By: Justin Hopkins
I went into this movie pretty blind. Running mostly off the trailer. Knowing only very little about Vikings. Only time I have heard the word Northman, was in Hellblade. Nevertheless, the trailer did more then enough to go out and see it opening night. Now, multiple days later, since I needed some time to really think about it, and lose track of days, lets dive in and discuss shall we.
(Blogger Note. A lot of names here have accents. I tried to figure out how to type them, but everything I found did not work. So, my apologies for not spelling your names with the necessary accents.)
After a brief bit of narration, the movie gets started with a young boy, Amleth, seeing his Father, The King, and his men returning to the village. After a successful battle. Racing to tell his Mom and they greet him on arrival. After the celebrations, we see the King had been badly injured. Seeing his time is near. Wanting to die in battle, but also needing to prepare his Son to succeed him. Against her wishes, he takes him to perform a ritual. Bottling his last tear, and swearing to avenge him if he were to fall. Which happens the next day, when a band of men, led by his uncle kills him and tries to kill Amleth. Managing to escape when he cuts off the nose of one of his pursuers. Making it back to the village. Witnessing more of his Uncle’s men killing people, and in his perspective; Kidnap his Mom to be his Uncle’s Queen. When the noseless guy returns. Saying the boy died in the sea. Amleth uses that to slip away by boat. Swearing he would return and avenge his Father, kill his Uncle and save his Mother. Years later, we catch up with him. Now, an adult and a member of a Viking group. On there way to Raid a village. Preparing through a ceremony to help them tap into their animalistic natures before hand, and overwhelm the village. Killing the fighters, enslaving the ones they deem fit and burning everyone else in a fire. That night, he stumbles upon the Seeress. Who tells him his time for vengeance is near. His Uncle’s kingdom has been overrun and is starting anew in Iceland. The Slaves they caught today, are heading there. Refueled by this, he slices his hair short, changes his clothes and brands himself. Sneaking onto the boat after it departs and where I will leave it
They did something very interesting, and that was they did not hold back here. They didn’t try to polish and work around how things were like back then. Going with history. Showing the ceremonies, rituals and how vicious the fights were. Especially, when the Vikings raided the village and how they treated those they defeated. It did have a side effect of, you can’t really get behind anyone. All of the guys are kind of terrible. The Queen has been broken and driven mad by what had been done to her. You get the romance between Amleth and Olga, but her goal is to escape slavery and she is a slave because of Amleth and his berserker group. With that said though, still applaud Robert Eggers and Sjon for seeping so much history of how things were and putting together a fantastic story of Tragedy.
This was shot beautifully. Loved the use of fire and torches to light up everything. Making for some shots that look beautiful, such as when they are preparing for the Raid, and the He witch is silhouetted by the campfire and the warriors getting into mindset, with some awesome music topping it off. While others that looked dirty and gritty. We will get into some issues with the music later, but for what it is worth. The soundtrack was great. The fight scenes were choreographed wonderfully. They were not smooth, but they were frantic and brutal. Being just in your face, win by any means, fights to the death that were fun to watch.
The cast was spot on, with the exception of one. Starting with the positive though. Alexander Skarsgard was great as Amleth. Coming off as a walking death machine. Not just ready to take on any treat, but believe that he can. Nicole Kidman was exceptional. Delivering the twist fantastically. Where she reveals that it was her behind the King’s death. That she was a slave who was forced upon and that was how Amleth was born and being kept around because of that and needed to do something to maintain her life and not go back to slavery. Anya Taylor-Joy was great as Olga of The Birch Forest. Bring the fiery spirit of a slave who was having none of their crap to life. Bjork was fun as The Seeress. Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Elliot Rose, and Willem Dafoe were all excellent.
On the flipside of that, we got a mixed and a negative. Starting with the mixed, we got Gustav Lindh as Thorir. When he did not really have to show emotion. Just be smug to the slaves, he was good and when he did. When his friend’s were killed. It was bad and it stood out in the scene.
On the negative side, and I am not just getting old. I loved the soundtrack but when you have people talking, in some really good, but thick accents. Turn it down, just a little. So, you know, I can follow what is being said.
So, this is why it is so late. Really wanted to think this over. Let it stew a bit in my head. Definitely a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll. This was not a movie that is for me. Kind of reminding me of when I reviewed The Huntress a few years ago, and how I passed on grading it. Which is not what I am doing now. Very different circumstances and different movies. Personal feelings aside though. It is a beautifully directed movie. Excellent soundtrack. The cast did a wonderful job at bringing the characters and feel of the movie together. Bringing you back to how things were and weaving a sense of history to it. It is not going to be a movie for everyone, but if you can handle a brutal, tragedy tale. Then you will enjoy this, if not, I would pass on it. Final Grade – A
As always, I hope you enjoyed and….
Thank You For Reading!
By Paul Anthony
I promise that this isn’t Tom Cruise’s week here, just backed up in assignments here, best way to return to this blog series, I had to start with this film because of the previous blog but here at SmashWriting, we have watched a lot Reacher in the past few weeks. so this blog will end that fetish. Now this film is the sequel to the 2012 film Jack Reacher. Filming on this film started in October of 2015 and the movie was released 1 year later and nearly four years later after the first film. The events in this film are unknown from his last big screen appearance. the film once again stars Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge and Danika Yarosh. The film was produce on a budget that was between 60 and 95 million and only grossed 162 million dollars nearly 60 million dollars less than the first film. The film received mixed reviews and up to this point this series is dead, now thanks to the Amazon hit show, which Justin can’t stop watching to this day.
The film starts with Reacher in a diner when he is busted by the police, who we learn is covering up a human trafficking case in which Reacher solved. Reacher warns the cops what will happen if they arrest him, and they just laugh it off, but they get a phone informing them to let Reacher go and they will be arrested and sure enough they are arrested. At this point we learn that during his travels he has been in contact with Major Susan Turner who is holding his former command post. Then he learns from Colonel Sam Morgan that Turner has been arrested and accused of Espionage. Which forces Reacher to travel to D.C. to see Turner and find out the truth. In the process he learns that he has a daughter that he never knew he had and the people that are framing Turner is now framing Reacher and they learn he might have a daughter which has made weak at times and even more protective. Well, they are on the run he even notices how the girl has some of his traits. Like always Reacher manages to solve the case and clear the innocent of any wrongdoing and Turner is reinstated in her post. Reacher then has dinner with his daughter in which he tells her he remembers everyone he has slept with, and she reveals that he isn’t her father because her mother is the waitress that has been serving them and neither of them recognize each other, Reacher parts ways with her and as he is walking, it is revealed that she slipped phone in his pocket with a text message saying do you miss me yet and the film ends with him smiling at the text message.
Now I have to say from learning what I know regarding Reacher, Tom made him show a lot more emotion than apparently the character normally does, the action was on par with the first film, which I might have been expecting more fight scenes or even better action overall. Adding the daughter element made him weaker or showed his human side, hard to be a judge in this case. The plot did have a lot of twist and turns to try to make it seem more intense but just seems like they got lazy or stupid or both honestly. Overall, I am giving this film a C or 70 percent because in the end this film just seemed averaged and when it seems like that then it will get lost in the shuffle of action movies. And that is exactly what has happened!
By Paul Anthony
Next month Top Gun 2 is coming out and I am planning on seeing it, but something occurred to me and that was that I never got to watch the first film and well I have a free moment in the schedule, I wanted to take a day to review this film. Now last few days, I had to think about this because I feel like there are two Tom Cruises. The young Tom and the older Tom, now the older Tom takes movies and make it about him, as to where younger Tom was just a movie star in the 80’s. This film was released in May of 1986 and starred a good cast which included Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins, and Kelly McGillis. Now this film was produced from a 15 million and managed to make a 357 million dollars. Now In 2015 the United States Library of Congress selected the film the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, because it found it to be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The film also won an academy award for best original song for Take My Breath Away which was performed by Berlin. Now before most critics gave this film mixed reviews but praised the performance of Cruise and McGillis. Now Let’s start talking about the plot.
Here in this film, we LT Pete Mitchell AKA Maverick, and his Radar Intercept Officer Nick Bradshaw AKA Goose right off the bat we see Maverick as a cocky but talented fighter pilot but during one mission him and goose and their wingman Cougar have a mission, but Cougar basically chokes, and Maverick saves the day, but Cougar gives up his wings which opens the door for Maverick and Goose to join the TopGun program. Once there, Maverick becomes loved and hated but mostly hated by Tom “Iceman” Kazansky who is the top student of the program. Through the film, we see Maverick fall for TopGun Civilian Instructor, and they develop feelings for each other, at the same time Maverick forms a rival with Iceman and each compete for the top spot until one day an accident happens when Maverick gets in Iceman jet wash and flames out but during the ejection a malfunction happens, and goose hits his head hard and killing him and Maverick is cleared of any wrongdoing but nevertheless he feels the guilt of losing his best friend. Maverick does graduate from the program but doesn’t win the award for the best but shortly after graduating they given a mission which Maverick serves as Iceman wingman. However, during the mission Iceman and Hollywood which is another top pilot are ambushed and Maverick is sent to help at first, he seems like Hes going to abandon the mission but, in the end, saves the day as an award maverick can select his next location and job and he decides to become an instructor for the TopGun program.
Now, we have a young tom cruise which back than he wasn’t making movies that were all him. Which help each character shine in their own right. IceMan Val Kimer took each scene that he was in and he made people know that. Though his screen time wasn’t as much as Tom’s he still took the spotlight when he was on the screen. The story was basic because you knew right off the bat that Maverick in the end was going to come through. Lost of Goose midway through the film was a good touch because it gave us a chance to see how close these characters were. The jet’s were the main source of action and it was a thing of beauty to watch them. The problem is for me, we could have had more jet fighting rather than the love story aspect. Don’t me wrong the movie needed emotions but the love story was a waste when they could have gave us more Goose and Maverick. In the end I am giving this film a B or 80 percent. Its above average but not great!