kunal’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Northman is a barbaric, Viking revenge tale that doesn’t necessarily deliver on that premise.
The film’s atmosphere is very moody yet visually striking. From gorgeous landscapes, small villages, and violent seas, Robert Eggers creates a truly realized nordic world. The action is brutal and primal, with the Vikings attacking one another like animals. Beyond these striking visuals, Eggers also succeeds in adding psychological/mythological elements (as expected based on his previous movies). Witches and ceremonies add to the lore and create some trippy visuals that will leave you mesmerized.
Alexander Skarsgard steals the show as Amleth, a Viking hellbent on saving his mother and avenging his father. Skarsgard completely sells it as a Viking with the heart of a beast, slashing and striking fear into any opponent that comes in his way.
The rest of the cast was decent, but some of the performances did pull me out of the movie. It could’ve been how the film was written in terms of the dialect, but some of the performances were a bit stiff.
In addition, the story’s pacing was incredibly off, with a huge lull in the second act. The movie starts off with high intensity but really slows down during the middle of the movie and picks up once again. The film’s second act puts the revenge story in the background, which is a bit questionable as they spend a bit too much time on other story beats in my opinion.
The Northman is a film that left me quite conflicted. On one hand, I really appreciated how artistic this blockbuster was and the risks Eggers took. On the other hand, I wasn’t a massive fan of the story’s route and did expect more out of it, especially because of how terrific the Lighthouse is. Nonetheless, I think the film is still enjoyable for its breathtaking visuals and high-octane Viking battles.