Author: Christian Ditter
Writer’s Potential: 7
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On the ship, Halvar ridicules Wickie for burying his nose in a book. The ship returns to the village of Flake, where Halvar and Wickie reunite with YLVA (Wickie’s overbearing mother) and YLVIE (Wickie’s best friend, a girl with a crush on him). Ylva and the other wives want to know what sort of treasure and food they brought back. Nobody’s happy to find potatoes and mead is all they got. The warriors keep promising jewels and geese, but all they ever come back with are potatoes. As they unload the barrels, Wickie and FAXE (a warrior) see one start to move on its own. The lid pops off, and out leaps SVENJA, a girl Wickie’s age, who immediately runs off. Halvar orders Wickie to chase her. With some effort, Wickie gets her (but she immediately pins him to the ground), and Halvar declares her their new slave. Wickie shows Ylvie a book he looted, which chronicles the adventures of Thor, who destroys ships with his lightning hammer and lives in an Ice Palace filled with treasure. Unimpressed, Ylvie points to an odd lock in the Ice Palace illustration. Wickie realizes it matches the shape of Halvar’s amulet. Wickie tries to tell Halvar about the amulet, but Halvar won’t listen. The villagers make a feast from their potatoes and mead, but the mead is drugged. It knocks them all unconscious, and when Wickie awakens, Halvar is gone — he’s been kidnapped, and all signs point to Terrible Sven. Because Halvar is gone, Wickie defaults as their leader. The other Vikings lack confidence in Wickie, so they want to take a vote, but ultimately the votes go toward Wickie, who wants to lead a charge to rescue Halvar. Tearfully, Ylva gives him Halvar’s sun dial. Ylvie gives him a sugar beet for good luck.
Wickie takes the helm of the ship, but he’s so incompetent, it moves every direction but forward. Eventually, after destroying the pier and several fishing boats, they go out on the high seas. Wickie tries to give orders to the crew and get them to work together, but they don’t listen. Svenja mocks Wickie’s leadership skills. A violent storm tosses the ship about. The Vikings awaken on a sandy beach on the Isle of the Valkyries, their ship damaged. Wickie leads them into the jungle to find cloth to repair their sales. Instead, they find the Valkyries — beautiful, athletic women, who capture the Vikings in a huge net, which they care to a volcano. Wickie struggles to negotiate with them. He sees they have a sail, but they have nothing to offer the Valkyries for it. Wickie insists he can get the treasure from Thor’s Ice Palace. This gives the Valkyries pause. The VALKYRIE CHIEF asks if Wickie has the amulet, but Svenja pipes up that Terrible Sven stole it. The Valkyries are fearful at the mention of his name. They help the Vikings repair the ship and find Cape Fear — Terrible Sven’s island — under the condition that they get the amulet back and never seek the treasure, which will grant its owners great power no human should have.
Wickie and the Vikings set sail. They get lost on the way to Cape Fear, but with Svenja’s help, they make it there. It’s a frightening place with black volcanic rock and ashy ground, full of gloom and fog. They pass Odin’s Gorge, an extremely dangerous passage from which no man has returned. The ship beaches within sight of Terrible Sven’s huge castle. Wickie comes up with a brilliant idea to get into the castle — they’ll dress up like clowns and pretend to be the court jesters. Svenja confesses she’s impressed with Wickie’s emerging leadership skills. The castle guards think the group look like Vikings dressed up like clowns, but their appearance distracts them long enough for Faxe to knock them unconscious. They creep silently through the corridor when Wickie accidentally knocks over 10 suits of armor in a domino effect. POKKA, Terrible Sven’s assistant, hears the noise and is pleased to see the court jester’s have arrived. He leads them into the banquet hall, where they’re expected to perform an act. They have nothing prepared, so ULME starts singing “Scarborough Fair” while Wickie leads the others in terrible dance movements. This eventually turns into a violent altercation, which to the amusement of Terrible Sven and his court. They burst into wild applause, and the Vikings prepare to leave when Terrible Sven orders them back — because they forgot to take their pay.
Wickie leads the Vikings to the dungeon, where he attempts to negotiate the release of Halvar with the guards. The guards are confused by the idea of diplomacy, so the other Vikings beat them up. Wickie leads the Vikings into Halvar’s cell, and after a gleeful reunion — Svenja slams the door shut, informing them she’s Terrible Sven’s daughter. Terrible Sven browbeats her, and it seems like Svenja immediately regrets her actions. The Vikings make a human ladder to an opening 30 feet above, ending with Wickie. Halvar is shocked to see his normally fearful son scale the Vikings with gusto. Wickie finds a donkey outside. He attaches the sugar beet to a stick, which he ties to the donkey’s head. He tries to use the donkey to pull the men out of the cell, but instead, they pull the donkey down into the cell. Wickie’s on his own. He sneaks around the castle until he finds Terrible Sven’s bedroom. Sven sleeps, snoring loudly. Wickie sees the dungeon key hanging around Sven’s neck. With some effort and physical schtick involving Sven tossing and turning while Wickie tries to grab for the key, Wickie manages to remove it. He also spots the amulet on Sven’s nightstand, so he takes that, too. On his way out, Wickie steps on a creaky floorboard, waking Sven immediately. Wickie hides in a barrel as Svenja busts into the room, having heard the quiet creak from her room. Together, Terrible Sven and Svenja go to search the castle for intruders. When they leave, Wickie returns to the dungeon. He frees Halvar and the others, but they hear Terrible Sven — he knows the amulet is missing. Forced to flee quickly, Wickie leads them up to a tower. Their only option is to plummet down into the ship. Halvar is shocked by Wickie’s bravery.
As soon as their ship sets sailed, they discover they’re surrounded by Terrible Sven’s forces. The only way out is Odin’s Gorge. Despite the Vikings’ protests, Wickie orders them into the Gorge. Terrible Sven witnesses this, shocked. Svenja is smitten, certain this was Wickie’s brainstorm. Terrible Sven takes a ship into the Gorge, quickly catching up to Halvar despite the treacherous waters. Terrible Sven hops over to Halvar’s ship, while Wickie hops over to Sven’s. While Halvar battles Sven for the amulet, Wickie battles Svenja for his book. Sven manages to get the amulet, and Wickie narrowly escapes before Sven can capture and hold him prisoner. There’s a fork in the Gorge. The Vikings choose the wrong path and end up getting stuck in the frozen Arctic Ocean. Halvar is disappointed that Wickie can’t think of an idea to get them out of it. The crew is forced to spend the night huddled up against each other, trying to keep from freezing.
They’re awakened by the Eskimos Wickie freed earlier. These Eskimos lead Wickie and the Vikings to the Palace of Eternal Ice. The amulet sticks out of the lock, but it hasn’t frozen over, meaning they may not be too late to get to Sven. Inside, the Vikings confront Terrible Sven and his men. Wickie opens his book, which contains cryptic clues on how to get the treasure. While Halvar fights Sven, Wickie realizes he needs to use some frozen ropes to tie together various elemental runes in a specific order. Sven corners Halvar. His men hold the Vikings hostage while Wickie sneaks off to find the treasure. Svenja spots him and runs after him. Inside the treasure chamber is Thor’s hammer. Wickie and Svenja are awed. The ice begins to crack under Svenja’s feet. He has to make the choice between using the hammer to save the Vikings or saving Svenja. He’s not big or strong enough to pull her out. The only way to get her out is for Svenja to give up her treasured sword. She does so, reluctantly. Wickie pulls Svenja out of the treasure chamber just as it collapses. Terrible Sven manages to get the hammer, firing lightning bolts at the Vikings — but he’s melting everything, destroying the chamber around him. The Vikings try to flee before the entire palace is destroyed. Wickie holds up a mirror as Terrible Sven shoots a bolt, reflecting it back to him. Sven drops the hammer, which slides to Svenja. Sven orders her to finish off the Vikings, but she hurls the hammer into the huge crevasse that has formed in the collapsing Ice Palace.
Seeing Terrible Sven is about to fall into the crevasse himself, Wickie leads the Vikings back to help pull him up. Wickie shows Terrible Sven the value of diplomacy, which he grudgingly accepts. Wickie, Halvar, and the other eskimos load the ship with treasure and geese. Wickie and Svenja part ways amiably. Back in the village of Flake, Halvar bestows the Amulet of the Brave on Wikie. The villagers cheer.
The first act sets up a simple but engaging conflict as bookworm Wickie is ridiculed by all the Viking warriors — most hurtfully by his own father — for reading instead of taking heroic action. The writer puts Wickie on a believable journey from socially awkward nerd to truly heroic leader of men, making his arc — and the story as a whole — satisfying despite its flaws. The writer also does a pretty good job of setting up the other major characters and the story that leads them all on a course to fight over Thor’s hammer. There’s nothing outstanding here, but it’s all solid.
The second act diversion to the Isle of the Valkyries, while amusing, feels pretty unnecessary. I plead ignorance regarding the source material — if the Isle of the Valkyries is a memorable component of the first film and/or the animated series, it’s reasonable to assume audiences will enjoy it. Narratively, though, it doesn’t quite fit. Aside from providing a few amusing jokes, the Valkyries don’t do much but deliver exposition through disappointingly lazy, on-the-nose dialogue. This sense of wheel-spinning actually does continue as the Vikings reach Sven’s castle. The “court jester” sequence is an amusing diversion, but it stops the story in its tracks. The saving grace is how short the second act is — the script gets bogged down, but never for too long.
The third act keeps up the combination of goofy comedy and action-adventure. All of the set-pieces are brief, entertaining, and satisfying. Halvar’s shock at how much his son has changed is a nice touch, but it’d be more successful if the second act spent more time showing Wickie as a strong leader and less time distracted with wacky comedic moments. Svenja’s betrayal is obvious from the moment she pops out of the mead barrel (come on, the first for letters of her name are “Sven”), but the writer actually does a nice job of making her seem human — she’s not simply fooling Wickie. All of this leads to a tidy resolution and a cheerfully upbeat ending.
Other than the second act weaknesses, the biggest problem with the script is that the humor (particularly the rampant, unabashed sexism and many jokes about slavery) may not play well abroad, being that this is a kids’ movie. Much of the script is amusing, and may even entertain parents, but certain audiences won’t necessarily want their kids exposed to such dark humor.
The characters are simple but solid. It’s tough to complain about a character whose name is “Terrible Sven” not being multifaceted. Still, the writer does a nice job of giving each character in this large cast individual quirks to differentiate them from one another. Wickie’s arc, which effectively shows that the brainy and brawny can learn from one another equally and strike a good balance rather than being one or the other, which seems like a pretty good message for the target audience.
This is one of the better kids’ movie scripts out there, but it will be difficult for it to find a large international audience when most kids outside of Germany and Austria are unfamiliar with the source material.
Posted by D. B. Bates on May 5, 2010 11:02 PM