A film that sat on the shelf...and sat, and sat, for over a year, "The 13th Warrior" had its share of production difficulties as Michael Crichton directed re-shoots at the last minute to make changes he was not happy with from director John McTiernan("Die Hard")'s cut of the film. They didn't help much. The movie stars Antonio Banderas as Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, an Arab who found himself in the country of the vikings in the 10th century. Based on Chrichton's "Eaters Of The Dead"(which this was originally called), the story has Ahmed becoming part of the viking group that he finds. Soon, when the vikings are called into battle against an anicent enemy, Ahmed finds himself a reluctant warrior.
One can hardly believe that this cost nearly 100 million dollars. There's not really much of a story, and what plot the film does contain takes more than a half hour in to really get started. Even then, the film stumbles along slowly for most of its running time. Ahmed is really the only character who is developed to a basic point; all of the other warriors are not given much at all to go on and most should hardly be considered real characters. Again, I was amazed that McTiernan would make an action film this slow. In a film like this, if I'm waiting for something to happen an hour into the picture, that's never a good sign. The fights that do happen are mainly dark and rather dull, and a little too gory. Although the final 30 minutes do offer a few thrills, it's really too little, too late. One doesn't really wonder why this was delayed for over a year, but a little more action and stronger characters would have helped it immensely.
Acting? There really isn't any, with the exception of Banderas. The few other supporting characters do a fair job with what little they're given. I'll say this at least; the one thing that I found enjoyable was the cinematography of Peter Menzies, Jr., who also did fine work with the John Travolta film "The General's Daughter". Overall, it's a movie that's not bad as a "rental".
It's Disney and suprise... it's anamorphic. "The 13th Warrior has recieved the first non-Miramax anamorphic transfer from Disney, and the results are excellent. Although this isn't a terribly colorful picture - the intent seems to call for muted colors, the picture still seems natural and clear, doing justice to the fantastic cinematography of Peter Menzies, Jr. Detail, even in some of the darker scenes, is still quite good. Black level in the image is strong and flesh tones are accurate and natural.
There are really no problems with pixelation or shimmering. The only slight flaw that I saw were an a few marks on the print used here and there. Other than that, this is a clear, clean image and a level of quality that I hope Disney can achieve on future releases.
SOUND: Even if the movie isn't very exciting, the audio certainly is. Surrounds are used to great effect, with subtle and major use throughout the movie, doing a fantastic job of putting the viewer right in the middle of the action. Battle sequences are especially thrilling. The awesome score by Jerry Goldsmith also sounds great, rich and clear throughout the film. Dialogue is fine, with no problems.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated main menus.
EXTRAS: The trailer.
Final Thoughts Excellent sound and video quality, but the movie itself isn't too great.