The Northman

The Northman ★★★★★


Apparently Eggers had some trouble with the studio demanding this be cut down a bit, but that’s only visible in the opening 20 minutes which were likely originally 40. The inciting incident comes a little too early without enough time to truly learn about the inner machinations of King Ethan Hawke’s kingdom and style of ruling. Hints are there, the scene between Hawke and Kidman is well done and the moment when young Amleth bonds with his father in ritual is a wonderful psychedelic aside that perfectly sets the stage for The Northman’s themes going forward. Yet I wanted to care more about the King, showing scenes between the family that make the tragic loss truly tragic. Once The Berserker Raid starts however, in one of the best long takes probably ever put to cinema, The Northman doesn’t let up off the gas for the rest of the runtime, even in its slower moments. Every scene is packed to the brim with character, detail, grime, and BLOOD. So much visual splendor in every moment, it’s truly a miracle. Watching this across its breezy 2 hour and 17 minute runtime, I could scarcely believe it was made in the way that it was on this scale. There’s truly EPIC moments and sequences here that had my jaw on the floor and my head nodding with glee. And there’s an interesting story too! This isn’t as simple as “Viking Man gets revenge,” there’s a lot about society as savagery, humans as animals, and the lust for blood, steel and death, forging a more “Refined” class so you can act better than the bloodletting while still getting to enjoy the spectacle. I enjoy Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, but Robert Eggers’ The Northman is more my speed of period revenge fable. Everyone is great here, but special attention must be paid to Skarsgård’s outstanding physicality. Vengeance, violence, and trauma are crushing him, but he comes alive during any of the scenes he has with Anya Taylor Joy. He’s much gentler and cautious with her, which perfectly contrasts his bestial rage otherwise. There’s so much to love in The Northman, and everyone needs to see it. It has a climactic duel in a fucking volcano for God’s sake, it rules!

ZackKrenn liked this review