‘Outlander’: Outlandish; Action flick combines extreme violence with goofy special effects

Alien versus Predator versus Viking.

That's a lot of versuses, and they account for only a sliver of the action in the wigged-out "Outlander," which dips lustily into "Beowulf" and "Starman" and "The Thirteenth Warrior" and about a dozen other titles.

Is there a single element that could plausibly link all of these various movies and disparate genres?

As it happens, yes. Extreme violence.

"Outlander" tries to observe the most important rule of cinema - no movie that features a character named Rothgar (or Ragnar) and multiple beheadings can be all bad.

"Outlander," though, proves that such a movie can suffer from prolonged bouts of badness. Here, the Viking movie brio (mead-chugging, axe-throwing, bear-slaughtering, wench-wooing), mixes awkwardly with a sci-fi storyline that amplifies the movie's weakness for goofy special effects.

The plot is not easy to summarize, but essentially it's about a space commando (Jim Caviezel) who crash-lands among some Norsemen whose kingdom is being terrorized by a dragonlike creature.

He's held prisoner until it's noted that he has special dragon-killing skills - at that point, he becomes suddenly popular with the king (John Hurt) and his foxy daughter (Sophia Myles). Ron Perlman shows up as leading of a rival Viking clan, or maybe it's a biker gang. Hard to tell, and it doesn't really matter.

Soon, everyone who's humanoid has taken up arms against the dragon creature, which turns a glowing red just before it attacks, which explains why natural selection has not favored its species.

Kudos are in order for the entire cast, which recites the corny dialogue, and never once turns a glowing red. *

Produced by Chr*s Roberts, d*rected by Howard McCa*n, wr*tten by D*rk Blackman, Howard McCa*n, mus*c by Geoff Zanell*, d*str*buted by the We*nste*n Co.


Outlander

Directed by Howard McCain. With Drakaina, John Hurt, Sophia Myles, James Caviezel, Aidan Devine, Matt Cooke, Ron Perlman, Jack Huston, Katie Bergin, John Beale. Distributed by Third Rail Releasing.

Running time: 1 hours, 55 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for violence).