The Northman [Grade: 91.6%]

Director: Robert Eggers

Story By: Sjón & Robert Eggers

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Claes Bang, Nicole Kidman, & Ethan Hawke

* * *

A straightforward revenge story set in medieval times. It did what it was supposed to do. 

* * *

Theme & Story: A-

Pacing: A-

Character: A

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Interesting Enough

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Worth the $$

Viking Action / Adventure Fans: Worth the $$

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. A boy who watches a family member murder his father grows up with only revenge on his mind and heart. 

This is The Northman.

Thematically, it’s a pretty typical focus on “revenge” and the idea of fighting fire with fire resulting in a solid execution. 

Act One did what it was supposed to do for me—it set up the key characters, and laid the foundation for the theme. 

Act Two was interesting. The first quarter of Act Two didn’t quite stick with the theme as explicitly for me, but I knew it was connected via our main character’s expression of trauma through his life choices. However, I appreciated how Act Two quickly merges what we see at the start of the Act with its role for the theme during the last 2/3s of the film through our character’s interaction with prophecies. 

Act Three was the most blatantly aligned to the theme to me with not only bringing our main character and his target together, but with every move and statement literally tied to the main character’s plan for vengeance, ending with a dark and intensely beautiful visual of that “fighting fire with fire” idea. 

It was quite strong. 

I will say the only issue I had was that I think the amount of prophecies started to get a little messy around the later half of Act Two. I was okay with Ravens and animals… but then the dead swordsman under the hill on a ship? Maybe it was to also indicate he was going mad? Not sure, but I just felt too many creative liberties were taken. They were visually beautiful, though. 🤷🏾‍♂️

2. I really loved the cinematography choice to shoot the night in what seemed to be Black and White with only intentional colors… 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

3. I guess Queen Gudrún did give those vibes early on, huh?🤔

4. Wait, that was Björk!? Dang! Hey, girl! 👍🏾

5. In terms of thematic followthrough, Alexander Skarsgård’s character was perfect to me. I loved how the writing just let him carry the story without taking too many complex detours. 

Anya Taylor-Joy was also well used with carrying out the theme as this disruption / glitch to the character Amleth’s driven heart and mind for revenge—the typical trope. This was same with Nicole Kidman’s character. 

I enjoyed Claes Bang’s portrayal of Fjölnir, especially his final Act which was such a literal connection with the theme.  

Outside of thematic followthrough, I was impressed with Alexander Skarsgård. Honestly, the man has such a nice range of performances. Do I think this one is Oscar worthy? Eh, not really. The last few minutes of the film definitely stand out to me, but the writing doesn’t really give him too much to work with in my opinion. 👍🏾👍🏾

6. Whew Chile…what in the neanderthal Quidditch! Is that how Rugby started? 🫢🫣

7. To piggyback off point #2, the frame of Amleth and Olga naked in the woods—beautiful! Very [white perspective] Adam and Eve, but beautiful. 👍🏾

8. I don’t know why, but Gustav Lindh’s portrayal of Thórir the Proud gave me Viking Paris Hilton… 🤷🏾‍♂️😅😅😂

9. The Northman has a runtime of about 127 minutes, and I didn’t really “feel it” until a few minutes into Act Three. And it wasn’t a frustrated realization, but there was a moment  that annoyed me with Amleth and the story when the “reveal” is made, and I was like… “why!?” This man talked all this stuff, and THIS happens? Because of “that” one observation? It just felt dragged out for no reason…in addition to the “over-adding” of the prophecy elements. 🤷🏾‍♂️

10. Claes Bang’s back and booty, baby! 😜

* * *

Overall #TheNorthman gives Lion King – meets The Green Knight – meets The Sword in the Stone: A King Arthur Legend- meets The Prince of Egypt – meets Dune – meets The Tragedy of Macbeth – meets Arya’s story in Game of Thrones. 

Come though Alexander Skarsgård! I was really impressed with him. The film overall was solid, and shout out to the overall cinematography and visual effects. My goodness! 

I did have a moment where I found myself saying to myself for some reason, “I still prefer The Last Duel.” Not sure why, but that’s what came to mind. 

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