Outlander - Beowulf meets Alien in a Viking/sci-fi monster mash-up

As if yesterday’s Muppets/Ocean’s 11 mash-up wasn’t goofy enough, we’ve just come across an even loopier fanboy homage - a zanily recast trailer for the new movie Outlander, which comes out in UK cinemas tomorrow.

A shot-by-shot revamp of the movie’s official trailer, the fan version waggishly employs a variety of action figures (from ranges such as He-Man, Thundercats, Star Wars, Ghostbusters and more) to stand in for the movie’s real-life actors.

The spoof is weirdly appropriate, as Outlander is itself a genre-blending mash-up, a far-out fusion of ancient Viking saga and sci-fi adventure: Beowulf meets Alien.

Co-writer/director Howard McCain has re-imagined the origins of the epic Old English poem Beowulf, thrusting an alien astronaut out of Erich von Däniken and a CGI-conjured fantasy beast into the ancient Norse world as a way of explaining the myth of the heroic Beowulf and his battles with the baneful Grendel and Grendel’s even deadlier mother.

Outlander - Jim Caviezel’s extraterrestrial Kainan crash lands in 7th-century Iron Age Norway

So Jim Caviezel plays extraterrestrial warrior Kainan, who crash lands in a Norwegian fjord in the year 709 A.D. Unfortunately, there’s a lethal stowaway aboard his craft: the Moorwen, a vengeful creature whose race has been destroyed by Kainan’s people.

When Kainan gets captured by the local Viking tribe, headed by John Hurt’s Rothgar (another nod to Alien) and his hot-headed nephew Wulfric (Jack Huston), the ‘outlander’ is, of course, the only one around who understands what is causing the mayhem now being wrought by the Moorwen.

Outlander - Jim Caviezel’s extraterrestrial Kainan learns the local Viking language the hard way

Fortunately, Kainan has used his superior technology to download comprehension of the local language into his brain, an icky business that involves poking his lingo-gizmo into his eyeball, which he manages just in time before all the artefacts of his superior technology have sunk in the fjord, got lost or gone kaput.

Speaking the same language as the locals is handy, but it doesn’t help him, initially, convince them of the threat they are facing. Eventually, of course, he proves his worth as a warrior, bonds with Wulfric and cosies up with Rothgar’s daughter Freya (Sophia Myles) before leading the Vikings into a final showdown with the Morwen.

Outlander - Sophia Myles’s Viking princess Freya & Jim Caviezel’s extraterrestrial warrior Kainan

Yes, it’s all bonkers, of course, but not nearly as silly as watching a CGI-buffed Ray Winstone give us a cockney Viking hero in Robert Zemeckis’s motion-capture animated extravaganza Beowulf. And McCain does propel the action along with grim gusto, while Caviezel, Hurt and co manage to keep straight faces – almost as straight, indeed, as the spoof trailer’s plastic toys.

On general release from 24th April

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.