Saturday, June 1, 2013

Perhaps The Dumbest Fantasy Film In Years, Hammer Of The Gods Is A Huge Disappointment

The Good: Costumes? Cinematography?
The Bad: Terrible dialogue, Predictable plot, Awful acting, Conceptually ridiculous.
The Basics: The violent historic/fantasy epic Hammer Of The Gods is a stupid, homophobic, man-driven action film that is easily one of Summer Blockbuster Season’s least inspired outings.

As Summer Blockbuster Season enters full swing and the theaters get clogged with big budget, special effects-driven movies that try to dazzle viewers into forgetting about the heat and the fact that they are paying more than ever for movie tickets, some of the smaller studios are competing for screens. Hoping that when the big budget films sell out viewers will say “What the hell, we’re here anyway, let’s go to . . . “ [Looking over the list for the next film playing at the theater], Hammer Of The Gods arrives for what will undoubtedly be its lone week in wide release. Trying to capitalize on the success of Game Of Thrones (season two is reviewed here!) and Spartacus: War Of The Damned, Hammer Of The Gods is a cheesetastic fantasy/period piece that lacks the big budget effects or conceptual intrigue of even the recent Wrath Of The Titans (reviewed here!).

Very much a “guy’s movie,” Hammer Of The Gods features manly men going on a military-related quest (it’s no Saving Private Ryan!), making jibes at one another, saying “fuck” repeatedly for no particular reason, despising the one openly gay character in the movie, and presenting enough carnage for the white hat fratboys to get excited. This is not a thinking man’s movie or a flick that any woman is going to want to see (and I include fantasy lovers – there’s not enough of that element in the movie to justify sitting through it -, jocks, and bored women with an i.q. above 25. In fact, Hammer Of The Gods might serve best as a litmus test for women in new relationships this summer; if your guy wants to take you to see this movie on a date . . . run!).

In 871 Britian, Bagsecg calls for reinforcements for the Viking position in central Britain. As Bagsecg lays dying, his son, Prince Steinar, and his associates land ahead of a force of 500 Saxons coming to do battle with the Vikings. Bagsecg calls upon Steinar to find his lost firstborn son, Hakan, believing that he can lead the Vikings to victory. After trying to rescue a woman being stoned, Steinar and his men find Ivar, the last known man to see Hakan alive. After a challenge by Ivar, which threatens the Prince’s rectal integrity, Steinar is led into the woods where he fights masked men and loses the least likable members of his band.

Realizing that his other brother has forged a pact with the Saxons that involves getting rid of Steinar, Steinar is captured by enemy forces and saved only through the group’s lone woman, who avoided capture. Refusing to be converted to the Saxon’s emerging Christian Church, overcoming traitors and enemy warriors, Steinar meets with his older psychopathic brother.

Hammer Of The Gods is one of those films that, the longer it goes on, the viewer just finds themselves asking, “What is the point?” While the movie has decent costumes and was filmed in some pretty beautiful countrysides (presumably of Europe), but otherwise is an utter waste of money and time. As the movie spends inordinate amounts of time focused on infighting within Steinar’s band of un-merry Vikings to pad out the film with pointless swordfights among characters the viewer does not actually care about, boredom ensues. The characters wander from one meaningless episode to another on their quest to find Hakan, Steinar finds himself more and more alone. But, given that he is a brutish thug who pulls his sword as often on members of his own group as he does the Saxon enemies, it is hard to care.

Steinar is hardly a worthwhile protagonist and the fight his people are fighting (mostly offscreen) is not presented in a particularly compelling way. This is not this years’s 300 (reviewed here!); the characters, setting and situation do not come together to make the viewer root for the film’s hero. By the time Steinar finds the skull-decorated cave that houses Ulric, Hakan’s torture artist, and Hakan, they have stopped caring about how Hammer Of The Gods might be resolved.

Starring Charlie Bewley, Hammer Of The Gods is a tour de force of performances that leave absolutely no impression or belief that any of the performers in the work have any talent. Given that none of the characters have any real character development, there is not a lot of room for any of the performers to show much in the way of emotional range. This is a film where the casting call pretty much could have been “limbs intact, able to growl” as the casting desires. No one shines and none of the characters deliver an arc that is even remotely empathetic.

The result is that Hammer Of The Gods is a summer flick that is an utter flop, not worth spending the time watching.

For other war fantasy films, please check out my reviews of:
The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Masters Of The Universe


For other movie reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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