The Northman

The Northman ★★★

Another one of these. A loose collection of great moments that can’t come together in form because it’s trying to do lots of great moments instead of building a film. The biggest barrier to Valhöllic transcendence here is that all the dialogue between the moments sounds like it’s being triggered by the push of your controller’s A button - having a character say “I want to kill you” when they’re already pointing a sword at someone is usually the hyper-literal literary reserve of the video game, but here it’s deployed to such a ridiculous extent that I have to assume there was some ulterior purpose. Sometimes the direct verbosity works as a kind of demented Villiam Shäkespearr play; sometimes it feels only a few syllables away from “Amleth, use the TRIANGLE button to do a HEAVY ATTACK!”. Unsurprised to find out there was an Icelandic writer rowing the boat - visit the Icelandic Punk Museum in Reykjavik and you will see plaques with pagan poetry like “People make music to express their feelings”and “Punk music was made by people who were angry”.

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