Category Archives: adventure

The Vikings – Richard Fleischer (1958)

IMDb.com

I am not sure how this film entered my watch-list. It is an ancient Viking film. The story reminds a bit about the contemporary series. The Vikings go to Britain, bring back an Englishman, find a way to navigate (here “through the fog” and with another device than in the series) and ravage Britain.

As you can expect from such an old film, the acting is not great, the music is classical and the stages and effects are poor to our current ‘standards’. In spite of that the film is still somewhat enjoyable.

The Vikings are much more than nowadays portrayed as drunk barbarians who have some weird practices. Some obligatory romance and drama is added.

Not a film to put high on your list, but amusing to watch some time.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Ron Howard

Ah yes, a Star Wars spin-offs to keep the money flow going. As the title suggests, this film zooms in to the character of Han Solo. We learn how he got out of slavery, how he got his name, how he met Chewie and how he got his ship.

Of course that is but a hook to hang on a space adventure including a wonderful Woody Harrelson as space renegade and Emilia Clarke gets to show that she can play more parts than Daenerys Targaryen. The story is told without most of the known Star Wars characters or even being part of the ‘bigger story’.
Actually, the title may suggest that the viewer gets to know Han Solo, but some light is only shed on a small part of his life.

Still, the film is enjoyable. There is no need to watch it on the big screen, but I suppose people who like Star Wars will enjoy this little spin-off.

Hero – Yimou Zhang (2002)

An epic, Chinese martial arts spectacle. The film does not really look as if it was adopted for a Western audience. There are many dialogues and some silly aspects in the fighting scenes. I guess that makes the film a little more interesting though.

The film is based on a legend in which some people want a king dead and we follow one such person. After ten years of practice, he became the best fighter and has built an elaborate plan to murder the king. We find him explaining his plan to the king and with flashbacks we get the story, or actually stories, since as the king understands that what is presented are not facts, the story changes.

The viewer is presented with massive fighting scenes and of course a lot of one-on-one sword fights with flying people and strange weapons. The film has some cultural and somewhat spiritual elements as well.

Le Pacte Des Loups * Christophe Gans (2001)

Vincent Cassel with a wig and Monica Belluci as a high-class prostitude. Little can go wrong with that, right?

“The Brotherhood of the Wolf” is placed in Renaissance France where an area is haunted by a man-killing beast. An adventurer with his Amerindian bloodbrother go to the area to help the people. They mix in the upper class of the area, but have little luck in finding the vicious beast. Until the end of course.

This was only Gans’ second film, so I wonder how he managed to get Belluci for the part. She is perfect for it though. It is not like this, or Gans’ other films, is a big production. The setting (a historical adventure) is a bit dated, the genre used to be more popular; but also he put in unlikely elements such as the Eastern martial arts Indian.

All in all the film may not be great, but it is a nice film to watch when you feel like seeing something different.

Vikings (series, season 2) * Michael Hirst (2014)

Season 1 did not really convince me, but a year and a half after I saw it, I still got myself season 2.

Well, season 2 is not really much better than I remember number 1, but I would not rate it 1,5 stars. Season 2 is more historical and less based on myths and sagas. It mostly tells the story of Lothbrok raising in power, travelling to England and making friends and enemies. Story-wise season 2 is more of a soap opera with more focus on the relations between people.

I still cannot say that I really like the series. I still might some day watch the third series, but they did not come high up my list after watching the first two.

El Abrazo De La Serpiente * Ciro Guerra (2015)

I found this film because it features the Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet. I have seen Bijvoet in a few smaller and weird parts, but in this film he is one of the main characters.

“Embrace of the serpent” actually tells two stories. Bijvoet plays the scholar Theo who spends much of his life in the Amazon rainforests to investigate the people who live their and the things that grow there. During his travels he built good bonds with some locals. When he gets sick he is escorted to “the wandering shaman” who takes him to the mountains where the Gods reside in order to find a special plant to cure Theo.

The other story plays many years later. Evan follows Theo’s tracks to look for the same cure. He travels with the same shaman.

In both stories there are an open-minded Westerner who travels with a native and an ‘in between’ (a native who has lived most of his life with Westerner). Of course cultures clash, but all parties learn from each other.

The story may not be very original, but it is based on true events, so nothing can be said about that. The time of adventure films in exotic cultures is mostly something of a decade or two ago, but Guerra managed to make a descent contemporary one.

Alice Through The Looking Glass * James Bobin (2016)

Johnny Depp returns to Alice’s wonderland. This film is an obvious sequel to Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” from 2010. The actors are largely the same as are the way things look. Story-wise Bobin’s film is a bit of a prequel explaining the youth of the hatter and the reason for the Red Queen’s head-size.

“Alice Through The Looking Glass” is amusing, but never reaches the level of Burton’s film. It has the usual Disney mix of children’s and adult’s humor, adventure and weird characters (such as Sacha -Borat- Cohen as Time).

An amusing watch, but not a must-see.

Mutant Chronicles * Simon Hunter (2008)

Man man, what a weak film. I think I found this title because Ron Perlman is in it (and John Malkovich). “Mutant Chronicles” is a sci-fi action spectacle with a far too elaborate story.

It starts in the past with Druids or so who guard a secret. Then we jump to 2707 with a war that looks very much like WWII. A few characters are introduced and also the problem they are going to face. Some zombie-producing 10.000 year old machine that was buried beneath the earth until the mentioned war. This part of the film looks a bit like the story of a massive book had to be compressed into a 15 minute introduction. Then the pace drops extremely when we start to follow a group of people setting out to destroy the machine. Ron Perl is brother Samuel who has a book, a “chronicle”, fortelling events and he believes it also tells him how he can make an end to things. The group travels through tunnels and abandonned cities perpertually chased by armies of zombies with swords-for-arms.

The film is unconvincing, not exciting, not really tense and the bloody action looks corny. Besides a few fair jokes and ideas (a steam-engine space ship for one), “Mutant Chronicles” is rather awfull. The balance makes is just quite weak.

The Maze Runner * Wes Ball (2014)

I had to pick something from the ‘on demand’ menu and “The Maze Runner” has a 6.9 on IMDb, so…

So I really wonder where that rating comes from! The film is a teen-thing, so perhaps teens find this film worth the watch. I did not really.

Thomas finds himself being transported to a strange, walled environment where he meets boys of his age who are trapped in the same situation. Thomas learns that they are stuck in the middle of a gigantic maze, the doors to which open in the morning and at night. “Runners” explore the maze which is -of course- full of terror.

Characters reminding of some from “The Matrix”, a story like that of “The Cube”, teenage actors and situations. Nope, the film never really reaches any peaks and remains a 13-in-a-dozen scifi’ish action thriller that may be not boring, but it certainly is not any good either.

Vikings (series, season 1) * Michael Hirst (2013)

When I heard about these series, I figured it would just be another popularised spectacle about raiding Vikings which of course makes nice battle scene for people who like mindless action. Then I started to hear good things about these series, also from contemporary heathens (often Viking lovers). In the end I bought the first season ouf of curiosity.

Things do not start all that bad. Main character Ragnar Lothbrok got a way (from his patron Odin) to navigate while at sea and he tries to persuade his earl to allow him to sail West, rather than the Baltic lands that the Vikings plunder every season. Ragnar is turned down, yet he sets sail with a group of fellow rebels, lands on Holy Island and plunder the Lindisfarne monestary (had not the Vikings in reality already been there as traders?). Ragnar returns with bounty, but his earl is not amused. A struggle arises and the Vikings prove to be quite like ourselves with wrath, plots and disgrace. Where is the honour of these Vikings? The series mostly portrays the Vikings in the typical way of greedy barbarians. Quite annoying.

On his first raid, Ragnar returns with the monk Athelstan who stays with him as slave, but actually more as an equal. This part of the story reminds of the accounts of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. There are other famous elements, such as the account of Adam of Bremen with the nine-yearly offers at the temple of Uppsala (Uppsala looks nothing like how Uppsala looks today, the landscape is completely different). Myths are interwoven, sometimes as silly as a scene in which a man accuses his wife of adultery, but the pregnancy is actually called by a man named Rig (from the story of how Rig created the three ranks). Everything is mashed together into a story that supposedly has to look interesting, but I find it all rather silly. The series are -to me- nothing more than an adventure around a bunch of barbarian Vikings and -as far as I can judge- can hardly be seen as a history lesson. Still, the series are produced by the History Channel.

Not my thing I guess, like most of the popular series… I doubt I will ever see season 2 or 3.