Movie Review: The Northman

3/5 (Rating criteria at bottom)

This review may contain spoilers

Movie Content Advisory: Blood, gore, lots of animal death.

It’s Scandanavian Hamlet.

The Northman was a very cool experience. I applaud the crew behind the visual look and visual storytelling. Seeing this movie felt a lot like experiencing an old fable where you know how it will end but the captivating journey of the character keeps you glued to your seat.

I really enjoyed myself, and I’m as always very impressed with what Robert Eggers can do with a movie. I’ve been a fan of his prior works, The Lighthouse and The Witch, both of which really impressed me with their bleak atmosphere. Is it just me or is there a naming scheme coming out of this?

I’m sure it’s in an interview or in their production notes but I got the idea that this movie was a little like Hamlet but turned on its head a bit. The character dynamics were very similar. Even the main character’s name is reminiscent of the name “Hamlet” with “Amleth.” I mean really, look at that name. It’s clearly Hamlet but with the H on the end of the name.

I think if it weren’t clearly a subversion of the Hamlet story I might be a little more irritated with certain storytelling choices. There was another theater watcher who, as soon as the credits started, stood up and said to his friend “That’s the worst movie I’ve seen.”

Ah, my friend, you were a victim to your expectations! I think the trailer told a very minute version of the story it was telling and if you took the trailer at face value, which is kinda what you can do with Marvel movies and some other big blockbusters then you might think you were getting sold a different story. I have a very love/hate relationship with trailers (please note my complaint with Morbius) and sometimes it’s easy to tell when the trailer is trying to give away just enough and when the trailer is giving nothing. The Northman trailer gave very little. In fact, I believe most of what you see in the trailer is before Amleth even starts on his “journey.” Along with some choice imagery like the Valkyrie.

The trailer made it seem like Amleth was going to take back his kingdom, but rather he’s taking back his honor which are executed in very different ways. This is a revenge story which means this is about the one-on-one clash of people against people, not a person against a kingdom.

All in all, the movie told its story very well. It might be one of those films I need to see a second or third time to really get the whole vision of the filmmaker but I’m not in a rush to see it again. I kinda want to keep thinking about what I saw, to digest the message of what happened to this character to take his revenge.

Not gonna lie, I kinda wish he kept his long hair throughout the movie, but at the same time, I understand the symbolic nature of the choppy chop.

Rating criteria

(Keep in mind that the rating is not a reflection of its objective quality but rather how often I would like to experience the story again)

0 – Refuse to watch again

1 – Might watch again (under duress)

2 – I could stand to see it again (neither here nor there about it)

3 – I would be happy to watch it again! Might even seek it out on purpose.

4 – I will watch it again, multiple times, before the year is out.

5 – I will watch it multiple times and attempt to coerce my friends (and random strangers) into seeing it too.

+ 💿 if I plan to buy the physical media.

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