Vikingdom is a Malaysian film about vikings and norse gods, produced by KRU Studios. That company, and Malaysian film in general, doesn’t have a great track record, and you’ll find a whole lot of bellyaching people on the Internet shooting down Vikingdom just because of the connotations of KRU. But in actuality, you could do a whole lot worse than this competently-shot and choreographed film directed by Yusry Halim and starring Dominic Purcell.
That’s not to say that it’s a good movie – far from it, in fact. But it’s important not to fall into hating a film because of previous Malaysian films or because of KRU Studios as production company, because that helps no one. Instead, it’s more interesting to pick out the numerous places Vikingdom simply fails as a film and an idea.
The first problem was casting Dominic Purcell as our hero and main character Eirick. Purcell has little emotional chops, sitting somewhere in the middle of looking angry and happy throughout the entire film. I’d wager if you were to take his facial expressions and mix and match them during different scenes of Vikingdom, you’d find that, no matter the situation, he’d still be giving his stony-faced stare. I think the one striking moment from him was after his character has sex with Brynna (Natassia Malthe); Purcell saunters out of his hut with a gleaming smile that could match the light emanating from Thor’s hammer.
The second problem was even attempting to imitate the stylish fight scenes and CGI-enhanced backgrounds of 300. Those cost money – and for good CGI, more than Vikingdom‘s budget allowed – and so much of the effects in the film look sort of off. It’s not exactly terrible, or at least, not bad enough that everything looks computer generated. But when characters are situated behind green screen backgrounds, there’s definitely noticeable overlap. Now I wouldn’t bring this up as a big flaw within the film if it didn’t affect how the viewer interacted with Vikingdom, but ultimately most of the fight scenes look like they were performed on a soundstage instead of in real environments, and that brings the audience out of the story quite a few times.
The story isn’t so bad, but it is fairly derivative. Thor (Conan Stevens), a pinkish-redheaded god in Vikingdom, wants to call forth the rest of the gods to the human world because he feels sleighted by humanity after they take on a new Christian god, who is known as God. The monotheism has spread throughout the middle lands and now Thor would rather conjure the rest of the gods in a reign of terror than deal with their treachery. So he sets out to gather the three mystical items that will trigger the god-pocalypse.
Eirick, an undead man brought back to life by the cup of Frey (Jesse Moss), is meant to gather one of the items – the horn of Helheim – and blow it in Thor’s face. So Eirick and a band of fighters set out to stop Thor, and that’s pretty much Vikingdom‘s plot in a nutshell.
There are a couple of twists towards the end of the film, but for the most part the story plays out much like you’d expect. There are fights with Thor’s people, Eirick goes to Helheim to get the horn, and he even falls in love. That wouldn’t be so bad, but Vikingdom is stretched to an exorbitant length at nearly two hours long. That means its full of boasting dialogue that actually does little to characterize the people helping Eirick, and even Eirick has little at stake besides being an undead man who has the ability to venture into Helheim.
All of these put together make for a film that’s barely watchable. It’s nowhere near as bad as some of the low-budget films put out these days, but it’s also cheesy in a way only films about vikings can be. Did I mention that the wigs are extraordinarily bad at times?
Thanks to Epic Pictures for review screener.