Isaac Ezban’s review published on Letterboxd:
I WILL AVENGE YOU, FATHER!!!!!!
WOW!!!!!!!! Robert Eggers has made his most accessible film yet, but it's still very much an Eggers trip, and that's part of why I love and admire this masterpiece so much, its duality, how it stands in the middle of those 2 worlds: on one side of things, its simply a studio film (its a Vikings revenge story, with a plot that's quite close -some might even call generic- to thousands of revenge stories we´ve seen, with epic action and battles, with an A-list cast, with a lead that has a clear arc, and with a clear villain, a clear love interest, etc), but on another side, it's still a super imaginative, super crazy and elevated work of an artist that has managed to keep his vision intact even in a 70 million dollar movie... That is simply impressive. Those who have no idea who Robert Eggers is and just wanna see an entertaining revenge story, can buy their ticket and get exactly that... and those (like me) who want to see the vision of an artist on this level and scale of a film, will get what we want too... These are the films I call "middle ground cinema" (for being in the middle of those 2 worlds) and for me, that's the best kind of cinema there is!!!!
The film is a monumental filmmaking achievement, and stunning in every aspect: from its brilliant and unbelievable execution (that one-shot battle scene! and how most of the fights are choreographed and set... Eggers knows how to direct the hell out of a movie, his filmmaking is on another level of greatness!!!), to its beautiful visuals (the epic revenge story set across such impressive landscapes definitely makes me think of THE REVENANT more than any other film), to its incredible cast, and its haunting music score... but the most impressive thing for me is still, like I said, the way Eggers preserves his vision even in this scale of a movie, his style is all over the film.
And what is his style? For me, mostly, the way he combines perfectly accurate period stories (with impeccable attention to every little detail of the period, from every small aspect of the production design to even the way the people speak) with a supernatural element of that specific period or setting (just like in THE WITCH he scared us with witchcraft folk tales, in THE LIGHTHOUSE he blew our minds with supernatural sailor legends of mermaids, monsters and more, and now he takes us to Viking heaven Valhalla with all the incredible supernatural elements of the Vikings mythology). For me, that outstandingly strange combination of such realistic period depiction that still dares to play with the supernatural, is what makes his style so exciting and unique, whether it's set in a horror movie or an epic revenge story.
This beautiful ride has so many great details that my mind has yet to analyze (even from the casting choices like, for example, why call Ethan Hawke for just the opening 10 minutes but then give the villain role to an almost unknown? For me, it's for the audience to remember the father figure of our protagonist more fondly throughout the whole film). I can´t wait to watch it again and I can´t wait to see what Eggers does next.
Together with THE GREEN KNIGHT (and perhaps others), this film has even created a new genre which I shall call: ELEVATED MEDIEVAL!!! Elevated because, as I said, the filmmaking is on another level!!!
My favorite film of 2022 so far, and my favorite from Eggers yet (which is saying a lot, as the 3 of them are 5-star masterpieces, but I still place this one higher in his almost-impossible-to-rank filmography)