Review: Pathfinder – The Legend of the Ghost Warrior (2007)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m on 31/05/10.

So it’s come to this. I have tried my best to avoid negative reviews on this site for two reasons:

  • I like movies too much to bag them, finding redemption in some of the most heinous atrocities captured on celluloid (Teen Wolf FTW!).
  • Two – Everyone says I’m a really nice guy (someone said that once).

But then I watched Pathfinder: the Legend of the Ghost Warrior.

Set in a pre-Columbus North America (Vinland), Pathfinder (also a remake of the 1987 Norwegian flick of the same name) stars New Zealand thesp Karl Urban as Ghost; abandoned as a child by his colony of Nordic Viking brethren and adopted by a Native American tribe, Ghost is raised as one of them but is clearly an outsider struggling to assimilate due to his appearance. Years pass until another marauding Viking expedition (led by personal favourite Clancy Brown) shows up with evil intentions:  as Vikings do.

Although pretty to look at, the main problem with Pathfinder lies with the fact that director Marcus Nispel, with his history of television commercials and music videos, treats this feature as just that – a music video. The story is non-existent, as is the character development, which leads me to just not give a giraffe’s nut-sack about anything that happens for the excruciating 99 minute running time:

“What’s that? The guy that just got brutally slain by the ‘Dragon People’ was supposed to be a main character? No shit!?”

Sadly, Pathfinder tries to ride on the successful coattails of 300 – a movie that profitably portrayed story free ass-kickery – but it cannot replicate the magic that the Frank Miller opus presented. While 300 knowingly had its tongue firmly in cheek, Pathfinder simply takes itself too seriously and refuses to have any fun: a fate reciprocated by the viewing audience.

Appropriate snow attire.

Did I mention above how Pathfinder is pretty to look at? This is undoubtedly true, as the on-location shoot provides some fantastic scenery of the British Columbian wilderness. Such as shame it is then, that the production team insisted on the entire film to have a rather drab, washed-out aesthetic. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous looking, ‘hyper-violent’, fake-as-balls CG blood which surges from every gashed Viking fiend.
The acting is dodgy at best, but I’m unsure on whether the heinous dialogue is to blame or the actors. I know Karl Urban can act – he was great in Star Trek – so why am I cringing so much? It could be that for an ‘action star’, he would make a great accountant. Seriously; Pathfinder, Lord of the RingsDoom; I just don’t think that he’s the warrior that many roles have led us to believe (apart from the somewhat comical roles in TV’s Hercules: a perfect fit). He is a rad dude though, check it out:

Based on true events.

Channelling his all-imposing Kurgan of Highlander fame, Clancy Brown does all he can as the imposing Viking leader who loves to loot and plunder (much like a Captain Planet bad guy). Moon Bloodgood as Starfire got her role assumedly because no one else looked the part (her real name is cooler than her character’s, btw).

Much like Avatar steals borrows the story of Pocahontas (or Dances with Wolves, for that matter), you could say that Pathfinder resembles Tarzan, albeit with more violence and Vikings, and less wild animal companions (with less poo flinging?). It pretty much can be summed up as:

  • Abandoned boy is raised by a strange indigenous race.
  • Boy is made a part of the community but is still blatantly an outsider.
  • People from the boy’s heritage come back and boy must make a decision on whom to choose – family blood or the people that raised him.

Did I just describe Tarzan, or did I just describe Pathfinder? Hollywood is so lame.

I also understand that Marcus Nispel is helming a new Conan the Barbarian movie, due next year. I shudder

Calling Pathfinder a massive turd is a very strong, negative assessment to make on the movie. But as it turns out, it is a massive turd: so all is forgiven.

Award: The Dr. Ian Malcolm

– Umm, when it finished?

– …when it started?

– 300
– Pathfinder
 (1987 original, aka Ofelaš)
– Conan the Barbarian
– Tarzan

Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Written by: 
Laeta Kalogridis
Produced by: 
Marcus Nispel, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer
Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood, Clancy Brown, Ralf Moeller
Distributed by: 
20th Century Fox
Run length:
 99 minutes
Australian Release:
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