Comments Off on Ragnarok
Don’t you love being pleasantly surprised when you go into a movie expecting to be in pain the entire time and end up with a good experience? Me too! Oh my dear B-movie makers, you never cease to surprise me. What I thought was going to be a CGI-laden, generic-screaming-girl, dude-with-bad-catchphrase-saves-the-day attempt at a would-be monster movie, turned into a cool romp into Norse legends and a decent creature flick.
Ragnarok is a foreign movie about an archaeologist who has been studying runes, boats, coins and shells all in an attempt to prove that a certain tribe of Vikings sailed to a certain point in geography. Cool idea, but the best evidence he has is a few shells stuck to a boat that sank. I don’t know if I’d cut funding at that point, but I’d definitely have some second thoughts when all I’m given shells. What’s that? Foreshadowing so heavy that the viewer is practically bludgeoned over the head with it is missing? Say no more! Runes and their meanings, ho! And while we’re at it, let’s verify the title. The end of the world might not be figurative, but a literal incident that the Vikings were trying to document and warn the rest of the world about. Duh. Funding pulled. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to the next plot point.
Character development is now flying at us so fast that a snail on a salt trail could finish a 2K marathon first. Single dad? Check! Bratty spoiled teenager? Check! Enthusiastic young son? Check! Wait. We’re missing a trope. Oh. There it is! Best friend with the perfect piece of evidence to force the main character to do something stupid and endanger himself and his family? Checkity check! After chartering a boat with a guide and a survival expert to another part of the country, they begin their quest for the end of the world event. This whole time I’m asking where the money came from if his funding got pulled? And how did they put this all together in less than 24 hours? Seriously! I can barely go out to eat fast food without a three-day reservation! Also, if you’re going to go spelunking in dangerous caves in a part of the country you’ve never been and know nothing about, bring the kids! It’ll be fun!
After a short trek through generic woods number 4,612, our characters reach their destination: an island surrounded by a supposed ‘bottom-less lake’ where the event Ragnarok happened. With several camera shots that establish that there is indeed a monster looming in said lake, they set out to explore said island and find nothing! These guys are the worst archaeologists in history! Why do I say that? Because the young son finds the secret of the island, then the daughter finds remnants of previous inhabitants. Both of those finds aren’t that far from the camp they set up. Pulled funding now justified! After playing in the cave and finding some items, they’re robbed at gunpoint by the guide. Raise your hand if you saw that coming, folks. Yeah, me too. But wait, this is supposed to be a monster movie. Where’s the monster? Well, we get a rrreeeeaaaaallllllyyyy far away shot of the monster attacking said guide trying to get away. Now, back to that salt trail.
If horror movies have taught me anything, it’s not to go in the woods. The second thing they’ve taught me is never touch things that look like eggs! Seriously. Ask Sigourney Weaver what I’m talking about. Of course, the young boy takes one of the monster’s eggs that conveniently hatches shortly after and now we have the reason for the monster to chase everyone. Here’s where the movie gets kind of good.
We’re given glimpses of the monster, dramatic camera angles and bubbling water which all keep the thing off the screen, but the threat real. I happen to enjoy this method of using the threat of a monster. It builds a fear that the unknown is still out there and hunting the characters. It keeps the monster hidden for most of the movie, helping create a suspense most popularized by Jaws. By the time we see the monster, we’re more impressed and this movie follows that old formula very, very well. Kudos to the writer and director for successfully pulling this off.
It was established earlier on that Soviets inhabited the island and a lot of their stuff is still lying around, giving us our next set piece: an underground bunker. With the monster now revealed as a giant dinosaur snake… thing… we have several chase scenes, close calls and the final scenes of the movie. No spoilers, folks. But I will say, this little gem is worth a watch. With decent pacing, an easy-to-follow plot and an impressive use of a monster, I’d happily recommend this to anyone looking for old school formulas used with modern technology. Thanks for reading, folks. Stay tuned!
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