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Stars: James Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, John Hurt, Ron Perlman

Director: Howard McCain

This is a novelty in monster movies: Vikings vs Aliens. But here's the twist: this one's really good - exciting, intelligent and brilliantly designed. I wasn't quite sure what Kainan (Caviezel) was doing in outer space in the first place, but no matter. He and his people have devastated a planet inhabited by morwens - slavering monsters from a galaxy far, far away. But they leave one behind, and their women and children are subsequently slaughtered.

Shooting through space with the morwen on board (didn't quite understand that either), Kainan and his surviving crewman (who's killed on impact) crash-land in Norway in 709 AD.

So far, so dodgy. But the rest of the film is fiercely thrilling. Kainan is captured (much like in Planet of the Apes) and comes to understand that both the tribe that hold him, led by Rothgar (Hurt) and his putative successor, the rather headstrong Wulfric (Huston, grandson of John), and their rivals, headed by Gunnar (Perlman), believe the other is responsible for the devastation of their villages - when in fact the culprit is the morwen.

The subsequent narrative brims with imagination and innovative action, notably a race between Kainan and Wulfric, running along shields held aloft by warriors. And the design of the creature's lair, a fiery underground lake, is a masterpiece of the production designer's art.

Myles is a bit of a weak link as the heroine, Hurt's daughter, but all in all this is glorious action fare for devotees of the genre.

David Quinlan

USA/Canada/UK/Hungary 2008. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
115 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 Apr 2009