The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

The Night Blade Feeds

Not often really one to do the type of horny posting that gets thousands of likes on here, but I feel compelled to say that I would absolutely allow and actively want Alexander Skarsgard to do anything he wants with me. Anyway, The Northman is a rare movie where I can for certain say that I liked it quite a bit, but I was also disappointed by it in some way. Going into the film, there were three things I had heard about it that had me excited. One, it was Eggers' equivalent to a blockbuster while still keeping his distinct artsy style. Two, it's super bloody and gory, and in-line with that, every character is awful, leaving no room for the romanticizing of vikings by the worst people imaginable. Three, the story the film is based on was the direct inspiration for William Shakespeare's Hamlet, so this is indirectly Eggers doing Shakespeare. I think I can then dissect my overall feelings with The Northman based on those preconceived notions. First, yes, despite the increased budget and worries with how Eggers' style would remain intact knowing he did not get final cut, The Northman is through and through an Eggers film. You have animals to be suspicious of, there's a stock fart sound in a scene with Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy looks like a fairy, there's long takes up the wazoo, it's a movie of his alright. Second, while the film is absolutely filled with anger and intensity, and there's plenty of blood to go around where it's necessary, I was surprised by some of the violence and choreography feeling a little neutered. It was strange, I would have these moments where I would verbally react to the violence and then other moments where I would think "That should have sprayed more blood." I can only think of a few moments of outright gore, and I don't think anything here is as nasty as something like the final shot from The Lighthouse. I can at least happily report that this viking movie has its appropriate amount of raping and pillaging. Third, and finally, the strongest positive about the movie I can offer is how much I think it still confirms to me that Eggers is one of, if not possibly the best young filmmaker working right now in terms of sheer potential and vision. I now want to see him outright adapt Shakespeare, because I think that has the potential to offer up his next masterpiece. (Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream come to mind as the stories from the Bard that I think he would knock out of the park.) At its greatest peaks, The Northman is a furious if mostly straightforward revenge epic of viking myth and grim reality. Robert Eggers has a gift to transport his audiences back into the past with all of the dirt and blood dripping off of faces you can imagine. As much as I enjoy the wider allegories present in his earlier movies, I'm more than okay with this being for the most part a "vibe" fable of getting buff and wanting to kill a family member. Worth seeing for Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe looking like craft brewery guys that sometimes say the n-word barking and sniffing each other, and for now putting the name Claes Bang in my repertoire. The finale fight between him and Skarsgard leaves a (literally) smokey but heavily satisfying taste in your mouth when all is said and done, just like Shakespearean stories should. Again stating for the record that Eggers has this film thing down.

7.5/10

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