The Northman Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Robert Eggers is part of a group of unique filmmakers who grabbed the film industry’s attention with his first feature The Witch in 2015, the film which also introduced the world to the incredibly talented Anya Taylor-Joy. Something which then got him the budget to make a bizarre unique psychological horror, The Lighthouse with big stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. His unique psychological style for his films has film fans excited anytime his name is put with a film such early on in his career, so when he is given an even bigger budget to work with more big stars in a Viking revenge tale it’s going to make people sit up and pay attention.

The Northman follows Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard), a man who is out for revenge against the man who killed his father, the king (Ethan Hawke) making him flee for his life, training to get revenge when the time is right.

Yes, when it comes down to it this is a revenge tale, something we’ve seen multiple times down the years. So what does Eggers bring that makes this unique? The viking aspect is going to be a big draw for people. A brutal time to be alive means this film was never going to be short on blood, something this film doesn’t shy away from. Some over the top brutality and gore gives it a realistic tone, and feels like we are watching a true story. The level of detail in production design and costume is extremely impressive, it’s clear that Eggers and his crew spent a lot of time and effort to research as much as they could.

The cast pull out good performances, I’ve never seen Alexander Skarsgard particularly blown me away. His best performance for me was in Big Little Lies (where he plays a wealthy man who is married to Nicole Kidman, who plays his mum in this film), and being Swedish makes him a perfect choice to play a Viking ahead of most other people working in the industry, and particularly close to the stories that he would’ve been taught about in school. His performance does the job for this film, he’s a man on a mission, nothing particularly challenging, but he works well alongside the bigger actors in the film, particularly the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicole Kidman who all help boost him.

I wish we would’ve got to see more of Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe who aren’t in the film for longer than 10 minutes maximum, especially after we got such a strong performance from Dafoe in Eggers previous film, The Lighthouse.

The film is beautifully made, technically near perfect in many many ways with some beautiful shots and unique, and fun set pieces where the talented crew are flexing, to make this a true Viking epic.

If I was to poke holes in the film, at times the dialogue was difficult to understand and follow, along with a character mumbling made it difficult to make out what was going on, especially when the character’s head was also hung and covered in hair so we can’t even have the help of seeing their mouth.

Overall, The Northman is Eggers continuing to prove to people why he is working with so many talented people and quickly becoming one of the most unique working directors that talented actors are desperate to work with. Eggers style works perfectly in this beautifully shot, but simple Viking revenge film. I’m excited to see what he does next, and if it is his seemingly cursed, Nosferatu adaptation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What did you think of The Northman?

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