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  13th warrior poster
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The 13th Warrior

Rated [R], 114 minutes
Starring Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif
Diane Venora, Dennis Storhoi, Vladimir Kulich
Screenplay by William Wisher and Michael Crichton
Based on Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead"
Directed by John McTiernan

Cranky's noticed a resurgence in barbarian and battle themes in the graphic media -- Roy Thomas is again writing Conan. Frank Miller delivered 300, a killer adaptation of the age old story of Spartans versus Persians. Which doesn't explain why Michael Crichton's tale of an Arab poet among the barbarians of the North, The 13th Warrior offers up a lot of battle and a very little in the way of story or character development. We could drop the traditional dismissal as a "comic book movie" on this thing, but most of the comics are better.

Of course, a movie ticket will run you a lot less than the $15.75 the set of 300 would've cost you and the ticket comes with free air-conditioning, so you have to decide for yourself.

Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas) is a poet at the Royal Court in Baghdad. Having the temerity to make eye contact with one of the King's favorite women, he is banished to the North Countries as an "ambassador," in the obvious hope that he'll die somewhere along the journey. At his side is wise man Melchisidek (Omar Sharif) whose knowledge of foreign languages is greater than Ahmed's own. In short order Ahmed is attacked by Tartars, saved by Norse warriors and drafted into service by a bone throwing witch.

As with most barbarian stories, the good guys must save the town from mystical and incredibly violent attackers. Here, the bad guys rip the heads off the good guys. Their dead mysteriously vanish when the battle is over. They fight like bears and move like men, therefore they are "demons". It's all an excuse to set up large battle sequences, all fought at night, which form the bulk of the production. when the story begins to lag, the usual crazy lady slash witch slash prophetess appears to guide the good guys on their way and give them the key to victory. Yadda Yadda Yadda, let's have another battle. I can't even identify the significant Northerners 'cuz they don't use names and, excepting the occasional beard or differing haircut, they all look alike to me.

Don't flame me, folks, Cranky's been sick as a dog all week and just doesn't have the energy to get creative about a poor Robert E. Howard genre story. The 13th Warrior offers up just enough gore to make teenboys happy, but not enough to totally gross out anyone outside of that demographic.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The 13th Warrior, he would have paid...


Rent it for the battle scenes if your fondness for barbarian stories is a thing of the past. Kidlets just discovering Conan could like it.

Click to buy films by John McTiernan
Click to buy films starring Antonio Banderas
Click to buy films starring Omar Sharif

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