Pathfinder (2007 film)
|Directed by||Marcus Nispel|
|Written by||Laeta Kalogridis|
|Music by||Jonathan Elias|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$30.8 million|
Pathfinder (also known by the alternate title Pathfinder: The Legend of the Ghost Warrior) is a 2007 American epic action film directed by Marcus Nispel, distributed by 20th Century Fox, and stars Karl Urban, Clancy Brown, Ralf Möller, Moon Bloodgood, Russell Means, Jay Tavare, and Nathaniel Arcand.
Pathfinder received a widely negative critical reception and was a box office failure, grossing about USD 31 million compared to a budget of 45 million, but it managed to make a profit with another estimated USD 22 million in DVD sales.
A Viking Age expedition arrives in America, intending to slaughter the native "Skræling" population. The party is itself killed by another native tribe, the only survivor being the leader's son, who is adopted by a native woman. The boy is named "Ghost" for his paleness.
Fifteen years later, Ghost (Karl Urban) still lives among the tribe, but has never been accepted as a full member. His romantic interest is Starfire (Moon Bloodgood), the daughter of the Pathfinder (Russell Means), an elderly chief of a neighboring tribe.
In an attack by a new group of Viking raiders, Ghost's village is destroyed and all inhabitants killed, except a few tribesmen whom the attackers want to combat individually. Viking leader Gunnar (Clancy Brown) challenges Ghost, who is still in possession of his father's sword. He defeats Ulfar (Ralf Möller), cutting out his eye before escaping.
Ghost is pursued by the Vikings and receives an arrow wound. He reaches the neighboring tribe and is tended to by Pathfinder and his daughter. Ghost advises the villagers to flee, then he departs to take on the Vikings alone, but is joined by Jester, a mute admirer, who refuses to leave his side, and Starfire, who decides to leave the tribe for him. They defeat a few Vikings and collect their arms and armour. Pathfinder goes after his daughter and also joins the fight. Eventually, both Jester and Pathfinder are executed brutally, and Ghost and Starfire are captured. The Vikings threaten to torture Starfire if Ghost will not betray the location of the other villages. Ghost pretends to lead the Vikings to the tribe, and manages to kill most of them on the way, some drowning in a lake and others caught in an avalanche. Ghost eventually kills Gunnar in a duel on a cliff's edge
Ghost returns to Starfire with Pathfinder's necklace, thus making Starfire the new Pathfinder after her father. Ghost, now finally respected as the bravest of the tribe and one of their own, assumes his position watching over the coast in case the Vikings ever return.
- Karl Urban – Ghost
- Moon Bloodgood – Starfire
- Clancy Brown – Gunnar
- Ralf Möller – Ulfar
- Russell Means – Pathfinder
- Nathaniel Arcand – Wind In Tree
- Jay Tavare – Blackwing
- Kevin Loring – Jester
- Duane Howard – Elder
For the theatrical release and the initial DVD release, director Marcus Nispel had been forced to cut the gore and digitally remove some of the extreme violence out of at least 32 scenes, and also a scene of Ghost and Starfire making love in a cave, so that the film could gain an R rating from the MPAA. Nispel was also forced to trim down 23 scenes (including significant plot development) for reasons of time and pacing. In total around ten minutes were cut out of the film. These cuts were restored however, as well as the gore, for the unrated version, which was released on 27 August 2007. 
The film received generally negative reviews, with an 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 76 reviews, and a score of 29 on Metacritic based on 23 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
A review on the BBC website gave the film two out of five stars, stating, "...this Norse saga plays like a 100 minute trailer; there's no character development, no real plot, just a string of high-concept action sequences... ...director Marcus Nispel [a veteran director of music videos] helms it like it's a nu-metal video: swirling dry ice, thundering Dolby sound effects, and oversized Vikings who look like WWF wrestlers. Metalheads will be in Valhalla; everyone else should find a different path." Peter Debruge of Variety wrote, "This latest bit of historical balder-dash stands in direct defiance of proven action-movie formulas, trusting its brutal concept and striking visuals to overcome a lack of star power." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, "All grunting, all goring, the witless action flick "Pathfinder" has little to recommend it". Michael Ordona of the Los Angeles Times called it unintentionally funny, and Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called it a failed attempt to make an art-house film out of a concept better suited to an exploitation film.
Among the more positive reviews, Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter stated that the film "nicely balances action and adventure with American Indian wisdom and a modest romance to provide a graphic-comic-book movie experience for males in urban markets." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe praised the "grueling action sequences", granting that the filmmakers "choreograph some excitement" in two scenes "in a 99-minute adventure that feels longer than that".
Pathfinder opened theatrically in the United States on 13 April 2007, in sixth place on its opening weekend and had some big competition at the box office with 300, Blades of Glory, and Disturbia amongst others, and although Pathfinder earned over $5 million in its opening weekend at the box office, this quickly tailed off. Overall, worldwide the film earned just over $30 million at the box office, failing to recoup its $45 million budget, though it eventually made back its money through DVD sales.
Home video releases
The DVD of the film was released 31 July 2007. Nearly a million and a half DVDs of the film were sold in the United States, for an estimated $22,083,551 from the DVD sales. The DVD features director's commentary, trailers, alternate trailers, and six production featurettes covering design, building, shooting, action choreography and stunts. There is also a featurette devoted to Clancy Brown who portrays the film's main villain, Gunnar; titled Clancy Brown: Cult Hero it covers Clancy Brown's previous villainous roles on films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers, and as The Kurgan in Highlander, as well as others.
The film was also adapted into a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The graphic novel was built around dialogue written by the film screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis and with art by comic book artist Christopher Shy, and which was subsequently published by Dark Horse Comics at the same time as the film. From the beginning the graphic novel had a symbiotic relationship with the film. Film director Marcus Nispel, also a graphic novelist, decided to adapt the screenplay into a comic book format to appeal to his target audience more and help get a fan base to get his film made. However, his film got the green light before the graphic novel could be completed.
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