I’m back with part two of my ultimate review of all things Karl Urban. Did you read part 1? Well, review it if you didn’t because I’m about to dig into three more projects.
Westerns are not my normal thing. I can think of very few that I would watch again… they just don’t do it for me. That being said… oh lord this was hard for me to watch. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never read the books or seen the series or other miniseries, but I had a hard time following this at first. What I got was- there’s a band of Texas Rangers, and tribes of Comanche, and they are at war. Our hero, or at least for the purposes of this series of posts, is a member of the Rangers… and apparently, he’s been carrying on an affair with the town harlot (though I think she is semi-retired as she seems to only be seeing him).
Things I enjoyed- the relationship between Urban’s “Woodrow Call” and Steve Zahn’s “Gus McCrae”. There’s just something about two characters who banter banter banter. Val Kilmer’s “Inish Scull” because he is a little off kilter. Probably the most fun I’ve had watching Kilmer in a decade or so. Also, Call’s reaction to “Maggie” being pregnant. Though his stick in the mud attitude regarding marriage is annoying and I wish to smack him.
Part two of the miniseries was much more fun and I became quickly invested. It started off with action and kept the adrenaline of the story running throughout this act. The only thing that set me off was the attacking giant parrot. Seriously? Crazy Scull is fun, too. The end of part two, however, made me want to smack someone. ‘Nough said.
Part three opens with our story jumping seven years into the future. Our hero failed to make Maggie an honest woman. Boo hiss. Scull is still crazy but in that uber fun eccentric way (and having moved to the North). More character development happened in the third act, proving that if you could survive the slow pace of the initial piece, the miniseries is worth watching. Even if you know nothing about anything- like me. Also, the ladies- Maggie, “Clara”, and even “Inez” are quite fun throughout all three acts. Even when pining for their men (or being annoying- Inez is a slutty slutty whore), as women are meant to at this time, they are fun to watch.
Oh- when Gus and another Ranger turn on Call in regards to how he’s been acting towards Maggie… brilliant. That man needs a good smacking.
Urban does a great job playing a man who just doesn’t understand. He understands fighting. He understands horses. He understands taking orders. But if you put a woman in front of him- he’s baffled. It’s kind of fun to watch. When I don’t want to smack him.
I was not invested in most of the Comanche aspects of the story. They seemed to slow the series down. I’m not sure why that is though- I found aspects interesting, but overall- if you took them out and made two complete movies, I would watch the Rangers story. I became much more invested in their storylines.
And do not get me started on how the whole thing ends! Grumble grrrr grumble rumble grrrrrrr!
Bear with me. I feel about this film like I did about the Russell Crowe Robin Hood- if they hadn’t tried to make it something it wasn’t, it would’ve been fine. In this case, the filmmakers tried to say that this was the story, based on a myth, of a Norse child raised by Native Americans, who then stops the Norse immigration to the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus landed on our shores. If they had just held that this is a fantasy or not named them the Norse or implied they were Vikings, it’d be fine. But once they said that, suddenly they have to be graded for accuracy. And accurate this film is not. Personally, I don’t care. I want to see a story, I want to see fights, I want to see a fun adventure! And for the most part, you get that. But… because of those previously mentioned claims… audiences can’t get passed the inaccuracies and allow for a fun romp.
I remember when this one came out. I was interested because it was actiony, but I was a broke grad student and none of my friends lived nearby. I hate going to the movies alone. So I missed it. Having watched it recently, I think I would’ve enjoyed it on the big screen but it was fine. It was a nice break from reality and a perfectly lovely adventure. Bonus fun- Clancy Brown as the villain.
Again, the plot is simple- Native American woman stumbles on crashed Viking ship and inside finds a small boy. Turns out, his people left him behind because he refused to kill. So she takes him and raises him as her own. He becomes a part of the tribe, but not fully accepted as a “brave” because he is still holding onto the “demons” of his past. OK, I get that. Fast forward… the Vikings return to conquer the lands. Well, this doesn’t sit well with our hero (especially since- SPOILER they killed his family/tribe) and he goes to fight and destroy them, seeking revenge. Blah blah blah, you can probably figure out the rest, but essentially the good guys win. My one issue with the ending is that it isn’t clear- does he become part of the new tribe? Or does he wander the woods like a rogue protector or something?
This was the first of the films/TV shows I watched during my Urban marathon where Karl was the lead (by the way, I’m not posting these in any order). In everything else he was either second fiddle or a character role (like on Xena). I’m not complaining- for the most part, I enjoyed those roles/projects, but it was nice to see a project that fully rested on Urban’s shoulders and to see him be able to carry it. I enjoyed him as the lead. “Ghost” was pouty (when told he wasn’t able to participate in something because he wasn’t a full “brave”), angry, happy, passionate, serious and not- the gamut of emotions a person might have in the situations he was placed in. He lusted after a beautiful girl, but turned around and played with his younger “sister” a beat later. He joked with this buddies and then turned around to fight the enemy. I liked that. And again, I think this really could’ve been a decent movie (as far as how it was received) if the filmmakers hadn’t tried to make it something too great/gone too far with it. If they’d just said that they wanted to make a action flick with primitives versus a more advanced civilization (but not uber space fairing advanced), then it would’ve been fine. Urban carried the film very well on his ruggedly handsome and strong shoulders.
I’m pretty good at ignoring stuff so I enjoyed the movie. And that was only semi influenced by Urban running around in a loin cloth and not much else for most of it.
When I caught the Almost Human pilot I tweeted that it was like “Dr. McCoy” switched careers and became a cop; which I was totally OK with. Stewart responded that he would like to see the character Urban plays channel “Dredd”. Well, I had no opinion at the time as I hadn’t seen Dredd yet. I have now. I’d like a mix of McCoy and Dredd.
Dredd follows the comic of the same name- one I have not read. Dredd is a cop in a future where crime is rampant and civilization is crazed. Huge towers are built that are called “blocks”; they stretch hundreds of stories tall and contain a few thousand families, as well as businesses. Judges have the job of maintaining order in the cities- they have the power to police crime, judge offenders, and execute punishments. Dredd is a straight laced officer who is given a rookie partner to evaluate on her first day; he uses every situation as a training exercise (which is kind of fun, actually). The partner, “Henderson”, is not fully outfitted (no helmet) as she has psychic abilities and complains the helmet blocks them. As it happens, the first call they respond to turns into an all day battle for their lives. So many people die; there really should be a counter in the bottom corner tally the deaths. There’s a subplot of drug trafficking/manufacture, but that’s not important to this post.
While I liked the film, overall, the character of Dredd was the hardest of Urban’s roles for me to connect to. This is probably something related to the character in the comics- he’s a stick up his ass cop, who does not allow emotional connection, and does a kick ass job. He never removes his helmet- the audience (and other characters) never see more of his face than his mouth/chin. And honestly, he looks perpetually grumpy. I want to give him a kitten or something. But, once you (as an audience member) accept that we aren’t likely to build an emotional connection with the character, and just accept the film for the violent and destructive romp that it is… it’s fun. Not for everyone, mind… but I know some friends who would enjoy it. And I hear there’s a sequel in the works.
I will say this- there are some truly disturbing visuals regarding some characters deaths. Just… wow.
We’re not done… I reckon there are three more of these review posts! Coming soon!