Movie Review: The 13th Warrior

by Matthew M. Lug - Newspeak Staff

Starring Antonio Banderas, directed by Michael Crichton and John McTiernan, based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton.

The basic story is simple - horrible beasts are killing vikings, snacking on the bodies, and keeping heads as souvenirs. A few warriors are then sent to stop them. The twist is that one of the chosen warriors, Ibn Fadlan (Banderas), is an arab ambassador who just happens to be passing through when the group is assembled, and is forced to accompany twelve people he can't communicate with on a quest he doesn't even fully understand.

Having already read the book, I was familiar with the plot and was more interested in seeing how well the movie told the story. After seeing some very bad movies based on Crichton's novels (Does anyone remember Congo? No? Exactly.), I wasn't sure what to expect. The initial reviews seemed favorable, but you can't always trust movie critics. However, I wasn't disappointed. The story was slightly different from the book of course, and certain things were left out (including one rather important part near the end), but the movie is intended to be entertainment and not a lesson in Nordic culture. Despite the slimmed-down story, the general cultural differences between the arabs and vikings were still clearly shown. Ibn Fadlan's transformation from an arab ambassador to a viking warrior was also portrayed well. As the title of the book implies, there was plenty of bloody violence (the first brutal killing took place about five minutes into the film), so this movie isn't suitable for small children, like the three who were sitting in the row in front of me. There was also plenty of action between blood spurts, a reasonable plot, and surprisingly little sexual content.

So what's the bottom line? If you are the kind of person who is interested in the details of a story as well as blood, gore, and vikings, then I would suggest reading the book beforehand. If you just want to see a decent movie for a change and you don't mind beheadings and such, then this movie is worth seeing. If you faint at the sight of blood in a film, this is definitely not for you.

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