Lots of opinions have been aired about the movie and I have not read any that calls it ‘Vikingdoom’ – yet.
Most criticises the CGI quality and defenders brought up the fact that the tight budget limited the film’s potential.
According to Norman Abdul Hakim, a producer of KRU Studios, the budget for the movie Vikingdom : The Blood Eclipse is about RM20 million. In IMDB, it is estimated as USD15,600,000. I hope somebody would correct the info, because the difference is simply too huge to ignore.
I am writing not to condemn the makers of Vikingdom, but to share some of my thoughts and ideas as an audience so that, if they care to read this, their next project will be much better than Vikingdom and Merong (I believe Merong is better than Vikingdom).
Review of Vikingdom
I understand that CGI is the main concern of the filmmakers of Vikingdom. Although CGI is important in this age and technology, a movie derives its purpose from its storyline and a good screenplay is very important. A good director can bring out good performances from the casts that will connect the audience with the characters or get them to be interested in the storyline.
In my opinion, all other factors (CGI, costumes, props) are secondary and exist only to help enhance the story.
CGI should not reign over screenplay.
Anyway, I am happy to report that I have watched many, many more worse international movies (which probably didn’t make it to our cinemas) such as In the Name of the King, Merlin, The Last Legion (even though Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth and Aishwarya Rai were in it), etc.
Believe me, even Oscar-winning actors can’t save a bland movie (see The Last Legion), still at least in that movie, Aishwarya did not have to wear a zumba outfit in the middle of freezing weather.
I really have to ask Yusry :
Do you think pretty ladies are immune to the freezing weather?
My point here is – we shouldn’t put the blame solely on the actors. If the screenplay is good and the director capable, good actors will make it great. Vikingdom has an interesting storyline but the storytelling was bland, unfortunately.
It has potential, no doubt.
Dominic Purcell is a well-known actor, having starred in many tv series before such as John Doe, Prison Break, BeastMaster, Primeval, etc, but was totally wasted in Vikingdom.
I am not saying that he is a terrific actor, but was it the script that made him so _expressionless and the rest of the casts mediocre? Or the rushed process (due to budget-constraints) that resulted in a ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude?
Or Yusry’s relaxed direction as stated by Natassia Malthe (who played Brynna):
He was very relaxed and allowed the cast to portray their roles the way they feel fit. The mood on set was always positive.
More of Video Game Than Movie?
Vikingdom feels more like a ‘video-game’ than a movie. If you don’t believe me, listen to the music score. Perhaps the director/producer is a fan of fantasy movies such as Dr Pharnassus Emporium and Alice In Wonderland – not a problem if the storyline, script and performance are solid.
I believe if he had a good screenplay and proper assistance in managing the actors’ performance – ie have someone who is capable at extracting incredible performances from each actor at his side, the movie could have turned out better, even with such a budget.
Not an easy task, but I believe Yusry has the capability to expand his abilities and strive to be among the best in the industry by looking at the works of directors who are excellent in getting credible performances from their actors such as Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger) and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings).
Ang Lee’s first international English movie, Sense and Sensibility was made in 1995, on a $16 million budget, churned $134,993,774 in box office and earned 7 Academy Awards nomination (won Best Screenplay) despite the fact that English was not Ang Lee’s first language.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did even better, made on a mere $17 million budget, with dialogue in Mandarin, grossed $213.5 million and earned many more awards. Perhaps should consider the possibility of sharing our ‘native’ story in Malay. Just a note here, budget isn’t everything as proved by the budget of box-office movies Insidious ($1 mil) and Insidious : Chapter 2 ($5 mil).
I don’t know whether Yusry Abdul Halim did study diligently other movies, such as Arn : The Knight Templar, the 13th Warrior, Crouching Tiger, Lord of the Rings, etc, before he started working on Vikingdom. As an experienced actor, I believe Yusry can gauge whether the screenplay is good or not before embarking on the production. And lewdness is not necessary to reach international standards – look at Lord of the Rings, something that all members of the family can watch together.
On the contrary some of the unnecessary ‘scenes’ may have made Vikingdom look ‘cheap’.
Budget constraints should not be an excuse. If the film makers didn’t believe that RM20 million could give them a good result, they shouldn’t have made Vikingdom. If Yusry seriously wants to excel as a director/producer he should keep this saying in his mind – “Anything worth doing is worth doing well”. If movie business is merely a hobby for him, then the saying “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly” would fit an amateur or hobbyist well.
Still, I want to congratulate KRU Studios for their willingness to part with such a huge budget (according to Malaysian Standard), experimenting with something that is not a norm (such as gangsters, Pontianak, love stories, etc) and come up with something that is not disastrous.
It’s a valiant effort! Definitely there is a future for KRU Studios in the film industry – if they take their work seriously and take note of things that could be improved upon.