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The Northman review

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The Northman


R.             140 min


Vikings have been pretty popular folks over the last couple decades; books cable series movies Etc. with a little extra interest for those of us, probably most of us, with even a small amount of Scandinavian heritage so I was looking forward to seeing THE NORTHMAN. As a matter of fact, I went in cold, to the very first showing on Thursday evening with no knowledge of the plot except somebody is looking for revenge against the man that killed his father and absconded with his mother. Sounds like a reasonable story, right? Well Revenge is always a good subject so in I went. Usually a motion picture has to run for a few minutes before you start getting bad feelings about it, but not this one. Within the first 45 seconds of cheesy narration, I was thinking to myself this one is going to suck. And suck it did. And not just commonplace movie level suck, but so bad you occasionally laugh out loud suck.

And yet I didn't realize just how bad it was after the movie and I looked up a couple of the details. First of all, there are real people in this movie; actual actors not derelict off the streets of Iceland and Ireland, meaning people who really should know better. The cast includes Willem Dafoe Nicole Kidman Ethan Hawke and Icelandic pop star Bjork. The protagonist, Prince Amleth, is played by hulking Swede Alexander Skarsgard, who spends a great deal of his screen time butt naked or close to it. His mission, after twenty years as a Viking raider of the Slavic lands is to avenge the death of his father, the king, killed by an envious half-brother who also absconds with the boy's mother. The story itself comes from an ancient Scandinavian legend, which, like most Scandinavian legends has an air of darkness, futility and violence associated with it. After spending even more years as a slave and falling in love with a Slavic girl the prince will get his chance. The NORTHMAN is a disturbing, loud, and ultimately boring look at Robert Egger's idea of Viking Life in 800 something BC. Remember he's the writer director that treated us to THE LIGHTHOUSE which was slightly less violent but much crazier it's not quite as boring. His vision of the Vikings is of a nearly feral group who scream every word they say and spend their entire lives in a berserk stage. Maybe it would have been against Eggert's vision to add charisma to any of his characters but that's his decision, not mine. I found it both tedious and abrasive. But again, don't take my word for it, people who I don't consider pools that told me they liked it. Again, gang you’re on your own. Let me know if you disagree.




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