The Saga of the Greenlanders is one of two medieval Icelandic works detailing Norse expeditions to North America. According to the saga writers, the Vikings sailed west from Iceland and Greenland and may have explored as far south as modern-day Manhattan, starting at least one settlement but eventually abandoning the endeavor. Pathfinder shows us why: man-boobs.
The film stars a cast of virtual uknowns and some up-and-comers who will soon be unknowns again. The protagonist, who is apparently called Ghost once during two hours, is played by Karl Urban, the well-known star of, well–he was blond in Lord of the Rings and shot guns at Jason Bourne, once. The obligatory sex object is Moon Bloodgood, recent nominee for the Most Dipthongs in One Name Oscar. The film also features Russell Means, who got lost on his way to Last of the Mohicans.
Pathfinder‘s Indians live a peaceful existence in a standard-issue grotesque, smoky village with mud streets, until the wicked purveyors of European Imperialism arrive to open a can of ethnic cleansing. Fortunately, the Vikings were still pagans at this time, or we would be treated to King Arthur-esque “Is this the work of your God?” sulks. In a masterfully-concealed racist message, Ghost must save the hapless Native Americans from Viking pillage, rape, and the importation of fire-water.
Pathfinder is the grimmest, most steely-eyed bad movie since Last Man Standing. Since I had neither the time nor the desire to meditate very deeply on Pathfinder‘s problems, I’ve distilled the most salient failures here in hope of doing some kind of justice to this injustice.
Problem 1: It’s derivative
It’s Lord of the 300 Apocalypto Bravehearts. Like Michael Bay’s mediocre The Island before it, Pathfinder’s every scene reminded me of three better scenes in better movies.
Problem 2: Diarrhea of the script
This movie goes on forever. Syd Field’s three-act structure is here altered to something like a seven-act structure, each act building on the badness of its predecessors. The film has no less than four separate climaxes, according to people who have actually managed to pay attention without killing themselves.
Problem 3: RCS
RCS stands for Roaring Critter Syndrome, a common affliction of bad movies. (According to experts, RCS is often simultaneously diagnosed with OhCD, or Overly-hairy Costume Disorder.) Here, no movement of the Vikings goes unaccompanied by lavish grunts and growls, like horned bears with a bowel obstruction.
Problem 4: Man-boobs
For a tribal people living on scant fish and grain, these Indians sure are fat. Except Ghost, of course, who is actually a trim, lithe Northern European thanks to his genetically-favored ab-crunching skills. Otherwise, every one of these pathfinders needs a “bro” and a trenchcoat.
I recommend this movie to Lousy Movie viewers with interests in history, Vikings, warfare, and realism and a desire for all of those interests to be flouted in favor of CG blood, modern Icelandic, murky photography, and sledding. Based on the rancorous and vitriolic audience response after prolonged exposure, I rate Pathfinder a steaming 1/5.