Ahmad Ibn Fadlan is an ambassador from Baghdad who gets caught up in a Viking quest to defend a town under attack from mysterious monsters. Can he stop the monsters (and get (with) the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The 13th Warrior.
How?! Ahmad Ibn Fadlan is a totally rad emissary for Baghdad, exiled because he was just too sexy and the ladies loved cool Ahmad. On his journey as an ambassador he meets up with a bunch of even radder Vikings who are informed that they must help a king whose lands are being attacked by mysterious monsters. They are also told that a stranger, a thirteenth warrior, must join their group if they hope to succeed. Obviously Ahmad is chosen because he’s rad and ladies love him. They go to the Viking manor and find evidence that the rumors are true and the town is being attacked by a mysterious force that eats their victims. They prepare for battle, but after a brief skirmish they realize they’ll have to do more to survive and they start to put up barricades. Meanwhile the ladies still love cool Ahmad. After a large nighttime battle with the monstrous force they again realize that they’ll have to do better to survive as their group is dwindling (the ladies still love Ahmad to this point). They go to an oracle and are told to take out the enemy Queen in her lair and kill their leader who possesses the Horns of Power. They proceed to go there and do so, but the leader of the Vikings is poisoned. In his dying effort he is able to defeat the final forces and crush that dude and his Horns of Power. Everyone is sad but also happy and Ahmad forgets about the ladies that loved him and heads back home. This may in fact be my worst ever synopsis. I have only the movie to blame. THE END.
Why?! Ahmad really just gets caught up in all of this, but eventually you get the sense that he kind of digs the Viking lifestyle of fighting and drinking and, pardon my French, making sweet, sweet love to Viking queens. He always like “No, I can’t do that for God or whatever,” but then he does… because he’s a Viking at heart.
What?! Before each battle Ahmad slams a couple Coors Lights and when the Vikings asks how that’s OK with his religion he exclaims “It is mere water to quench my thirst.” Seriously though I thought this section would be trouble until a prophecy at the end reveals that in order to conquer the bad guys they must defeat the leader who wears the Horns of Power. While perhaps not a MacGuffin in the truest sense of the word, it is definitely awesome in every other sense of the word.
Who?! There are two interesting credits here. The first is Dr. Leroy Perry, a sports chiropractor who got a special thanks on the film. He is apparently a big deal LA chiropractor and likely entered this production after Banderas sustained a back injury early in filming. For a while there he was part of a number of films, but IMDb doesn’t have any credits after this one. The second is that Michael Crichton ended up doing uncredited reshoots on the film and is listed as an director on IMDb. This is the reason that the film was not released for over a year after filming as Crichton had final cut rights and didn’t like McTiernan’s version (which also tested poorly). So he did his own reshoots and that’s what we ended up seeing. This also may explain why the film is so close to the book (which is nearly unfilmable) as it appears that Crichton had a lot of control on production.
Where?! The whole setting can only really be gleaned from the book/historical person that the story fictionalizes. So we can presume this takes place in modern day Russia… but it’s kinda lame. D
When?! One can assume that this takes place in the 10th century because Banderas’ character is based on a real person who wrote about the culture of Vikings in his travels. The whole story was concocted as a reimagining of the Beowulf mythos as a twisting of the true tale of a Viking battle. But of course no one in the film is like “Yo, it’s the 10th century, bro. Viking time.” D
This film is really interesting… but no matter how much I wanted to say that it was underrated and actually good I couldn’t make myself do it. Why? Because it’s kinda boring and they botched the big action pieces that could have taken it to another level. I actually listened to the audiobook for the novel that this was based on and it is shockingly similar. That would be fine except that as I listened to it the only thing I could think was “This could be a really great film as long as they made major changes and really amped up the action scenes.” Guess what? They didn’t. And in the end it pretty much matched the book. Interesting as a concept, but boring as a film. Matched with it was Edison Force starring our boys LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake. JT in particular gives the worst performance I’ve actually seen put to film and the entire film seems like a less successful 88 Minutes or Righteous Kill (if that can be believed). It is a terrible film and also kinda funny to watch at times if only for JT embarrassing himself. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! You ever just want to go on a relaxing holiday up north, a little sauna, a few laughs, but then get hooked into a battle against some cannibals with magic horns of power?! Me neither, but Ahmad Ibn Fadlan did, let’s go!
The Good – Let’s get this out of the way: I dug this movie. And not in an ironic way. If this was cleaned up a bit and was made in like 1980 I think it might have been kind of good in the Conan the Barbarian kind of way. But it was instead made in 1999, and is not cleanly made. So it is merely a somewhat tolerable film in the medieval genre, that is really the best you can say about it. Beautiful though.
Ps View on the Preview – The director of this film is actually really interesting. Made Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for the Red October back-to-back-to-back. He was a true legend, someone that is still mentioned as “hey, maybe he could still make something great if given the chance.” But he perjured himself to the FBI and went to prison and now no one seems to want to touch him with a ten foot pole. And by all accounts this film was a complete mess with audiences and cut / shot to shit by Michael Crichton. It is bananas, and the only reason this is even on BMT’s radar.
The Bad – And it is cut to shit. The movie is at turns kind of boring and extremely confusing. It is beautiful, but that only really gets you so far. It helped immensely that I brushed up on my Beowulf so I could pick up what they were … just kind of throwing willy nilly at the screen. I also had to watch the film in pieces. It really doesn’t grab you. And this is coming from a person who said he dug the film. Yikes.
Get Yo Rant On! – It is tough to think on something to rant about here … how about the gall of Michael Crichton to think he could make Beowulf interesting (his words not mine, that is literally why he wrote the book, as a kind of dare to make the story interesting to modern audiences). I can’t speak to whether the book was successful … but the movie is pretty boring, so probably not very successful there. I still bet you could make the story interesting though … like set it on an alien planet and make Grendal an actual alien monster or something? I’ll take my payment for this idea in Bitcoin, thanks.
The BMT – Naw, this isn’t a BMT film at all … but I could probably watch it again. For the vistas! I love vistas and this movie has them in spades. But it is nowhere near as bad as a BMT film should be. It is one of the better actual films we’ve seen for BMT in the last year easily … which I guess is terrible?
Welcome to Earf – Antonio Banderas is in The 13th Warrior and Expendables 3 with Sylvester Stallone who was in The Zookeeper with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!
StreetCreditReport.com – The only mention I found in an actual worst of list was it being mentioned as being … not that bad. But it is easily found on worst flops lists. Like this one. That is basically why it is famous after all.
Bring a Friend – This week we watched Edison as part of the bring a friend cycle. And unfortunately the only thing you can really say about it is that it is generic. Sure Justin Timberlake’s acting is straight up hilarious in the film. And some of the directorial choices are kind of off the wall. But if you’ve seen any number of cheesy corrupt cop dramas you’ve seen this movie. There is no twist, or mystery, no killers like in Righteous Kill to keep things interesting. It is just m’boy Justin T cracking the case with good journalism and taking down some fratty F.R.A.T. bros. No biggie. As far as bring a friend is concerned though I would give is a D+. It is hard to fault the film for its mere existence, but why does it exist? Why did I watch this? I will never watch it again, and would never recommend it to anyone. The extra few points is because JT’s acting is amusing on occasion. If you like guns though there is a good shoot’em up right in the beginning. Watch the first 10 minutes and then turn it off.
I did not read the book.