This movie blows. Hard. And that's unfortunate. I'm a big fan of the sword/sandal/sorcery genre, and vikings have a particular place in my heart. Sadly, this movie sodomizes and decapitates the redeeming qualities other fantasy action movies have.
First, the casting. Zachery Ty Bryan of Home Improvement fame just looks and sounds like a man-child, and Daz Crawford is really too swarthy to play a fair-skinned Northman, looking more Egyptian or Moorish. Squinty-eyed motherf*cker Mac Brandt was, to me, the most believable as Baldur, and the only character whose flowery way of speaking matched his thoughtful nature. That brings me to the second big F-up, the dialogue.
Every viking speaks like a retarded Shakespeare tried to make them sound dramatic. They over-explain everything that they do and that happens to them, using either Tarzan like speech or bad metaphor to make them sound historical. And even though they all keep swearing oaths about killing enemies or risking their lives, most the time they just stand around, or worse, run away. Which reminds me of the third F-up.
I admit, I'm only 1/5 or 1/4 of the way through the movie, but I have yet to seen any actual swordplay. Yes, a severed head did get thrown at a remaining sentry, and in another scene several men stand within a foot of some were-creatures, but all you see them do is shout, which they do as if they want to convey the idea of action without actually moving. Not showing the first confrontation that occurs can build suspense, but after a while you need to have some combat.
The movie is not without some good points. "Vikings" is basically point #1. All the characters are named after Viking gods, and seemed to follow the basic personality corresponding to mythology, without being a literal allegory. Point #2: The weapons and armor are some of the most realistic I've seen in a viking flick, but as I mentioned above it seems they rarely get used. It's too bad the accurate weapons and gritty scenery are mixed with some terrible CGI. "Dream" sequences courtesy of ZTB's Thor are horribly done, even with their so-dark-you-can-barely-see-it tint, everything in the sequence seems fake and cartoony. Luckily, from what I can tell the monsters are guys in suits rather than bad animations, but the camera shows them for fractions of seconds before blurrily panning away.
All in all, this is a movie that I really want to be decent, but which has failed to be anything more than terrible. Although unburdened by the cheese of such Hollyword fare as Pathfinder, which had higher production values but little substance, it lacks any of it's own integrity. I thoroughly enjoyed the 13th Warrior, but Hammer of the Gods cannot be compared in any way. While Keith Urban and Antonio Banderas are not the best actors, they played much better main characters than any in this movie. And none of the actors in HotG could compare to Vladimir Kulich as Buliwyf from the 13th in looks, voice, or presence.
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