Take James Cameron’s Aliens, drop it down in the middle of Lord of the Rings, then have it rewritten by Uwe Boll, and you’d have Outlander. It’s not a bad idea really, except for the part about Uwe Boll. In the world of Outlander Earth is actually a lost colony of some advanced human race, and Jim Caviezel plays a traveler whose space ship crash lands in ancient Norway, around the time of the Vikings and their legendary feasting halls. As luck would have it, he’s been followed by a vicious alien monster with the super-powers of a Lite Bright. Caviezel befriends the Vikings, fights the monster, and we all go home talking about how much fun we’ve just had watching drunken Vikings fight futuristic aliens with an army of battle axes, right? Not so fast.

The film’s problem isn’t budget, which it obviously didn’t have a lot of. Director Howard McCain does a surprisingly good job of getting by on whatever he had. The movie’s surprisingly convincing, the monster looks good when we see him and the world of the Vikings feels not only real, but historically accurate. I’m not saying Outlander is visually impressive exactly, but McCain gets the job done on a fairly ambitious project, using whatever resources he happened to have available. Outlander deserves some credit for that. It’s not like they made it with Star Wars cash here, yet this is the kind of story that could have demanded that, in someone else’s hands.

No it’s not budget really, or the look of the film, or the concept which, as movie ideas go is sort of a good one. The problem is everything else. The script seems as if it’s only half-formed, full of unnecessary flashbacks that only take away from the story when they’re meant to add to it. The lead actors seem frightfully miscast and even though most of them give fine performances, they’re just not convincing as but kicking barbarians. Jim Caviezel’s role should have been played by an Arnold Schwarzenegger type, in Predator-era form. The Vikings should be bigger, more badass brutes, dripping sweat and kicking ass. This needed to be a killer action movie, I’m thinking Conan the Barbarian in outer space action and then damn, Outlander really could have been something.

Unfortunately this isn’t that movie so let’s talk about what it is instead of what it isn’t. What Outlander has is a potentially fun idea that’s held back by sub-par writing and a slow as molasses beginning. This is a movie which takes far too long to get to the point. Bring on the Vikings! Bring on the Vikings! I’m tired of watching Jim Caviezel in the trees. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a weird sort of cheesy fun to be had within it and the movie takes a giddy sort of delight in fighting gore that’s pretty entertaining, but that’s always tempered by moments of flat out stupidity. More often than not Outlander zigs when it should have zagged, and that’s a shame.