With all the delays that The 13th Warrior (aka Eaters of the Dead) went through, it is somewhat disappointing that this film is not better than it is. Nevertheless, while it does have flaws, it also is a fun watch, if not a slightly mindless one.
Antonio Banderas is the lead role of Ibn, an ambassador who has been banished from his homeland for looking at another man's wife (a back story that is never looked in to except for in the first five minutes of the film), and this will definitely not go down as his best role. The acting seems dry, to say the least, and he never really seems to fit with the character. He is also the only familiar actor in the film (Omar Sharif has a small role); the rest are well-suited Scandinavians. Banderas is Spanish, but he plays an Arab, and he is also somewhat of a wuss (but can still fight pretty well). Personally, I think that the fact that this movie is based on a Michael Crichton book (why did they change the name of the movie?) is enough to get it to the mainstream population, not a lead actor who seems out of place.
But actually, Banderas is not that bad; it is the script. His lines seem dull. Also, his words fluctuate between standard American one-liners to a more old-fashioned form that the rest of the cast uses. It almost seems as if different writers did different scenes, because sometimes everyone is speaking entirely like what we do today, and at other times, differently. Furthermore, even though I haven't read the book, I have a feeling that this film was changed enough to cause a name change. Banderas is selected by a wise old cook to be the thirteenth warrior of an army that will go and fight a bunch of strange animal people that eat their dead, and in the process there are a few bloody battles that Banderas does not even have much say in. His character is on the outside the entire time, and it isn't even he who takes on the two major bad guys.
On the good side, The 13th Warrior has a good deal of bloody action, and even more suspense. The "creatures" are truly creepy. They wear bear skins, horns, and have painted skin. Their lair is also a good idea, as seen in the previews. The lair scenes are probably the best in the entire movie.
The portrayal of the "Northlanders" is also good. They are large, have large horses, and heavy swords. They are brutal and also pigs (I'm proud to have them as ancestors).
While I spent a lot more time on the bad side than the good side, The 13th Warrior is a reasonably good film. It is definitely not flawless, but is entertaining nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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