If you've been longing for a Viking fish-out-of-water cannibal movie, look no further. Add Antonio Banderas to the equation and The 13th Warrior is unstoppable.
At least that's what the producers must have thought. Who put their finger on the pulse of America and said, "We need more Viking movies!" Perhaps it was co-producer and author Michael Crichton, whose book Eaters of the Dead (yum!) the film is based.
I'd say it was a good idea to rename the film; I can't see a lot of families leaving Bennigan's to visit the multiplex showing the original title.
Director John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard) also serves as the other co-producer, all the while attempting to persuade the moviegoing public that he didn't direct The Last Action Hero.
I must admit that I kind of enjoyed The 13th Warrior, if only for the sheer oddness of the story in today's movie "climate." I'm amazed that a movie like this can get made. The acting was fine (yes, even Banderas), Omar Sharif has an enjoyable (though relatively small) role early in the film, the locations and cinematography were very nice, there were even some okay action scenes.
But, c'mon. Vikings?!!
This film came out pretty much at the same time as the new Thomas Crown Affair, also directed by McTiernan. I assume at least one of these films was on the shelf for one or two years, and I don't think it starred Pierce Brosnan.
Hopefully I can see Thomas Crown (it's playing now at the Davis) and tell you truthfully which is the superior John McTiernan film. Until then I would like to personally thank Touchstone for finally releasing The 13th Warrior, and put forth a humble request to the other studios with films languishing on the shelf.
SONY!       PARAMOUNT!     NEW LINE!     MIRAMAX!
RELEASE YOUR VIKING PICTURES!
See you at the movies. Save me the unstained seat.