If kneeled primal screams of sworn vengeance are your thing, then The Northman has you covered.
The latest movie from breakout director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) is a chest thumping, blood pumping, mythic tale of Nordic gnarled men and magical or manipulative women.
Drawing from Norse mythology, The Northman is a self-proclaimed Viking epic that is stamped with all of Eggers’ visual flair.
The usual Hamlet stylings of angst and revenge are littered with such mythical qualities as a sword that can only be drawn when the time is right, a he-witch burrowed within a decrepit barn, and prophesied future leaders growing within the womb of someone of lower birth.
What Is The Northman About?
Alexander Skarsgård brings the brooding, bloodthirst, and – let’s face it – beautiful body to The Northman.
After his happy but precarious childhood as a prince is ripped out from under him he returns as an adult: a sweat and mud smeared common berserker.
All well and good and epic. It’s therefore a surprise that the result is a lumpen film that stretches and contracts its pacing unevenly throughout.
Despite the steam evaporating from his chiselled frame, Skarsgård retains an element of that childhood betrayal and delivers a compellingly vulnerable performance.
Even so, he screams around the event horizon of a film so occupied with giving each moment gravity that the spirit of itself struggles to break free.
Adult Amelth, once repointed towards vengeance, hunts down the slayer of his family (Claes Bang, Bad Sisters) and stealer of his mother (Nicole Kidman).
At first he ingratiates himself within their slave stock thanks to excellent performance in the most violent game of sort-of-Rugby you’ve ever seen.
Enamoured with slave girl Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Menu) – who claims to be a sorceress – Amleth slowly accumulates the mythical tools and timing he will need to exact his revenge.
The Northman Official Trailer
Is The Northman Worth Watching?
The plot may be fighting against a gravity well but Eggers’ eye for stunningly enthralling visuals is a strong as ever.
The recurring aspect of flame blooms through the screen with swamp like red hues, and Björk’s blind whispering seeress delivers prophecies whilst adorned in a frame filling headdress and headband bejewelled with stones that glow like eyes.
Although missing the ‘weird’ factor of his previous output, the combination of huge cinematography with an otherworldly soundscape (composed by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough) makes for a broiling and powerful experience, where each moment seems more humongous than the next.
The Northman does feel like Eggars has shaved off his spikey avant-garde side to make his Viking movie as accessible as possible.
No-one can blame him – the budget for The Northman was much higher than his previous movies – but in doing so it is more than the characters who have to drag their feet through the mud before collapsing at the feet of godly awe.
Words by Mike Record
Get ready for non-stop entertainment with access to thousands of popular movies and TV shows, including award-winning Amazon Originals. Plus, enjoy the convenience of FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items. With the ability to watch anywhere and cancel anytime, you'll never have to worry about being tied down. So why wait? – Join Now
30-day free trial available.