John Hurt

O is for Outlander (2008)

During the reign of the Vikings, Kainan (Jim Caviezel) a man from a far-off world, crash lands on Earth bringing with him a deadly alien predator known as the Moorwen. On Earth he meets King Hrothgar (John Hurt) and his people who he tries to convince that something a lot deadlier than warring tribes is out to get them.

Outlander is one of those films I’d seen pop up on Netflix for ages before I finally decided to watch it, and admittedly I thought it’d be pretty rubbish based on the premise. I mean, guy from a place with far superior technology has to deal with primitive Vikings? It sounded cringey. Luckily, instead of being condescending towards the townspeople, Kainan is actually a pretty chill and adaptable guy and looks for a way to work with these people, even if they don’t believe him straightaway.

While you might think that there may be humour derived from the culture clash between Kainan and the Viking people, that’s not the case at all. In fact, Outlander is serious and gets straight down to the action and it is often bloody action too.

The tension in Outlander comes from two places, the suspense of waiting to see the Moorwen and the conflict between Kainan and warrior Wulfric (Jack Huston). The two of them butt heads over how to deal with the threat facing them all as they struggle to trust one another. Surprisingly, while Wulfric is set up as an antagonist for Kainan the film does allow him some growth and their dynamic becomes interesting. The film makes you wait to see the Moorwen, showing you glimpses of the large creature and flashes of light as Kainan and the others go hunting. It also throws in a few red herrings as well, making you wait even longer for the big reveal.

The blend of sci-fi monster and Middle Age aesthetic works surprisingly well, and though sometimes the film does drag, Outlander ends up being an unexpectedly engaging monster movie. 3/5.

REVIEW: Snowpiercer (2013)

snowpiercer elenasquareeyesSet in a future where the world is in a new ice age and all life on the planet has died except the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe. On the train a class system emerges where people like Mason (Tilda Swinton) control the train and those at the tail end struggle to survive.

Snowpiercer is a phenomenal film. That might sound like a bit of an over-exaggeration but it’s really not. It does a great job building this desolate world and the class system on the train that you can believe in and accept all the characters and their motives. Curtis (Chris Evans) becomes the sort of leader of the people from the tail end of the train, he is the one who puts their plans into action and makes the tough choices. You learn more about him as the film progresses and really his journey through the train is a much a physical one as a mental one.

You could say there’s some typical characters for the genre, there’s the wise old man (John Hurt), Curtis’ right-hand man (Jamie Bell), the tough mother figure (Octavia Spencer) and the silent genius (Kang-ho Song) but through brilliant performances and an interesting script, they become more fleshed out and compelling.

The action sequences in Snowpiercer are gripping and well shot. The fights are all in such a confined space that it sometimes gets claustrophobic and the violence really is brutal. The cinematography is also worth a mention, the way colour is used at various points of the film is interesting and it really is like another character in the film.

The film does a great job at showing that actions have consequences and people will die. It may be a sci-fi film but it has a great social commentary amongst the action and the dialogue and chemistry between the characters is one of the highlights of the film.

Snowpiercer is an amazing film that everyone should watch and it’s really one of those films that work even better if you go into it knowing as little as possible. 5/5.