The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

Robert Eggers relinquishes his customary jerk-off sessions with his mermaid figurine collection to go a little hinga-dinga-durgen in honor of Leaf Erickson Day with his latest flick, The Northman.

The Northman is director Robert Eggers' third feature film, following the critically acclaimed works of The VVitch and The Lighthouse. It's also worth noting that this is Eggers' first film that hasn't been distributed by A24, the independent studio behemoth that handled his last two projects.

So there are no "A24 vibes" here; instead, the picture is presented by New Regency, which co-financed Eggers' last project, The Lighthouse. And Focus Features, a Universal Studios subsidiary committed to creating films with a more artsy bent side, joins with New Regency on this project, bringing Eggers' artistic vision to life.

To make a long story short, the convergence of these two studio shenanigans has led to the birth of a new Eggers project, with an estimated budget of $70 million, making it the director's most expensive picture to date. In a film that ends up being the director's weakest film to date, and not for the reasons I anticipated, as I'll explain later.

"But wait, there's more," as Billy Mays would say. Not only that but the picture is set in a genre that is rarely successfully greenlit when pitched to any of the major studios these days, which adds to my dissatisfaction with it.

But, hello, it has nude guys fighting on screen in it, Mike, which is one of the most surreal things to see on screen throughout the entire medium of film when it occurs to its full extent. Is it just me, or am I the only one to notice that this is the second Focus Features film to feature this shit after Eastern Promises? That's not to say I haven't seen it done in films other than these two. Women in Love by Ken Russell jumps to mind immediately too. And, in the case of the film, I honestly can't recall much else about that movie than for the one scene in which the two main characters wrestled nude with each other for some reason.

Hold on just a second; I need to catch my imaginary writer's breath before proceeding. Okay, now that I've recovered, you're probably asking yourself why I'm bothering to go into too much detail on the film's overabundance of nude guys fighting than it is currently necessary for me to right now. Well, hello again, and thank you for thinking of me. But no, I'm bringing this up because it makes me laugh to think that Eggers purposefully chose not to include any full-frontal nudity shots exposing Skarsgard's whole package during any of his on-screen male nudity fights that occurred in the film.

Like some part of me wonders whether Eggers thought that if he did, he'd have folks shouting at the top of their lungs at every showing of his film, encouraging our main character to "grab his dick and twist it" of the film's main villain. And then, as all of this was going on, another audience member would yell in unity, "yeah, twist his dick."

Okay, allow me to take another quick imaginary pause for a moment. I'm starting to think that this review section should have stayed in my notes. But I'm already too deep in my rage. So I'll say that I'm disappointed by Eggers' decision to leave this out of his film. Consider the following: Wouldn't you want to go as far as you could if you had the chance to put this in your movie? You say no, but Cronenberg did it, and look at him. He made a movie about people getting off on car accidents, for God's sake. The dude knows his stuff.

Now, let's go on to the second part of my review, which covers everything else about the film. I suppose the focus of my review should shift to a more serious tone when it comes to these things at this point in time, considering it also has a lot of fantastic stuff to talk about, despite all of my shortcomings.

In any case, The Northman, warts and all, is a film full of extraordinary moments. Damn it; I've already messed up, lmao. Okay, I'm serious now. So pretty much across the board, Mr. Eggers' picture here is an incredibly well-directed film with a plethora of great performances from the whole cast.

Oh, dammit, I just thought of another humorous joke that is too fantastic not to share, so disregard everything I just said about myself and cease cracking jokes.

So, being that the star of this film's father was nude in Lars Von Trier's movie Breaking the Waves, the joke was supposed to be a "Like Father, Like Son" jest between Alexander and his father, Stellan. But, because there were simply too many actors in this movie with whom I could have linked to this joke too that worked with him (Trier), I felt like this joke had already died. I mean, one person's connection to a film comes from someone in one of their films before, but five? Because of that, many cast members need to be brought up. So forget it.

Nevertheless, please forgive me if my transitions in this review are a little sloppier than usual. So, to make things easy, I'll go bring out my imaginary farm animal spinner random wheel, but instead of me rotating it, so it points to random farm animals, let's now all spin to a few lucky cast members, shall we?

I'll let you know ahead of time that I'll only do three rotations.

1st Spin (The Cow Goes Moo) That's Anya Taylor-Joy for you: Joy is quite good here. She is somewhat serviceable, but not in a bad way. The girl is clearly like Eggers, a full-on ride or die at this point in her life.

2nd Spin (The Duck Goes Quack) That's Nicole Kidman: In this film, Kidman provides one of her best performances in a long time. She was so fantastic in one sequence, almost so much, that I was practically holding my breath the entire time I watched it. And once you've watched the movie, you'll know which scene I'm referring to the second it begins.

3rd Spin (The Sheep Goes Bah) Okay, that's Willem Dafoe: Dafoe is sparse in this film. In a classic Lighthouse manner, farts and dog roleplaying occur in his sequences, most of which occur in the first 15 minutes of the film. Also, I think Eggers is into that sort of thing, lol.

Okay then, so before I conclude, I'd like to address my two major issues with the picture.

The first was that I believed the violence was not as impactful as it could have been. Perhaps I've been spoiled by films like The Last Duel, which includes, in my view, one of the best deaths in a movie in the last ten years. Nonetheless, the film's violence and action scenes were dull to me here. Please accept my apologies for saying this, Eggers; everything seemed like it might have come straight from a Game of Thrones episode. I wasn't expecting Valhalla Rising-level terrain, but you could have given me a bit more rawness and brought it out here artistically. Perhaps if Iárritu hadn't directed The Revenant a few years earlier, I might have been more forgiving. Still, the dude should have strived to construct more moments like the spear kill near the film's opening; that stuff was tremendous.

The second and more surprising issue for me was that I didn't find the film's narrative approach compelling in contrast to Eggers' previous two films. The film's prominent narrative framework was relatively safe to follow, making it less exhilarating to watch. Additionally, the film's narrative is based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, which does not help matters. The most well-known revenge story in media history is usually recognized in works of literature. All of this might be because, based on Eggers' previous two films, the narrative technique he chose here was not what I expected.

Nonetheless, I'm not going to linger on it too much. I'm a nincompoop. If the film had become too abstract, I would have probably complained about that instead.

To summarize, while The Northman is a stunning film that offers a one-of-a-kind experience, I believe it is Eggers' worst effort to date. 

Even with that, this does not imply that what he has done here is a horrible film, in my opinion. In the end, it's still a beautifully crafted effort on his part that will be a highly valuable asset in his filmmaking armory for many years to come.

Furthermore, despite having made three wonderful films, I feel Eggers has yet to reach the pinnacle of his profession and deliver his magnum opus. From my perspective, the guy hasn't even come close to accomplishing this, which is a positive because it means he's become better for it.

But, hey, keep in mind that I was first introduced to all things Viking at the age of three by viewing the Rugrats Vacation special on an orange VHS, in which the Rugrats visited a Viking-themed hotel in Vegas, so draw your own conclusion; you'll probably like it better than I did.

Still, I'm sorry, Mr. Eggers, and I'll doodle let me go now of all my critiques.

Finally, can you believe I'll be 24 in a week? I thought I'd bring it up now because I won't be publishing any reviews until Doctor Strange arrives on May 6th. To be honest, I haven't decided what I'll do on my birthday. My brother wants to take me on a Boston pub crawl. Whereas my father, shit, I shouldn't even say this, wants to take me to my strip club for some reason (he tried to do it with me before Covid). It's the local one where Adam Sandler's masterpiece "That's My Boy" was filmed, so there's that. Still, I doubt I'd want to go to one with him.

But, as for what I want to do, all I can say is that right now, all I want to do is eat my yearly overpriced ice cream cake alone in peace, weep a bit, and listen to some Enya music and shit.

So thank you again for taking the time to read this, and please know that everything you say and do on this site means the world to me. This marks the longest review I have ever made on this site. And I want you all to know that I love reading all your stuff and seeing everyone's passion here.

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