Director Marcus Nispel (2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) brings to the gloriously awful blood-filled epic, Pathfinder, just about what you’d expect from the director of C & C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” namely a lot of shirtless men; cheesy, sweat-filled action sequences; incredibly bad lyrics; zero substance; and a weird homoerotic vibe. But you gotta hand it to Nispel: For anyone aching to see an unintentionally hilarious, campy throwback to Conan the Barbarian-style flick, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than Pathfinder, a loose remake of the 1987 Oscar Nominated Norwegian film, Ofelas, though there is absolutely nothing Oscar worthy about this movie, unless the Academy decides to include a new category for superfluous penis waving.
The story picks up in North America, 600 years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. A bunch of scary Norseman with silly Viking helmets and hairy football pads (for a frame of reference, think the motorcycle goons from Weird Science) arrive on horse, slay a bunch of Native Americans because they can, and disappear. However, they leave behind one of their own, Ghost, a young boy who is adopted by a Native America tribe that isn’t feeling particularly good about the decision.
Flash ahead twenty years or so, and Ghost (Karl Urban) is now all growed up and looks a lot like a clean-shaven Eomer from The Lord of the Rings. Ghost apparently has something to do with the fulfillment of a prophecy. It’s hard to tell, though, because the Native Americans not only speak cryptically, but in nonsensical platitudes. “You are still haunted by the demons of your past. Until you face them, you’ll never know who you really are.”
Anyway, Ghost leaves the tribe for the day to hunt and you know, figure out the deal with those fucking demons, which apparently necessitates that he wear the silliest goddamn outfit imaginable. While he’s out fetching dinner and playing with the wildlife, the Vikings return and pillage his village and decapitate the Native Americans while loud, very ominous music plays. When he gets back, it looks like the wheelbarrow scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Just a bunch of dead Native Americans piled on top of each other and a weepy Ghost to eulogize their remains with the salt of his tears.
Expectedly, those tears turn to righteous get-yourself-some-honor anger right goddamn quick. And so, the quest to avenge the death of his tribe begins, which mostly features Ghost jumping out of the water (think Predator) and sticking his very large knife into Vikings or riding his horse and sticking his very large knife into Vikings or running through snow and sticking his very large knife into Vikings. Sometimes, he runs away from the Vikings, so they won’t stick their very large knives into him. Other times, it’s hard to tell who is sticking whose knife into whom because the camera won’t fucking stay still — it’s as though Nispel believes that if the camera shakes violently enough and the edits are quick enough, we might be tricked into giving a shit. And, damnit all, nobody has the decency to keep their goddamn head attached to their neck for any length of time, though it’s easy to tell when one of the hundreds of beheading will occur because it’s presaged by a screech of music that rises about 17 decibels. Every fucking five seconds, another loud noise. Scream. Yell. Decapitate. Scream. Yell. Decapitate. If this were a drinking game built around decapitations, I’d have sliced off my own head twenty minutes into Pathfinder.
There’s not much else going on in Pathfinder besides the knife-sticking and the occasional snippet of dialogue — there are only about 20 lines of it in the entire film, but even that felt gratuitous. The blundering dialogue, in fact, sounds as though it’s being spoken in a dubbed Hong Kong martial arts film, only there is not a Fistful of Yen in sight, just insufferably lame bits like this: “If you’re not strong enough to kill the bear, use the bear’s strength to kill it,” or “He must find his own way. His heart is full of vengeance,” delivered as though by Horatio Sanz in a Quaalude-fit of somber earnestness. Otherwise, it’s just a series of nonsensical grunts, a moan or two, some grumbles, an occasional rumble, and several variations of “Ouch.” And a lot of yelling. That, and a tacked on love story between Ghost and Starfire (Moon Bloodgood), which is odd because I wasn’t aware that there were too many Korean women who lived back in precolonization America.
It’s fitting, though, that Pathfinder would be released on this, of all weekends, because the whole experience made me want to run home and do my taxes. At least, then, someone would be screaming for a reason.
Pathfinder / Dustin Rowles
Film | April 13, 2007 | Comments ()