MRR Review: "Vikingdom 3D"

Photo Credit: Epic Pictures Releasing

MRR Review: "Vikingdom 3D"

Rating: Unrated
Length: 114 minutes
Release Date: October 4, 2013
Directed by: Yusry Abd Halim
Genre: Adventure

"Vikingdom 3D" is high-level silliness from concept to execution. Filmed in English on location in Malaysia, the adventure movie boasts a multicultural cast featuring an Aussie, several Brits, and an Irish man of Chinese heritage. Right from the get go, director Yusry Abd Halim is testing the audience's ability to suspend disbelief, which proves important as the film plays out. "Vikingdom" pieces together Norse mythology, Viking history, and fantastical events in an epic tale that follows forgotten King Eirick (Dominic Purcell, "Equilibrium") on his quest to find ancient artifacts and ultimately defeat Thor (Conan Stevens, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"), the god of war.

In a very real sense, this suspension of disbelief pays off immediately. The film's opening sequence is silly, colorful, and clearly inspired by fantasy video games. The remainder of the film follows suit: with a budget of just $15.6 million, "Vikingdom 3D" opted out of the hardcore special effects so prevalent in modern movies of the same genre and relies instead on limited CGI, frequent humor, and some laughably unrealistic props to craft an engaging, albeit goofy, film.

Outlandish wardrobes and a sweeping score add to the video game feel. The film follows Eirick as he tracks down the mighty hammer Mjolnir, the Helheim Horn, and the necklace of Mary Magdalene. Along the way, he encounters foes, friends, and ominous events. Plus, it's a race against the clock. Eirick must accomplish these goals before the Blood Eclipse. If the Blood Eclipse isn't prevented, the Vikings will never again be able to recover control of their empire.

One trope particularly common to fantasy and adventure stories is that of the chosen one. Whatever calamity has befallen humanity, only one person is capable of preventing or correcting it. This serves the dual purposes of creating a highly obvious and easy-to-appreciate protagonist and presenting the sense of a ticking time clock. In "Vikingdom 3D," Eirick's mission and responsibilities are so important that it's difficult to avoid being swept up in cheering him on.

The cast turns in vivid, enjoyable performances. The script, written by James Coyne ("Vanished"), is effective and humorous—although it's not always intentionally funny. Some scenes and some lines are simply so goofy that it's hard to resist laughing. This is not an altogether bad thing. In fact, it adds great camp value to the movie.

The film is unrated, but it's generally family-friendly fare that the kids may appreciate more than the adults. While it features some graphic violence, it's not far off from typical gaming standards. Very young children might be disturbed, but kids with a penchant for fantasies, action movies, or video games are unlikely to be fazed by the occasional imagery. In fact, kids with those interests are very likely to enjoy "Vikingdom 3D" a great deal. The action-driven but easy-to-follow plot and colorful effects are seemingly designed specifically to attract their attention.

It's only fair to warn audiences that while "Vikingdom 3D" does draw its inspiration from legends and historical accounts, it contains a fair bit of poetic license as well. Eirick, for instance, must at one point rescue a wizard. At another time, he and his motley crew of garishly dressed fighters ward off a zombie army. Of course, this seems fairly natural in context. After all, Eirick himself is undead, having been previously killed in battle and revived just for this mission.

It's difficult to say what would have made "Vikingdom 3D" a better movie. The combination of director, writer, cast, script, and location is so seemingly haphazard that it's fairly astonishing the film exists at all. In that respect, it's admirably executed. Something so preposterous had no business being created in the first place, and its existence can be credited to a team boldly dedicated to taking risks.

On a more realistic note, however, this is a comical, colorful movie that makes very little sense and pales in comparison, visually, to its contemporaries. However, it might be best not to judge them side by side. Instead, delight in the sheer popcorn-munching enjoyability of a movie that isn't afraid to laugh at itself. In doing so, audiences will easily find themselves laughing right along, and that is an achievement worth lauding.

Perspective is everything when watching a movie like this. More comparable to '60s and '70s B-movies than recent releases like "Thor," "Vikingdom 3D" is ripe for the viewing, and a very particular type of viewer is likely to find it wildly entertaining. It's not for everyone, but with the right mindset, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable romp through legend, history, and director Halim's wildest imagination.

Rating: 2 out of 5