The Northman

The Northman ★★★

Going into this, I was hoping this might be the movie I've looking for. Some real barbarian Conan-ery from a director with some vision and balls. While I don't outright love The Witch or The Lighthouse, I absolutely respect them and wish there were more films of their ilk filling the multiplexes.
Robert Eggers is the real deal. So it's nice to see him given a bigger toolbox to play with (AKA: money) for this one.

The trailers make this out to be an incredible epic, which is sort of false advertising, as the second half basically takes place in a large farm. Which was my first disappointment.

My second disappointment was the single take action sequences. They, like most every single take-a-thon after Children of Men (the last one that impressed me or felt necessary, at least that comes to mind) felt unnecessary. Eggers would have been better off going the traditional route for the action scenes.

The choreography feels stagy, and unconvincing. And it isn't the stunt crew's fault. They have to rush up to Skarsgaard, stand there awkwardly while waiting to for the camera to move into the next position, and proceed to fall off camera while Skarsgaard swings in their general direction. It isn't visceral, just boring. Long roving single takes almost always distance rather than involve. Too much dead space where the edits should be. At least for me.
There are a few other action scenes that mercifully don't go the single take route, and they're much better.

But everything else here was right up my alley, fucking great! The vision sequences, just the overall merger of the supernatural and natural. The tone was granite hard, beautiful in it's stoic marble.

I see a lot of people saying Skarsgaard didn't have much to do, but I thought he was superb. Anya Taylor Joy and Nicole Kidman (a phenomenal actress) were standouts too.
And I think this is the most I've ever liked Ethan Hawke in... anything. And did I mention how much I dug the film's take on the supernatural?

From the Conanesque opening narration to the final frame, the film apologized for nothing, and was intensely its own.

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