This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
YouHadMeAtJell-o’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Sure, it is essentially Hamlet, but considering Bill Shakespeare is thought to have based one of his most celebrated character on Alexander Skarsgård's vengeful berserker warrior, Amleth, who's to say The Bard didn't copy Robert Eggers, hmmm?
It's three out of three for visionary filmmaker Eggers, but this might be him at the height of his powers, creating a phenomenal world inspired by viking history by telling a simple but undeniably effective tale of bloody and furious revenge. From the first frame you see a director that has a clear vision, and although this might be larger in scope than The VVitch and The Lighthouse, it is still a Robert Eggers film through and through.
But The Northman is also a film where all of its parts around the director's blueprint just fit perfectly. The performances are raw, brutal, physical - Alexander Skarsgård a frenzied force of nature, Anya Taylor-Joy looking right at home in the madness, Nicole Kidman probably delivering the most shocking moment, and although both Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe's appearances are fleeting, they're no less memorable and as a pair set a striking tone.
Ancient Iceland is captured in all of its unforgiving glory, Jarin Blaschke's spectacular cinematography fully immersing you, eventually setting the stage for an unforgettable showdown at the gates of hell. While the score alone from Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough is enough to make you sprout a full chest of hair, pulsating with heavy war cries and propulsive beats.
Watching this with the best image and sound imaginable in a Dolby cinema was a real treat. For over two hours I was transported to a whole new world, which was both real and mystical, unrelentingly bleak and stunningly magical as you hurtle to the foregone conclusion that is Valhalla. You've seen violent revenge films before, including ones with historical settings, but as Hawke and his princely son get high and bark like dogs you soon realise that you haven't seen one quite like this. I can't wait to journey to the north again.