Ragnarok (2013) - The solid writing in this good old fashioned monster movie makes for good introduction horror for the kids. Scary with children at risk, but never so much that there is a a thought of death. There is nothing gory or too violent in this Norwegian film. It is a tale of a man who is failing at raising his kids since his wife died of cancer 5 years prior, who is failing at his job as an archaeologist seeking the location of the viking myth Ragarök. While attempting proving that myth has a location he reconnects to his family and what is most important in life. The myth which is not really a place but the description of a series of events in the Poems of Edda is the myth used but it is a way for the family to get to the location of the monster. Once there we can see the interpersonal story withing the family play out to a satisfactory conclusion.
The father in this film is Sigard (Pal Sverre Hagen) who plays a man emotionally crippled five years after losing his wife to cancer. He is still struggling with the little things like feeding the children, daughter Ragnhild (Maria Annette Tandero Berglyd) and younger son Brage (Julian Podolski), getting them to school and showing up on time to there events. He is also in trouble in work, arriving late to an investors meeting at the museum his boss gives him the ultimatum he probably should have had years earlier. Problem with Sigard is that besides letting his grief handicap him he is obsessed with the myth of Ragnarok and as things in his personal life fall apart he discovers a cypher for some ruins he thinks will lead him to a great discovery. Packing up the family and accompanied by fellow researchers Allen (Nicolai Cleve Broch) and Elisabeth (Sofia Helin) they head off into the Finnmark along the old Soviet border in search of a myth.
Well constructed with the building of the interpersonal relationships, the main character's flaws and the plot of the discovery, all withing the concise scenes that set the stage for the adventure. We end up with several well plotted line going at once. Ragnhild and Sigard must reconcile his ineffective parenting as she moves from her tweens to teens.get to his daughter's concert at school. Later with his inability to put her needs for a real vacation ahead of his need to search for vikings. Set up early with his inability to Sigard must reconcile finally having not moved on from his wife by being presented a love interest. He must also balance the desire to solve the mystery of his archaeological finds with the safety of his family. Then also are some nicely set up secondary characters, like the shady guide who helps then find the lake of viking lore. A partner Allen also is well set up as the overly enthusiastic one, with no children of his own we can see his behavior contrasted to that of Sigard. It all comes together to tell a complete tales with multiple facets.
If there is a criticism to be made it is that the film is so well designed that it is inevitable. I is an example of screenwriting that takes all the time needed, but the limited budget means that the excitement and effects are not included until the climax of the film. Around the twenty minute mark the film finally gets a group heading to the Finnmark, Sigard and his kids, Allen and assistant and love interest Elisabeth and guide Lief head into the wilderness across the old Soviet border to find the "Eye of Odin" which turns out to be a lake with an island in the middle of it. Everything is tied up neat and tidy with each location used later in the film being introduced earlier. Each interpersonal flaw seen earlier is either a cause of later trouble or weakness overcome later. Each set to be used later is shown but not explored. Since this is really a family monster movie we know certain things like the family will come out of it changed but alive. We know that since it is set up early that Sigard needs to move on from his wife's death we know the only other female character next to his daughter will survive as his love interest. That leaves two characters who are in jeopardy. The first being the greedy guide is set up when we meet him so his turn is expected. That leaves Allen and his betrayal or stupid move is straight out of one of the Jurassic Park movies.
Do not allow these small criticisms to stop you from seeing this film. It is a wonderfully entertaining little family adventure. Sure you will have to read subtitles, unless there is a dubbed version out there somewhere but still it is worth it. There is a definite recommendation for this one.