Pathfinder – ✩✩ ( out of ✩✩✩✩✩ )
I really wanted to like Pathfinder. Although there are things I enjoyed about the film there are also way too many odd moments, groan moments, and an overall sense that the movie doesn’t fit together. In terms of look and lighting it’s a stunning film (when it’s in focus, which seemed to be a problem at times during our screening) and the cinematography presents a lush a detailed version of the world. So it’s got that going for it, but it also has its share of issues.
Speaking of the world, the film is shot at various locations – a forest, a swamp, a waterfall, a jungle, mountain passages, and a mountain top. One of the film’s most obvious failings is these settings are not worked into an overall geography which needs to be explained to the audience. Scenes were shot at various locations and then, it seemed to me, randomly cut together so characters jump from location to location without giving the audience an understanding of where exactly they are, or where they are going, at any point of the film.
The story, though not terribly original to anyone that seen a Conan flick (or anything similar), is enough to carry the events forward. You know where the story is going but, for the most part, it still presents an entertaining journey that if handled better might have made the backbone a good film.
In the film a young Viking child is the sole survivor of a shipwreck on the shores of America. He is taken in by a tribe and raised as one of their own. Fifteen years pass and we discover Ghost (Karl Urban) lives together with his people but still apart. The arrival of a new group of pillaging Vikings provides the opportunity for Ghost to prove himself to his tribe and find his destiny.
The acting, for this type of film, is pretty good. Urban isn’t going to win any awards but as a morose brooding action hero who looks good with his shirt off he does what the script calls for. Moon Bloodgood is also fine as a potential love interest for Ghost, though her character isn’t given much to do over the course of the flick.
So the script, though not original, is good enough to carry this type of film. The acting is passable. The action scenes are well shot, and the overall look of the film is quite interesting.
But the film just never comes together as all these separate parts aren’t put together well, characters jump from location to location without proper explanation, and events occur which are needed to reach the film’s climax that aren’t well thought out or explained. For example – the Vikings loose Ghost and yet track him across the mountains, rocks, rivers, swamps, etc. Okay, but how are they tracking him? What clues is he leaving? They don’t know where he’s going so how are they following him?
The movie’s real failing is what it doesn’t show. How do characters get from the top of the mountain to the jungle? How do the Vikings track Ghost through a jungle? When did Ghost become Rambo and learn so much about guerrilla warfare?
Oh, and why do the Vikings, with such large numbers, only attack Ghost one or two at a time and at countless times, where they could riddle his back with arrows, decide not to shoot until he kills their buddies and runs out of range? There are too many such inconsistencies that make Pathfinder a bungled mess, which if it had been handled better could have been a nice popcorn flick.
Pathfinder (2 out of 5 Stars) is Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, with a running time of 99 minutes.