Friday, October 05, 2018

Viking Destiny

Helle is no Brunhilde. She is a warrior who is not about to break out into song. Nor is she inclined to wait around for a man to save her. She also comes from mortal stock, albeit of a noble vintage. She is in fact, the king’s rightful heir, but instead, she was raised by the king’s deceitful brother, Prince Bard, or the Half-Prince as some derisively call him. Although they played the roles of father and daughter for years, they will both be perfectly happy to kill the other when the truth comes out in director-screenwriter David L.G. Hughes’ Viking Destiny (a.k.a. Of Gods and Warriors), which opens today in New York.

Helle was born at an inconvenient time. King Asmund of Volsung was off saving the Viking realm from foreign invaders while his wife died in childbirth. When he returned, his jerky brother convinced him he needed a male heir to ensure stability, so they swapped infant progeny. Helle turned out to be the fighter, whereas the presumed Prince cuts a rather underwhelming figure. Alas, Helle’s time together with her real father will be brief once the truth is revealed by a loyal retained. However, her desire for revenge burns brightly just the same.

Of course, Helle also happens to be a loose end Bard needs to tie up. Frankly, his pursuit of her is rather counterproductive, taking her distractions, like a love triangle among a peaceful tribe of vegetarian nomads. Arguably, you cannot judge the mortals too harshly for strategic errors, because they have Odin and Loki perched on either shoulder, like the angel and devil in old school Saturday morning cartoons.

To be fair, Anne Demetriou has decent screen presence and action cred as Princess Helle, but Hughes’ narrative is dull and lifeless, while his dialogue is horribly clunky. That does not leave her much to work with. When in doubt, Odin and/or Loki reappear for some power-people-whispering. These scenes would be utter cringe fests were it not for Game of Thrones alumnus Murray McArthur in high camp mode and a depressingly embarrassed looking Terence Stamp cranking up the wtf randomness, as Loki and Odin, respectively.

Aside from that, there are a few nicely blocked out fight scenes (but not nearly enough) and a lot of trudging through the forest, which turns into gamboling when Helle stumbles across the vegetarian cult. Rarely, have destined ones been so easily distracted. Not recommended (even though we approve of Helle’s fierceness and resourcefulness), Viking Destiny opens today (10/5) in New York, at the Cinema Village.