The Northman

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Wick's Review

Created May 31, 2022 12:47AM PST • Edited May 31, 2022 10:48PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Half a realistic Viking movie, half a bonkers Nordic fantasy, The Northman sets a new benchmark in late-first millennium historical-fiction movies, with plenty of intense action and a dollop of sex thrown in for good measure. While not for the faint of heart, it well rewards action-movie fans and history buffs alike.

    That said, it’s a mind-bender given that significant chunks of run-time occur in the hero’s head, including bizarre Scandinavian mythological visions. Hence, reality is often hard to separate from fantasy. However, such is the stuff of great moviemaking and The Northman is a great movie: both authentic and fantastic.

    If it seems more than a little Shakespearian, that’s because Hamlet was directly inspired by the legend of Amleth, the story The Northman revivifies. However, the more resonant cultural reference is Thor, a superpowered pop culture offshoot of such vainglorious Nordic legend, even if Marvel’s God of Thunder predates this benchmark movie by half a century. In both cases, it’s hammer time, or something like that.

  3. Great 4.0
    • Alexander Skarsgård’s Amleth, a Viking warrior prince, equals in extreme manliness his vine-swinger from The Legend of Tarzan. The man’s got abs for miles. It’d be fun to see Skarsgård compete in Nordic games against Chris Hemsworth, Marvel’s Thunder God himself.
    • Nicole Kidman classes up the production as his mother the Queen, an extreme character who evokes another Shakespearian creation – Lady Macbeth.
    • Claes Bang manifestly crushes the King Hell Villain role as Fjölnir the Brotherless, a man who will stop at nothing to wear the crown.
    • Anya Taylor-Joy jumps offscreen as a Slavic sorceress who bonds with Alexander Skarsgård.
    • Ethan Hawke opens the movie as King Aurvandill War-Raven, Amleth’s father and Fjölnir’s brother. Hawke is ideal in such a role of wistful manliness.
    • Gustav Lindh is hissably evil as Thorir the Proud, Fjölnir’s elder son and Amleth’s cousin
    • Willem Dafoe plays the Fool.
    • Björk appears as a Seeress, fitting since much of the movie is set in Iceland.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0
  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.5
  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Savage 3.7
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.2
  18. Surreal 2.1

    Realistic Viking movie doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t slip the surly bonds of reality, albeit not in great measure, notwithstanding often visualizing the lead character’s fantasies.

    Movie hocus-pocus aside, The Northman makes clear that slavery was the business of the Vikings. This white-on-white enslavement in the heart of Northern Europe occurred just a few hundred years prior to the export of chattel slavery to the New World, proving yet again that slavery is perhaps the world’s second oldest profession and one best considered within the full sweep of human history, the Nordics included.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.6
  20. Biological Glib 2.0
  21. Physical Glib 1.6

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