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Film / Outlander

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"In the Year of The Four Kings, a stranger came to us. They say, from a place far beyond the ice. But I truly believe that the gods had sent us Kainan."

Vikings versus aliens. If that doesn't make you want to see this movie, then nothing will.

Outlander is a 2008 indie science fiction film with a B-Movie plot and inexplicable A-List talent: the cast includes Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman and John Hurt, and the crew includes Barrie Osborne, producer of the latter two The Lord of the Rings films. The director, Howard McCain, originally conceived of the story as a sci-fi adaptation of Beowulf, then screenwriter Dirk Blackman reworked it into something that didn't wear its inspiration on its sleeves so. The resulting film could be considered a sci-fi real story behind the legend of Beowulf. It is considered by many to be a Cult Classic.

The film opens with a spacecraft crashing into a lake. The only survivor is the Space Marine Kainan. After learning from his ship's computer that he's in Norway, and getting the local language beamed into his brain, Kainan grabs his gun and sets off. He finds an empty village—burnt to the ground, and all its inhabitants dead or missing. He then gets jumped and knocked unconscious by the Norse warrior Wulfric.


Kainan wakes up, imprisoned in Wulfric's village. When questioned about the destroyed village, Kainan says that he was hunting the creature responsible. Naturally, he isn't believed. That night, Kainan escapes his bonds and attempts to sneak away, but at the same time, a creature attacks the village and kills several of the warriors. The creature escapes, and Kainan is recaptured.

The following day, Kainan is brought before the King, Hrothgar, and questioned again. He explains that the creature from the previous night was a Moorwen. It had stowed away on his ship and caused it to crash—and that if they do not hunt it down, then it will hunt and kill every last one of them...

Has nothing whatsoever to do with Diana Gabaldon's novel series of the same name, or Outland, the 1981 Space Western starring Sean Connery.


Outlander provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The swords forged from the metal of Kainan's ship.
  • Action Girl/Faux Action Girl: We're shown Freya training near the beginning, and she does get to kill one of Gunnar's men and the Moorwen cub, but doesn't do much successful fighting otherwise and pretty much turns into a Damsel in Distress for the last quarter of the film.
  • Alien Blood: Bright green.
  • Alluring Anglerfish: The Moorwen lures in its prey with multiple glowing spots and stripes on its skin and tail.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Indicated to be the case with Kainan's people, as humans on Earth were a "seed colony" of their species.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Kainan's computer describes Earth as an "abandoned seed colony." It is generally accepted that humans evolved on Earth.
  • Artistic License – Geology: The last part of the movie takes place in lava-filled tunnels. The Fennoscandian Shield which makes up Norway's land mass is one of the most tectonically stable areas in the world, and has had no volcanic activity for hundreds of millions of years.
  • The Atoner: Kainan.
  • Bare Your Midriff: When we first see Freya, she is wearing a leather crop-top, and a fur miniskirt. She wears a dress for the rest of the film.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Except when they have something much worse to deal with. Whilst hunting for the Moorwen in a cave, a bear attacks Hrothgar and his men, which is killed by Kainan. Due to not entirely believing his story about the Moorwen, thinking the bear was responsible for the people it killed, they celebrate and believe the danger has passed. They later see that they were very, very wrong when they witness the Moorwen slaughtering Gunnar's men.
    Boromir: Now that was not a bear...
  • Bilingual Bonus: The "alien" language Kainan speaks at the very beginning of the film is Old Norse. And then the "Old Norse" dialogue throughout the rest of the film is modern English. Er, what?
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Moorwens glow red when about to attack.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Boromir!
  • Chekhov's Skill: Shield dancing.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Freya.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Freya mistook Kainan for a servant of the Gods at the end of the film.
  • Cleavage Window: Freya's clothing when she is introduced inexplicably features a spacious gap that shows off a good deal of her beautiful breasts.
  • Collapsible Helmet: Kainan wears one in the opening scene. It never shows up again.
  • Combat Tentacles / Whip It Good: The Moorwen's tail is deadly, whether it's used for slicing, impaling, or grabbing.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Vikings (one of whom is a former Space Marine) versus an alien monster.
  • Damsel in Distress: Freya after she is abducted by the Moorwen.
  • Death of a Child: The baby Moorwen dies.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Kainin has a pretty cool Ray Gun at the beginning of the film, which presumably would have made killing the Moorwen much easier. So, in the scene where Wulfric first attacks Kainin, the gun falls into a river and is never seen again.
  • Dies Wide Open: Wulfric, at the end of the film. Kainan does the required palm-over-face eye-closing.
  • Enemy Mine: The threat of the Moorwen forces Hrothgar's and Gunnar's clans to work together.
  • Exposition Beam: Kainan's computer beams the Norse language into his brain through his eyeball. It's quite unpleasant, but then it also serves as one of the Mythical Motifs from the Edda which tells of how Odin sacrificed a single eye to gain divine knowledge.
  • Fiery Redhead: Freya. Despite becoming a Damsel in Distress halfway through the film, she is outspoken, rebellious against her father's choice of groom, and can wield a sword well enough to kill a warrior.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Kainan and Wulfric, over the course of the film. To a lesser extent, Kainan's relationship with Freya could be considered a romantic version of this trope.
  • From a Certain Point of View: The Norsemen never suspect Kainan's true origins, because he uses terms and metaphors they would understand to explain his history and that of the Moorwen's. For example, he claims to be from an island far to the north, which is a clever way of saying he's from another planet, and technically true under the archaic convention of using north and south as metaphors for up and down.
  • Going Native: At the end, Kainan chooses to remain on Earth and becomes king, despite the clan barely knowing him.
  • Heroic BSoD: "There are no gods. There is no destiny. There is just me."
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Freya's greeting to Kainan after his first escape attempt in which he knocked her unconscious.
  • Hot-Blooded: Wulfric.
  • Humanity Came From Space: It's stated that Earth was colonized by Kainan's people and then abandoned.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Tell me you didn't feel sorry for the Moorwen's species during Kainen's flashback. Kainan also seems to come to this conclusion by the end, realizing that the Moorwens were always more than just mindless monsters, and that his people are the type to explore and take what they want, so he destroys his emergency beacon at the last minute, sending the incoming ship away, and staying behind with the viking people.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end, a rescue ship arrives for Kainan, but he destroys his distress beacon, and the presumably automated ship leaves.
  • It Can Think: The Moorwen is shown to possess levels of intelligence and even raw emotion at times. It recognises Kainen when he calls its name in their first encounter on Earth and singles him out during the attack on the village. There's even a subtle implication that it went after Kainen's family specifically because he was the commander of the forces that wiped out its species.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wulfric warms up to Kainen pretty quickly once he proves his worth.
  • Just Following Orders
  • Karma Houdini: Kainan is complicit in a planet's destruction and a species's near-total genocide... and he ends up saving the day, gets the girl, and becomes a King. However he is incredibly remorseful for the whole mess and abandons his old life. There is a moment before Kainan finally kills the Moorwen when he and the creature make eye contact, perhaps acknowledging this.
  • Kill It with Fire: Kainan's people drove the Moorwens to the brink of extinction by firebombing their homeworld. Kainan reuses this tactic with whale oil. It doesn't work.
  • The Lancer: Wulfric.
  • Last of Her Kind: The Moorwen and its offspring.
  • Made of Explodium: Kainan's console at the end of the movie.
  • Mama Bear: Needless to say, after already having the rest of its kind wiped out, the Moorwen was very pissed off over the death of its one and only offspring.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The Moorwen.
  • Oh, Crap!: Let's throw this torch into the darkness so we can get a better look.
  • Pet the Dog: Kainan befriending the orphan.
  • Precision F-Strike: Kainan's first words after learning Norse.
  • Prehensile Tail: The Moorwen is a giant, lizardish thing, but its prehensile tail can be used to grasp, slice, or impale its victims.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Kainan has one as a side-effect of downloading Norse language skills into his brain.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Hrothgar, in contrast to the hotheaded Wulfric.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Moorwen's.
  • Samaritan Relationship Starter: Kainan saving Hrothgar's life in the fight with the bear causes Freya to reconsider her opinion of him.
  • Screaming Woman: After Freya is kidnapped, she spends much of her time screaming. To be fair, she wakes up in a huge pile of corpses in various stages of decomposition.
    • To be even more fair, that's pretty much all the guy did when the same thing happened to him as well, he just died faster.
  • Screw Destiny: Freya's reply to Kainan's Heroic BSoD: "If you truly believe that you write the tale of your life, then the end is up to you." Interestingly, as the page quote indicates, Freya doesn't necessarily believe in Screw Destiny herself but it's what Kainan needs to hear.
  • Shout-Out: A viking named Boromir. The design of Heorot is obviously informed by the books and their film adaptations as well, which where informed by Anglo-saxon and Scandinavian lore, so it appropriate.
  • Shown Their Work: The Norweigan village is a pretty accurate depiction of a vendel age town. Althrough Heorot looks more like a stave church, it's still informed by the design of pre-christian Scandinavia.
    • They also bothered to use accurate jargon for different peoples, like Rus and Franks, rather than simply calling everyone "viking". They use the word more like antithesis of a christian.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Freya and Kainan.
  • Space Is an Ocean: So much that Kainan is barely lying when he tells everyone how he’s from an “island” in the “north” and his ship crashed.
  • Space Marine: Kainan.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: A rare non-meteoric example. Kainan salvages scraps of metal from his crashed spaceship for the Viking blacksmith to forge into a Cool Sword after iron weapons prove ineffective.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Really, if the Moorwen are so dangerous that even one of them could wipe out an entire heavily-fortified compound and cause further havoc after coming to Earth, wouldn't it have been better for everyone if they just left the damn things on their planet intact? Or conversely, if you're going to wipe them out, make sure you get all of them.
  • Translator Microbes: Kainan's ship's computer downloads the local language into his brain.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback
  • Unobtainium: Metal from the starship's hull.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Moorwen, having her planet ravaged, her species exterminated and her family slaughtered (twice)... for being not human, and she can't get her revenge.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The Moorwen's offspring is just a cub, but it is blinded and beheaded anyway.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Moorwen. Even Kainan feels sympathy for it.
  • Would Hit a Girl: During his escape Kainan knocks Freya unconscious.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: A Christian priest believes the Moorwen is a demon and tries to exorcise it. He is predictably killed.