Monday, April 18, 2022

Movie Review: The Northman (2022)

Thanks to an online group I'm in getting perks, I was able to score early passes to see The Northman, much like I did Dune. And just like I did with Dune, you're getting an early film review out of it. :)

The Plot

In ancient Norse Ireland, King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) returns from raiding and slaving to his queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman) and young son Amleth (Oscar Novak). Treachery arrives with his brother Fjolnir (Claes Bang), leaving his son to flee and vow revenge. Years later Amleth (now played by Alexander Skarsgård) is a Viking raider pillaging in modern Russia, but a religion vision reminds him of his vow of revenge. Allying with the Slavic sorceress Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy), he sets off for the end of the world -- Iceland -- and a final confrontation with his uncle.

The Good

*The cinematography in this movie is simply beautiful. Even though the film is rather ponderous (more on that later), the film simply looks so good that it doesn't matter.

*The soundtrack is also marvelous. I don't claim to be a great expert on authentically Norse music, but it stylistically sounds a lot like the Scandinavian-themed and actually Scandinavian music I've found on YouTube, like the Norwegian band Wardruna.

*The film does an excellent job captured just how alien the pagan Norse are to modern Westerners. Lots of strange (and often bloody) rituals, hallucinogenic sequences, unrepentant violence, and eschewing common sense in favor of belief in Fate. From what I know about Norse history and culture, they get it all correct. The fact that it was co-written by the Icelandic poet Sjón no doubt helps quite a bit.

*The acting is generally good, particularly Bang's Fjolnir.

*There are some unexpected and creative plot twists.

The Bad

*The movie is rather slow-moving at times. It's even divided up into sequences with title cards, something I found objectionable in The Free State of Jones.

*Per the above, Skarsgård stares at the camera a lot. Although he's by no means a bad actor, he's one of the least interesting performers in the bunch.

The Verdict

Definitely worth seeing once. 8.0 out of 10.

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