The Northman

The Northman
The Northman
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In a frantic Viking heroic tale, Alexander Skarsgård unleashes hell. The Northman is a very Hamlet-like story set in Scandinavia with elements of history thrown into the mix. The movie combines fantasy with its brutal depiction of murder, looting and pillaging by inserting gods from Norse mythology who bestow their blessings on one mighty protagonist. An action-packed hack-fest through limbs hacked off and guts hanging out is what this savage odyssey represents. Well-acted, well-directed and undeniably exciting–with a runtime that drags due to predictability.  

Late 9th century: young Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) waits eagerly for his father’s return from war while King Aurvandill War-Raven’s (Ethan Hawke) ships bring back chests filled with stolen treasure and slaves in chains; Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) welcomes her husband warmly as he arrives home victorious over many lands; Fjölnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang), cursed by his bastard brother and mocked for it by Fool (Willem Dafoe), curses back at him but good-naturedly accepts his fate because he knows he has done something great.

Aurvandill decides that it is time for his beloved son Amleth to become a man through his rite of passage ceremony when suddenly treachery interrupts everything – during this distraction Fjölnir attacks his brother, takes the throne from him and steals away with beautiful wife; false-truthful servant lies about killing Amleth so now years later grown up Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) raids Slavic village together with raiding gang, overhearing that Fjölnir has fled to Iceland disguises himself among slaves being sold to Fjölnir where captured witch blonde Olga of Birch Forest recognizes him as an intruder.

Alexander Skarsgård is all beast here, half man even. Ultra-chiseled physique of his destroys enemies without mercy by any means necessary. Amleth even bites like animal this time around – rotting from inside out with venomous hatred towards uncle while waiting for right moment to strike back at him so deceives as slave in contrast to feral warrior that he is beaten, mocked and taunted by Fjölnir’s stupid men who don’t know better than thinking too high of themselves as slaves who are nothing but property anyway but their ignorance serves only fuel for more fury burning within already enraged heart of Amleth.

Supporting female cast provides much needed depth along with respite from testosterone overdose. Woman’s place is at man’s feet, there to serve his every whim – Nicole Kidman’s Queen Gudrún not just concubine passed between brothers; most interesting perspective belongs to her; slave women worked like horses could be violated at any time; Olga knows she is most physically attractive among them and uses her cunning wit against defilers which becomes valuable weapon alongside brute force displayed by Amleth.

Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) once again proves himself masterful when it comes down creating captivating worlds as director/co-writer on this film does not disappoint either: you can almost smell dirt mixed with blood intermingled upon icy winds blowing across shores where men have gone mad lusting after power only achievable through death

Norse folklore tells sections of The Northman. Gods have fated Amleth’s quest. As cut-scenes from the main story, his visions are also included in the movie. A radiant tree which reaches the sky is how Amleth sees his family line. He also prays to Odin for strength to bear his suffering with Robert Eggers contrasting religious imagery against the dirt of battles and servitude. The changes in lighting, surface texture, and depth are done brilliantly.

It is a gory movie indeed; as such it deserves an R rating. Robert Eggers delights in carnage. There is little left to the imagination after watching the realistic sword fighting scenes with blood spurting out of open wounds caused by skulls being smashed into brain pulp before heads roll off altogether so this should not be shown to kids or anyone who gets queasy easily.

Action fans won’t be disappointed either because they will get their fair share of excitement while watching The Northman on screen in all its glory but unfortunately my only complaint about what was otherwise visually stunning film lies within its script that lacked sophistication beyond typical unstoppable killing sprees where there isn’t any deviation from what one would expect so I hoped for more from it.

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