Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Gustav Lindh, Björk, Willem Dafoe
Written By: Robert Eggers, Sjón
Directed By: Robert Eggers
Studio: Universal / Focus Features
Buy On Amazon.com
The Northman was on my radar once I knew Robert Eggers directed it. The trailer had this Braveheart epic feel to it so I was intrigued. The movie is a mix of Hamlet, the Lion King, The Green Knight, and Braveheart. It’s weird, brutally violent and if you love revenge films, this is for you!
The film takes place in AD 895, King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) prepares his young son, Prince Amleth (younger version is Oscar Novak, older is Alexander Skarsgård), to take over his throne. That plan goes in the craphole when the King’s bastard brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang) kills him and tries to kill Amleth. He escapes and years later, becomes a berserker for a Viking clan. He finds out that Fjölnir was defeated by Harald of Norway and living in Iceland with his family including Amleth’s mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) . He vows to get his revenge, rescue his mother and fulfill his destiny. Along the way he meets Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) who’s been captive with him and falls in love with her, while still having revenge on his mind.
Robert Eggers came onto my radar with the extremely weird but beautifully directed The Lighthouse. I never saw the Witch, not yet anyway. I’m like, this guy is doing a big budget looking epic type of movie? I’m in! There’s certainly plenty of weirdness and indie vibes to the movie, especially with Eggers’s signature black screen/white text transitions. I think part of the weirdness is based on the Scandinavian folklore that is wrapped up in this story. Hearing the cast and crew talk about the folklore from those countries, things are clearer than how it was presented in the movie.
I thought the movie might be a bit different but it was still quite enjoyable seeing Alexander Skarsgård’s character killing a ton of people. For those that might be squeamish, this is brutal, violent, and sometimes not easy to watch. Alexander Skarsgård is a no-brainer to lead this role, given that he’s Swedish, tall, and has abs of steel. After the movie 300 came out, guys were trying to copy Gerard Butler’s body. Now they will be saying I want the Northman body to personal trainers. The rest of the actors were good, obviously Nicole Kidman delivered a strong performance in her role, as well as Anya Taylor-Joy. Anya, along with Dafoe and some others are some returning actors in Eggers’s movies. Ethan Hawke wasn’t in the movie that much but I was still waiting for him to talk about Ammit… Maybe I’m just so used to it in Moon Knight.
The Blu-ray contains a bunch of featurettes, more than I was anticipating. There’s deleted scenes, a bunch of featurettes on the story, the acting, certain fight sequences and other things about the film. The deleted scenes had a few more from Hawke, Kidman and Dafoe, who were slightly under-used in my opinion. Kidman had the most out of that group with screen time though. It was great to hear the passion about this film from Eggers, Skarsgård and the rest of the cast and crew. Skarsgård has been waiting for 30 years to make a proper viking movie. I always liked The 13th Warrior despite its many problems, it did have a lot of badass vikings in it. They filmed the majority of the movie in Northern Ireland, which brought the elements of course. It was too expensive to film the entire thing in Iceland, believe it or not. I guess Game of Thrones made it too pricey to film there.
They don’t usually make movies like this too much anymore. I’m surprised it got the marketing push behind it since it just seems like it’s big budget action or superhero movies in theaters these days. It’s nice to see studios still care about making intriguing and different types of movies like this one. Will everyone like this? No, but it’s definitely got some great things going for it. Viking badasses, the direction and cinematography are excellent, the score is very fitting for it, the acting is good and it has just the right balance of weirdness and action to make this one to circle back around to watch every so often.
Deleted And Extended Scenes
An Ageless Epic
The Faces Of Vikings
Feature Commentary With Co-Writer/Director Robert Eggers
Amleth’s Journey To Manhood
Shooting The Raid
A Norse Landscape
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.00:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.00:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital Plus 2.0
Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)
English SDH, French, Spanish
Bottom Line: The Northman is the viking Hamlet (or The Lion King) except there’s no vikings singing “Hakuna Matata.”
Running Time: 137 mins