The Northman (2022)

northman poster 2022 review
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, solid cast

The story is an old one and difficult to reinvent

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Northman

Studio:  New Regency Productions/Universal Pictures/Focus Features

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  April 1, 2022 (Premiere)/April 15, 2022 (UK)/April 22, 2022 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

northman seeress bjork

Do you chase your destiny or does your destiny chase you?

Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) idolized his father King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke).  As a child, Amleth witnessed the murder of his father by his father’s bastard brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang) and his mother Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) taken by him.  Amleth fled and vowed revenge as he joined a group of Viking berserkers.  Amleth is given a vision of his future from a seeress (Björk), and Amleth learns of Fjölnir’s new location in Iceland.  Amleth is set on revenge, and making himself a slave, Amleth teams with another prisoner named Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) to complete his promise to his father.

Written and directed by Robert Eggers (with additional writing by Sjón), The Northman is a Viking adventure drama.  The film is an adaptation of the story of Amleth which is a medieval Scandinavian legend.  The film released to positive reviews but underperformed at the box office.

Eggers has impressed in his few projects.  They are atmospheric, they have strong acting, and they are very visual.  The ideas behind The Northman are intriguing, but the story that goes with it does show some fractures.

northman nicole kidman alexander skarsgard

Mother of the Year Award

The story of Amleth has been adapted so many times that it is hard to make it different.  Hamlet is an adaptation of the story and as one of the most known and performed Shakespeare plays, it is hard to provide any surprises about the characters and the story’s path.  Unlike a straight telling of Hamlet, the story has a Macbeth twist to it that tries to build more story involving Queen Gudrún and Fjölnir, and the fact that Fjölnir has already lost his kingdom…and Amleth is fighting for essentially a non-issue.  He cannot regain his kingdom…it is a straight vow and a quest for revenge.

The cast is strong.  Alexander Skarsgård is a solid lead as the ruthless Amleth who is trying to complete his promise, but who also doesn’t understand the nuances of why his father ended up dead.  Claes Bang is a solid “villain” who has his own world to fight.  Nicole Kidman is a Lady Macbeth-esque icy queen who has her own quest for vengeance.  The movie underuses Anya Taylor-Joy, and Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe have very small roles.  Björk has one of her few acting roles as the Seeress…it is a small role but effective.

northman volcano final fight amleth vs fjolnir

I was less concerned about the outcome of the fight but more concerned that one of them would accidentally step in lava

Part of what makes a small role like the Seeress is Eggers’ visuals.  The movie looks great.  It has a mix of surreal (and horrific) visions with the violence of a barbarian culture.  It has a great setting and look of the land.  It was set in Iceland, but largely shot in Northern Ireland (with some scenes shot in Iceland).  It is visual and dynamic…and a completely different look than Eggers’ other films.

The Northman is an action-adventure film that relies heavily on the drama of the situation.  The movie borrows from some of the ideas of Conan the Barbarian and walks that line with all characters being flawed in their convictions…in some senses the hero of the movie is the villain.  It is slow and paced, and not a straight action picture or a drama.  The Northman feels big and epic which is always impressive, and Eggers proves again that he’s a director to follow and hopefully continues to develop.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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