6 out of 10
Norse Epic of an Exiled Poet
Set in Iraq, Russia and Scandinavia, "The 13th Warrior" is a fabulous dreamlike adventure following the life of an exiled poet, Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan Ibn Al Abbas Ibn Rashid Ibn Hamad. Similar to "Lord of the Rings," the story starts in Baghdad and follows a band of Nordic warriors called upon to defend allied kingdoms from attack by otherworldly forces. Visiting merely as an ambassador, Hamad unwittingly finds himself joining as the 13th Warrior, being the only man present "from a distant land."
Antonio Banderas gives a wonderful performance in the title role, using subtle humour and charm, he fits the part well. Supported by veteran actors Omar Sherif, Tony Curran, Richard Bremmer and many little-known players, the performances are largely impressive, even and true-to-life throughout.
Similar to other historical films, such as the Last of the Mohicans and Dances with Wolves, the settings and cinematography are spectacular. The dialogue is also fascinating with lines appearing in languages ranging from Latin to Middle Eastern and Norse dialects, further setting the historical tone.
Although largely well depicting the lives of the Norsemen and their quest, the final scenes and characters of the marauders which they sought could have been further explored to give more depth and balance. Still highly compelling and with rarely a dull moment, the movie, based on the book "Eaters of the Dead" by Jurassic Park author Michael Creighton, is well researched and works as both an exciting adventure story and a visually magnificent portrait of medieval life in dark ages with a wonderful mix of cultures and a not often seen view of Nordic life.
Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies