Just my luck, a Viking movie to review and fresh out of Spam. Bloody Vikings.
And while I’ll watch most anything with Vikings in it, “Viking Destiny” gives that brand loyalty a pretty severe test. A flagon of mead could help, even if Python’s Spam theory proves insupportable.
It’s a cut-rate “Excalibur” with the Norse God Odin and trickster Loki dueling for the consciences of assorted Vikings, who were not known to have consciences.
A Viking King (Andrew Whipp) is summoned to battle as his queen struggles with childbirth. “Go,” do the battle thing, save the Kingdom of Volsung.
But, as Odin (the great Terrence Stamp) narrates, it is “a curse for a child to be born with an absent father.” The Queen (Victoria Broom) dies in childbirth, and the king, even though he’s victorious, grieves and gives up his daughter, an unacceptable heir, to his treacherous half-brother (Timo Nieminen).
“Half Prince” Bard is “planting a seed that will take 20 years and one to bear fruit,” Odin intones. Odin tends to do that.
Odin shows up, now and then, to advise the girl who grows up to be Helle (Anna Demetriou), a fiery redhead trained in the martial arts, just like Merida, the princess of “Brave.”
But fair is fair, so Loki (Murray McArthur), his eyes and forehead covered in black, hisses evil ideas into Half Prince Bard’s ear.
Sure enough, Helle turns 21 and the treachery begins. Lured into a cave to kill the Kraken (“It’s not real,” she says, citing the scientific method), surviving assassination attempts, fleeing across the seas in (mostly digital) long ships.
She stumbles into Paul Freeman (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) who leads a “Traveler” tribe of vegetarian hippies.
“Would you care to join us for turnips? Do not worry. We will not be eating the turnips.”
A drinking joke? This MUST be Ireland.
Odin sidles up and offers pep talks and the odd profundity.
“Rain does not fall on one roof alone…No matter how dark the forest, there is always a path through it.”
If this reads as if I’m not taking “Viking Destiny” seriously, it’s because I’m not.
Screen newcomer Demetriou is a striking presence in metallic red hair and leather, and she and her stunt team (not always obvious) handle fight choreography, including epic brawls with twin giants (Martyn Ford), well enoughl.
The Northern Irish locations are as lovely as they were when “Excalibur” and assorted other Viking and Dark Ages tales (“The Last Kingdom”) were filmed there.
The movie needed more out of its Loki, and as nasty as as Timo Nieminen makes Bard (murdering sex partners in mid-coitus), he’s a tad bland, too.
Stamp gives Odin an aged twinkle.
And writer-director David L.G. Hughes (“Hard Boiled Sweets”) may not be at home in the genre, but the dialogue has a chuckle or two.
“Of course we don’t eat our horses. What kind of monsters do you take us for? We will eat your women.”
“Shouldn’t you be off raping and pillaging?”
“There is no greater mirror than a true friend!”
“Sleep is the cousin of death.”
“Goodbye my brother. Onwards, to Valhalla!”
In the end, “Viking” finds its destiny to be kind of a half-finished, half-financed and half-hearted Viking saga, with only the arrival of the Irish vegetarian hippies led by Indiana Jones’ nemesis, Belloq, to delight us.
Not robust and realistic, not silly enough to include Spam, it finds its own Valhalla to be more like Perdition — a mediocre middle ground it’s stuck in for all eternity.
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, and some sexuality/nudity
Credits: Written and directed David L.G. Hughes. A Saban release.
Running time: 1:31