about the control scheme though.

Another Curious note, Max Payne the game also had heavy norse mythology references through out. There's an Aesir Corp, the drug Valkyr, and Various character names again taken from mythology. A memorable scene in the game has a hotel with a sign on top with enough lights burnt out so that the remaining ones spell Ragnarok.

Also, they kept this in the upcomming movie. In the trailer you can see a shot of the sign and there is an Aesir corp logo visible in the trailer..


In Max least in the game, only goes this far...and it is kinda negative. I do not expect the movie to be any more positive. Although I enjoyed the game with its deep backstory and how it hooks you in.

Yeah, there have been some console games released with Viking Age themes and/or using mythology. Most made in the US and Europe. A few made in Japan. PC videogames with Norse or Viking themes go back almost to the video game beginnings, but there hasn't been too many made in the past. "The Lost Vikings", "Hammer of Thor", "Heimdal", "Ragnarok ("Rogue"like D&D), come to mind. A few others that are action, adventure or puzzle oriented.

Several popular Strategy games have expansions with Vikings or about them. "Medieval: Viking Invasion", "Warhammer 40,000", "Vikings: Strategy of Ultimate Conquest", "Shadow of the Raven2", "Age of Empires" et.c...being some.

But pieces of the mythology has most certainly crept in more "SciFi" genre. Since the Vikings were best known for being intrepid explorers and merchants too....why not "Space"?. This kind of theme has been used in SciFi writing for decades in one form or another.

Essentially D&D is based on the LOTR books by JRR Tolkien who was a Anglo-Saxon/Old Norse/Viking Age scholar, so if anything, you have those. Including the popular LOTR based videogames made over the years (remember....Riders of Rohan were "Vikings on Horseback" or at least "Vendel Period")

In late 2000 RUNE was released which was different from the previous "usual". A 3rd person action Viking Age/Fantasy that has a strong Viking Age/Mythology base. The developers (Human Head Studios) made its Single Player story very Sagalike about a young warrior who must go on a "hero's journey" to prevent Ragnarok. Its multiplayer is heavily influenced by the concept of the Asgardian "Vigrid's Plain" next to Valhalla where the warriors fight with more personal weapons (no long range/guns) to respawn as told in the Eddas to fight other warriors (AI and/or real people) online across the world. Has a "cult status" now amongst gamers who are looking for something different from the D&D.

REHoward and his "Conan" stories had a strong "Viking Mythology" flavor to them. This was kept with the MMORPG "Age of Conan" game. Other MMORPG games have been released like "Valhalla Chronicles" (Paradox Entertainment 2003) There are a few others "in the works" though that I know of.

PS3's "Viking: Battle for Asgard" is one of the more recent ones for console. Most of these I have mentioned you probably know about.

Oh, and yeah......I am a gamer and why the "list". (When not being a Viking Age reenactor for the last 35 years)