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A Viking orphan is raised by American Indians in Newfoundland, circa 1000AD, only to be confronted with the mother of all identity crises when the warlike Norsemen return years later, and set about raping and pillaging their way through the villages of his adoptive nation. Which call is he going to obey – blood or upbringing? Offering the viewer the supposed delights of the clash of two of the world’s ur-peoples – the Viking and the Native American – Marcus Nispel’s follow-up to his fairly pointless remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre proves he’s still more at home with pop promos for Janet Jackson and Billy Joel than as a big screen director.

To be slightly fair to Nispel, the dead hand of the studio is all over Pathfinder, which was delayed again and again as bits were hacked off it until preview audiences lost the will to bitch. Whether it started out as a protracted chase back and forth – Conan goes Commando – I don’t know, but that’s the way it has ended up. Karl Urban plays Nispel’s hero Ghost – I say Nispel’s hero but this is in fact a remake of Nils Gaup’s better Norwegian original from 1987, Ofelas. No, Urban isn’t bad as Ghost, he’s chunky at least, substantial. But Nispel hobbles his potentially buff lead – hair and make-up inspired by Viggo Mortensen in Lord Of The Rings – with a production design based on the colour of mud, a visual cue which the drama obediently follows.

Pathfinder – at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2007

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