Merging extraterrestrial sci-fi with some Viking-age action

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Kainan (James Caviezel, center), who crash-landed his UFO on Earth, is joined by the Viking Wulfric (Jack Huston, right).

'By the hammer of Thor!" Tina Fey's Liz Lemon liked to exclaim in last season's 30 Rock. They could've used the line in Outlander, too.

Maybe they did and I just missed it - in one of those mead-hall scenes, perhaps, where wenches serve Vikings their grog, just before a giant monster from outer space goes on the attack.

That's when the hardy Norsemen shout "Bring me my blade, woman!" and trot off to get sliced and diced by this mysterious "dragon" that's descended like a curse.

An enjoyably goofy hybrid of extraterrestrial sci-fi and Iron Age action, Outlander boasts a super-serious Jim Caviezel in the title role. The Passion of the Christ star is a stranger who's crash-landed his UFO in the realm of King Rothgar (John Hurt), having unwittingly taken a humongous, carnivorous predator - a Moorwen - along for the ride.

Passing himself off as a visitor from "the North," the Outlander - Kainan - is greeted with mistrust. But slowly the Vikes take a liking to the taciturn fella in the sleeveless suit made of funny fabric, especially Freya (Sophia Myles), the sword-wielding daughter of the king. Myles, who has a bit of a Kate Winslet air about her and was very good in last spring's Scottish indie, Mister Foe, walks around in animal skins and gets off ridiculously campy dialogue without losing her grip. It's an acting feat!

The special effects are passable, Ron Perlman is virtually unrecognizable as a rival Viking, and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia double for Norway without much trouble - thanks to some Lord of the Rings-style computer graphics work.


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).