Renamed from the far more
catchy Eaters of the Dead, this wasn't a much troubled production at all,
dear me, no. The year-long delay was merely to avoid competing with the
other Banderas sword-fight pic, Mask of Zorro. Honest! Hmmm...
Whatever the truth, this looks like a typical Michael Crichton adaptation,
with the depth removed and only the exciting bits retained. Banderas is a
Muslim who ends up press-ganged alongside a dozen Vikings, fighting a horde
of...things...which are terrorising a village. Lots of crunchy swordfights
and inter-tribal bickering, and it's all terribly macho, women are kept
firmly in their place -- round the camp fire. Save for the hero though,
no-one else has any character to speak of; the other twelve warriors all
look like Norwegian death metal fans on their way to a church burning.
When you discover what the "things" are, it's somewhat disappointing, and
you can't help thinking, "Is that it?". There are flashes of brilliance
here, such as at the end, where the warriors read their own funeral
rites. Unfortunately, these only serve to illuminate the darkness and show
what might have been, and leave me surprisingly keen to read the
book but not bother again with the film.