Monday, July 8, 2013

Day One Hundred and Eighty-nine - Erik the Viking, "Myth, Legend, and Farce... all in one."

When your world is nothing but barbarism and the gods have forsaken you, what is left? Do you throw your lot in with entropy and continue in the murderous revelry, or do you search for something else... something to push back at the night?

For Erik the Viking (Tim Robbins) it's all really quite literal.

Fenrir the Wolf has swallowed the sun and all men fight and die in the Age of Ragnarok, but Erik doesn't want to follow in those footsteps. In fact, thanks to a tragic, yet enlightening conversation with an ill-fated peasant, he decides to go on an epic quest to storm Valhalla and wake the gods.

Of course, he takes all the menfolk of his village with him, warriors more used to raping and pillaging than high adventure and diplomacy, but they all make do... or die trying.

Along the way they meet the tone-deaf, but peace-loving people of Hy-Brazil, battle the giant dragon of the North Sea (a humongous anglerfish), repel the villainous Halfdan the Black, and come face to face with Odin and the pantheon of Norse gods.

And Erik finds true love... while trying to save the soul of his first.

Combining the raw satire of Monty Python's Terry Jones with the epic cheese of Corman adventure flicks, Erik the Viking straddles the line between whimsy and melodrama... all while asking some really rather profound questions about humanity, faith, and the myths of our forefathers.

I admit, it's rather difficult to get behind Tim Robbins as a peace-loving viking. He has a kind of "aw shucks" mentality with him throughout the whole film, pretty much. Still, the trials he must overcome are often quite amusing, even if they are utterly ridiculous.

Take, for example, the sea battle with Halfdan, where Erik makes use of his ladylove Aud's invisibility cloak which, unbeknownst to him, only works on her father and Harold the Monk... both men of blind faith. While it works in confusing Halfdan's forces into being routed, it's never really sold by Robbins' delivery.

That's not to say I don't like the sequence... as John Cleese is brilliantly funny as the affable villain, Halfdan, playing a similar role to his take on Robin Hood in Time Bandits, but Erik is definitely the weakest link in the film.

Still, for as much as he... and the overall roughness of the film... brings the production down, it still manages to be redeeming both for its dry humor and for its searching questions concerning love, faith, and existence.

I just wish it didn't feel like an over-long and shoddily shot episode of Hercules or Xena.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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