Follow TV Tropes


Film / Outlander (2008)

Go To
"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:

  • 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 ultimately abandons his old life as a soldier and stays behind on Earth to make up for his complicity in exterminating the Moorwen.
  • 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...
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Moorwens glow red when about to attack.
  • 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 the typical sci-fi helmet that folds away in the opening scene. It never shows up again.
  • Combat Tentacles: 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 ends up getting abducted by the Moorwen.
  • Death of a Child: The baby Moorwen dies.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Kainan 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Genocide Dilemma: The Moorwen is the sole survivor or so we initially think of a genocide perpetrated by Kainan's people. Kainan in turn is left internally conflicted over having to kill it, as he would essentially be driving its species fully to extinction, only going through with it because the Moorwen doesn't intend to stop with Kainan's own people and is willing to kill the innocent Vikings who got wrapped up in the whole mess.
  • God Guise: At the end of the film, Freya mistakes Kainan for a servant of the Gods.
  • 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.
  • 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 as they're slaughtered for the sake of human colonization. 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: Despite knowing it was wrong, Kainen still went ahead with firebombing the Moorwen's species to near extinction because he was part of the military and had to heed the commands of his superiors.
  • 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.
  • Last of Her Kind: The Moorwen's species was wiped out by Kainan's people when they invaded its planet. It's later revealed that it has offspring.
  • Luring in Prey: The moorwen hides in the darkness of the woods while flourishing the lights on its tail and skin to attract prey.
  • 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: It's revealed that the Moorwen had sired offspring.
  • 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.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Moorwen has been hunting down humanity in retribution for Kainan's people colonizing its home and slaughtering its people.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 is explicitly from an intergalactic military background.
  • 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.
  • Translation Convention: The characters speak primarily in Old Norse but, outside of a segment at the start, the dialogue throughout the film is modern English (or, more generally, the language of the movie's various dubs).
  • Translator Microbes: Kainan's ship's computer downloads the local language into his brain.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Kainan recollection of how his forces drove the Moorwen's species to near extinction is presented to us in this fashion.
  • Unobtainium: The alien metal from the starship's hull is sought after in the latter half of the movie to create a weapon capable of slaying the Moorwen.
  • 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: As Kainan confesses, his people wiped out the Moorwen's species to near extinction when they colonized its planet, and it slaughtered his people in retribution, only going after the Vikings because they also happen to be human. Even though he ultimately still follows through on killing the Moorwen, he feels sympathy for it and understands that it's only lashing out.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Outlander