The 13th Warrior (1999)
The movie is supposedly based upon Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead but to what extent I don’t know having not read it, and after the movie I’d never be interested in reading one sentence. The story goes like this; Antonio is kicked out of his homeland for making googily-eyes at the wrong lady, then picked up by a Norse group of men to stop a band of bear-people from killing a small village. That’s the plot. There it is.
The overblown sword-swinging wannabe epic is nothing more than a series of carnage strung together. The movie is basically one long battle sequence with plenty of heads rolling and blood spilling. I just wish that the battles were lit better so I could see what the hell was going on. There’s so much blood flying that there should be a sign in the theater saying “Warning: The first five rows, you will get wet.” You know you’re in trouble with a Medieval hack-and-slash piece when the most interesting thing during the battles is the pretty scenery. And pretty it is.
Antonio Banderas hones the art of the befuddled stare and surmises it as the only attempt of sensible acting in the movie. Rounding out the rest of the baker’s dozen of warriors are mostly unknown Scandinavian actors that will remain unknown. Banderas tries to keep the audience’s attention but is powerless to stop the inevitable yawns that will come.
The characters are all copies of the same mold and the characterization is thin. The story is so incomprehensible and incoherent that it introduces characters, gives them all promise, then directly forgets they ever existed for the rest of the movie and steers off to the next beheading. The love interest is horribly underused and as such largely made for the purpose of cleaning some nasty cuts and wounds from the big bad boys. The movie is extremely slow paced, sometimes unbearably so. The cliched script as a whole introduces so many other promising directions that do nothing but enrage you with the path the movie does decide to take.
Little more than a testosterone pumped B-movie, The 13th Warrior even fails to excite the average moviegoer with any sense of tension. This movie has been sitting on the shelf of Touchtone for over a year of reshoots, edits, test screenings and such. I wish it had remained on the shelf.
Nate’s Grade: C-