[box cover]


Pathfinder (2007) would make a great double bill with Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (2007). Both are about a dusky-skinned, loincloth-clad fellow running around in the woods and killing the evil white men that want to wipe out his people, and both offer a solid menu of slashing, hacking, stabbing, and gouging. Surprisingly, though, it's Apocalypto that wins when it comes to actual story, since Pathfinder doesn't really have one. At the top of the film, it looks like it might actually be about something — a Native American woman spies a white horse and follows it into the woods, where she comes across a broken-down, abandoned Viking vessel filled with dead bodies. She also finds a young boy, still alive, and she brings him back to her tribal village. Some of the elders don't want to take the boy in, what with all the legends about strangers and betrayal, but the council members ultimately decide to keep the kid around. Flash-forward ten years or so, and the boy, christened "Ghost," has turned into super-hunky Karl Urban (Doom, The Bourne Supremacy.) He's a full-fledged member of the tribe, but still a bit of a loner — he likes to go off by himself and practice swinging the broadsword that he held onto as a memento of his Viking childhood. Then a neighboring tribe comes to visit because their leader, the Pathfinder (Russell Means), is looking for a successor, who may or may not be Ghost. Sweetening the deal, it turns out that the Pathfinder's daughter (Moon Bloodgood) is as super-hot as Ghost, albeit in a less Nordic fashion, and Ghost notices. Naturally, the daughter's possessive boyfriend (Jay Tavares) notices Ghost noticing, and he doesn't like it. Then… the Vikings come back! And the film devolves into a lot of running and jumping and setting traps and guys hacking at each other, for what seems like a very, very long time. For a brief moment, it appears that Pathfinder might be intriguing, if only because Clancy Brown plays Gunmar, the gigantic head Viking. But no, he's buried under a whole lot of helmet and fur and mostly just shakes his fist in rage and tells his men to go kill the brown people. Fox's "unrated" DVD version ostensibly returns footage that was excised so that the film could be released with an R-rating, but it's hard to tell if additional bloodshed is an improvement since the picture is so darn boring. There's really little to recommend it other than Urban looking mighty scrumptious in his almost-naked glory, and even that gets old after a while. Fox's DVD offers up a very impressive anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that looks good, with equally good DD 5.1 audio. And it comes packed with extras — a decent commentary track by director Marcus Nispel that focuses on the nuts and bolts of the production; seven featurettes, most around five minutes in length, covering pre-production, art direction, stunts, actor Clancy Brown, and behind-the-scenes footage; seven deleted scenes with commentary by Nispel; a "concept trailer" that Nispel shot in a single day to show to the studio and potential investors; the theatrical trailer; and trailers for other Fox DVD releases. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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