Erik the Viking Reviews
"Erik The Viking" was inspired by Terry Jones's children's book "The Saga of Erik the Viking" (1983), but the plot is completely different. With both Terry Jones (writer and director as well) and John Cleese in smaller roles you might believe the originality of Monty Python carries the film, but that´s not the case. This is just a way too light comedy we are served and it´s not funny nor memorable. I think this is just half assed from Jones and him relying on that the Monty Python stamp would be enough to make this film into something ok. This is a classic "in one eye, out the other" film. Robbins and Co are all just backdrops in this campy and pointless viking saga. The only positive thing in "Erik The Viking" is the gorgeous Imogen Stubbs.
Inspired by Jones's own children's story book but strangely enough not following his own creation, the film revolves around Norse mythology although I'm unsure how closely, I doubt its that close. We follow Erik and his viking crew as they travel to Asgard so they may ask the Gods to end the age of Ragnarök. They all believe the sun has been swallowed by Fenrir the mighty wolf which has plunged their world into darkness. So its a travelling into the unknown type adventure which was very popular in the 80's.
I guess the main issue I had with this film (first time seeing it!) was the fact it felt like it was trying to copy various other movies in terms of visuals at least. The whole mystery voyage into the unknown and looking for mystical fabled items angle is cool but so very dated and to be really truly honest this film just felt like a combination of all of the films I mentioned above. The visuals aren't even that exciting really, most of the start is set within a drab dreary Viking village, then we move onto a drab and dreary sea sequence, then we get some exotic visuals but eventually its back to drab and dreary as they find Asgard. Most of the movie looks very cheap and cheerful too, the sea monster is quite nice and typically Python-esque but all sets and costumes (especially wigs) just look very tacky.
I realise Jones has gone for that simple dirty cheap look (classic Python look) but it comes across as a tired attempt. 'Time bandits' had the same kind of visual approach but it also had some good location sequences and an exciting story, this story of Erik didn't really grab me at all. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters, their journey seems too easy, they find their goal quite quickly without doing much, the Gods are just kids which was anti-climatic, nothing really happens during the adventure that is of any real consequence...no urges of pending failure and the finale is really very weak.
I can't even say any of the characters were good fun...the same old routines which have been seen before in better films. There is a strong element of forced comedy throughout the film which is never really that amusing. The silly goofy characters are just trying way too hard, a good example would be the entire sequence set on Hy-Brasil with Jones in a familiar high pitched speaking role. As for Robbins as Erik...he is miscast in my view, far too meek, not really good looking enough for the hero and with an American accent!...sheesh! what on earth was Jones thinking?! Not even the powerhouse that is John Cleese can help this dull tale, his portrayal of the evil 'Halfdan the Black' as a soft spoken good mannered pleasant seeming chap (basically Cleese playing Cleese or his Robin Hood character from 'Timebandits'), again just felt rehashed and out of place.
There are one or two nice visual moments like the Viking ship going over the edge of the flat Earth and as I said the sea monster (what you see of it), but that's about it. I found the whole thing rather underwhelming frankly despite the solid UK cast and alluringly cool little movie poster. Its pretty unexciting with little to care about and a terrible finale, there are better Python-esque fantasies out there.
The worst scenes include the opening, the introduction to John Cleese's scene (his villain is really dull and uninteresting) the singing in Hy Brazil, the invisible cloak scene and any scene where Sven goes berserk.
However, I do like the look of this film, the costumes and sets are nice. One scene I did find funny is when the vikings are sick on the boat. "Goodbye Norway. Goodbye, lunch" and Thorfinn, a viking who isn't sick keeps talking about a man who couldn't stop vomiting making another viking Ivar the Boneless more and more ill.
I also like the Asgard scenes and I like the fact that the gods turn out to be children. Oh dear, spoiler. I'm evil.
The dragon fight, it was okay. I thought the dragon sneezing and sending the ship flying was. Now, imagine if they were behind the dragon.
The princess of Hy Brazil is just a pointless love interest for the hero and the film doesn't end. It just stops. No dialogue, just characters standing there and fade to black. Yawn. Sometimes it works if it has the right music, but here it just fails.
Yeah, the music in this is awful. There was only one person doing the music. Neil Innis. I know this is a low budget film, but so was Star Wars. And that film had fantastic music.
When "Erik" came out, it bombed. I'm not sure if any of the cast or crew have anything nice to say about it. Jones likes it though. His son re-edited the film into "The Director's Son's Cut". To tell you the truth, that version is even worse. Yes, the pacing is a bit faster, but a lot of scenes make no sense and feel rushed. Characters and scene would appear out of no-where puzzling the viewer.
Overall, it's just okay. Worth watching for the look of the film, but don't expect too many belly laughs.
BUY!!!! if you like sword and sorcery movies