The Northman

The Northman ★★★

Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur is one of my favorite epics of the past twenty years, yet everyone else seems to hate it. It has the action, it has the characters you want to see, it has the romance, it has the dope ass Hans Zimmer score. It is fun. It takes risks.

Risks is the key word I am at, thinking about The Northman right now. While watching tonight I thought of Fuqua's film a lot, and kept hoping the Eggers movie would become as fun. I'll never forget seeing The Witch in theaters. It was so bold, so distinctive in style. It was a classic witch story, but its authenticity was so hard to turn away from. The Lighthouse is also fresh and daring. Two amazing actors took Eggers' second project up a notch, and left us with one of the most original movies of 2019. Some auteur shit for real.

While The Northman is a good movie, I am disappointed because of how much I enjoyed Eggers' last two projects. The style is still there, but something about the film lacks the life and realness that his other works have. The risks are gone. The acting is fine, and I have nothing against the talents of Alexander Skarsgård. Anya Taylor-Joy is just kind of there, which I am shocked to say because she is one of my favorite actresses. And possibly my celebrity crush. The project seems well researched, and the cinematography is awesome. No doubt. But where is the fun in this movie? I was really hoping, and I have to admit, expecting this film to cement Eggers as a legitimate 21st century auteur. Not that that is now an impossibility, but I must say I feel let down.

At its best the film is some Wolfgang Peterson or Ridley Scott level epic, with beautiful landscape shots and overall amazing attention to detail. But at its worst it reminds of that CGI Beowulf movie that Robert Zemeckis did in '07. And that is a shame.

*Seen at Harper Theater in Chicago, IL

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