Max Ahoy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dang the life action Vinland Saga is pretty cool.
Vinland Saga is a marvelous anime that has one of the most compelling stories and characters I’ve seen in media for quiet sometime and would I’d recommend it to anyone, not just weebs. Ok back to Alex Sweetsgard.
After his second feature film being an indie hit and mind juggling fuckery for the masses, Robert Eggers returns but this time with the backing of a bigger studio (kinda), bigger budget and bigger names with his violent Viking venture, The Northman. Based upon the story that would inspire Hamlet that would go in to inspire The lion king, that would inspire Vinland Saga, and would inspire many other books, podcast probably and a bunch of copy cats. Anyways it’s a very familiar story that if you haven’t heard about then get out from the cave you’ve been sleeping in. Back to the topic of this review the story of the film in opinion takes a neat twist that I feel may or may not have been international.
It’s a rage filled, hate filled and blood soaked revenge tale that doesn’t shy away from how grueling and vile the beefy brutes were. The world of which our characters inhabit is one of unforgiving brutality and heartache as loved ones are slayed at random and innocents means nothing, no one’s safe. Not even royalty as the ones who are rich are the living. While the world of The Northman is better fleshed out than most it does feel as though it’s not the central focus rather a damp backdrop for our protagonist Amleth or as my brother and I heard Omelet. Omelet has nothing but blind rage for his father’s murder who happens to be his uncle Fjolnor.
It’s narrow minded narrative nature is both its biggest strength and its Achilles heel. The way in which the story it solely told through the eyes of a blood hungry man looking to right the wrongs of the past makes everything surrounding him kinda bare and a lil bit hollow. I say this cause there are bits of interesting character interactions but for the most part I don’t remember much of their presences. This distant and the feeling of being shut off from everyone around you helps to show Omelets idiotic and petty mind set as to what his life goal is despite having various chances to leave the past behind him. Of course as for most of these stories go we know how it eventually concludes. But I with my positives for the way in which the story is told, let’s go to the negatives. A fair chunk of emotional scenes hold the weight of River stone. I don’t believe this is the fault of Eggers but that of studio interference which yes is to be expected but they’ve already given him massive creative freedom with some of the weird trippy shit. The final battle has to naked men burning their ass hairs off and flopping their sausages from thigh to thigh while cutting and beating down on one another. I don’t know what would have happened if he was given total control but I do feel as though the emotional beats would’ve been enhanced given his previous works being incredibly character driven. But it’s a grander story but still this lack of emotion ends up leaving scenes like our main characters becoming intimate with one another feeling as cold and itchy as the wet leaves their desecrating.
While my complaints for the film haven’t changed since I’ve seen it I do have to admit it has become better as I’ve let it settled. The presentation is immaculate and authentic, the performances are hooking and inaudible, and the weirdness of the film is a welcome change for a big budget studio film and it crossing my fingers that this does well enough to prove that weird shit isn’t just shit. I prefer The Green Knight over this and wilder say that if there weren’t any similarities better the two and their is if you’ve seen them then you’ll probably see the connections. That didn’t have to do with anything aside from me noticing. *ahem* anyways that’s about all I have to say other than I would recommend that you go give this a go cause it’s a pretty beautiful spectacle to witness on the big screen. Robert Eggers didn’t give into the big meanie studio and got his voice out. Hell ya!