A remake of the excellent 1987 Norwegian outdoors adventure about a lone boy’s efforts to save his tribe from a band of marauding killers in frozen Lapland 1000 years ago, Pathfinder relocates the action to America centuries before Columbus discovered the continent, and there along the snowy wastes of the north-eastern seaboard pits peace-loving natives against an invading army of monstrous Viking warriors. It’s an exciting if ridiculous concept (although there is some historical evidence suggesting Norse warriors once roamed the lands and waterways of what would become New York city), but confusingly executed fight sequences, lapses in pacing and an uneven tone that shifts back and forth between horror movie and action adventure ensure the film fails to live up to its potential.
Marcus Nispel (director of the not at all bad remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) mounts some impressive set-pieces (such as the discovery of wrecked long-ship complete with entombed Norsemen), and the film, shot in British Columbia, certainly feels authentic. In Karl Urban (the Rohan cavalryman from The Lord of the Rings) the film boasts a fine-looking action hero, as it does a fearful villain in Clancy Brown’s hulking Viking lord. Nevertheless, the promise of this bungled enterprise remains squandered (due, rumour has it, to the studio’s indecision over certification, resulting in cuts and re-shoots), and the final result is as frustrating as the similarly disappointing pseudo-fantasy romp The 13th Warrior.