Pathfinder (2007)

Dashing through the snow, on a viking’s iron shield, down the hill you go, it seems your fate is sealed! Nordic henchmen pursue, on an Indian bobsled, arrows whizz and vikings know if they fall off they’re dead!

This was an altogether silly movie. Sure, it is at its core an Indians vs. Vikings action flick. Despite the fact that you wouldn’t think such a movie would need to make much sense to be successful, this movie makes no damn sense at all and it doesn’t work out well for the viewer.The dialogue, as far as it goes, is acceptable for a brainless action movie. The Native Americans (in case you thought this was about the Hindu-type of Indians… which… well, that’s an interesting idea, there) speak English, and the Norsemen speak in a subtitled Ye Olde Vyking Tyngue. That’s odd, but whatever. More importantly, there is barely any dialogue at all. 90% of the time, you hear soft grunting and moaning in the background. Instead of speech. I really don’t even know how to properly describe it… anytime the characters do not have lines to say, they breathe heavily and make animal noises while going about their business. But quietly. And this is just for the Indians, as the vikings have background growling instead. It was quite distracting, not to mention annoying… I would gladly punch someone in the head for being subjected to it. Maybe I was just in a bad mood?

But talk is cheap. Now it’s time to talk about the meat and potatoes of Pathfinder. The meat and BLOOD potatoes, if you get my meaning. Action, baby! I came to see some Old World asses getting beaten down. Did Pathfinder deliver?

Yes. But in a pretty lame way. Most of the action sequences involve profoundly ridiculous situations – such as the downhill chase scene through the snow with Karl Urban on a snow disc and five vikings giving chase on a sled. Several of the vikings fall off like clumsy oafs, either being knocked off by low branches or simply by falling off and getting impaled on trees and such. Despite this, the number of vikings on the sled never gets any lower, so Karl the Great White Native escapes only by zipping off of a cliff and into a waterfall.

Another terrific moment in cinematic history occurs when Karl has dug a gigantic concealed pit full of spikes (very quickly, of course, and by himself), then attempts to bait a horde of vikings into his trap. But then, oh dear, a bunch of native warriors descend unannounced upon the vikings – and fall into the trap instead. This is not great news for Ghost (which is Karl’s badass Indian name, of course). Surprisingly, not even ONE of the vikings falls to the ground in helpless laughter.

My favorite violence probably occurred when Ghost sliced the face of one of the head honcho vikings, and the dude’s eyeball fell out onto the ground.And, yeah, the whole movie pretty much goes on like that. Brainless, genuinely purposeless spurts of violence. Maybe you were hoping for a pretty cool chase / action movie like Apocalypto… but if you ever hear someone make that comparison in Pathfinder’s favor, they are lying.

The film climax (since you’d better not ever end up watching Pathfinder, I figured I might as well spoil it) involves a lot of stock footage of avalanches, which transform into falling rocks when the film’s characters are shown. Ghost convinces the vikings to walk along a very narrow mountainside trail and tie themselves together, so that they won’t all fall off and die. Then he slingshots the viking at the end, causing most of the vikings to fall off like dominoes and die. Except, well, apparently there are a lot of ledges below the trail, and most of the vikings land on those and are okay. Then the stock footage appears, which probably takes care of them. Ghost is finally a hero, and the last shot of the movie shows him on the near side of a big lagoon. On the far side are a bunch of burning viking ships, which Ghost has apparently set fire to because he’s holding a big torch. I’m not sure how he did that. Maybe he’s just that damn good.

Thus concludes my very bitter review. I mean, the movie wasn’t even consistently roll-on-the-floor-laughing-ly bad; I could have accepted my fate of watching it if it had been. But the other bits were just bad in a really boring way. Or just really boring. Just like The Wicker Man (2006), Pathfinder could easily be turned into an entertaining 3-minute highlight reel on YouTube. And I would recommend that you watched that clip, instead of ever subjecting yourself to the experience of seeing the whole movie.

Oh yeah, and I should mention that the costumes were OK. A little too over-the-top in the cases of the vikings, but decent. If you have a phobia concerning eyeliner, though, this movie will put you into the fetal position.Oh yeah, and one of the vikings has a flip-down visor (like Sir Galahad’s in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Just like Sir Galahad, he flips it up all the time and that gave me the giggles.

The theater experience is always precariously unpredictable, and in the case of Pathfinder there were several unpleasant things going on. New but unreclinable seats, and absolutely disgusting popcorn. Yeesh. The crowd was small, so only one guy actually walked out of the movie. My pride tells me that the other patrons liked the clear, ringing sound of my laughter.


  1. …Aaaand so, the very next movie we saw was The Condemned. Do we need to be beaten over the head with sticks or something?


  2. <>Department of Internal Corrections:<>– The knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the troublesome visor is <>Sir Bedevere<>, not Sir Galahad. Yep, it just now randomly occured to me that I had named the wrong guy in one of my comments (and a cold, geeky sweat broke out on my forehead). I apologise, Terry Jones.


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