MovieGoer20’s review published on Letterboxd:
Robert Eggers has already become one of my favorite directors. I loved The Witch and The Lighthouse is already one of my favorite films of all time. I was going to be there for his next film no matter what so I was already excited for this film. On top of being from Eggers, it looked like an epic Viking adventure film with horror elements thrown in and I was here for it on top of it being a very stacked cast it was one of my most anticipated films of the year.
Eggers’ filmmaking once again shines here because this film is immaculate looking. The visual effects are absolutely fantastic in this and the backgrounds are breathtaking as far as the way they’re shot goes and I could easily just look at this film’s shots and admire them for awhile because it is beautiful like both of Eggers’ films before. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic here and visually this film absolutely succeeded. As a film about Vikings, there is a ton of killing and action and it felt like the intensity was turned up here because the kills in this film were brutal in the best way. It really showed how these people could be extremely violent and showed how brutal that time period was. The story is simplistic with our main character wanting to avenge his dead father, but Eggers makes this feel like a big grand epic with that. This movie is classified as an action/adventure movie but it definitely has horror elements in there too. When the main character and his father partake in the jester’s ritual at the beginning, it was really creepy and atmospheric and disturbing. Especially when we see the transition to what’s inside of the father which comes back in the movie to show how things have progressed since then. We see how truly determined the main character is and he even hallucinates a battle with a figure to see how he’s going to use the sword to finally kill the man he’s seeking vengeance against which was pretty effective even if it was kind of odd. Performance wise this movie was fantastic. Alexander Skarsgård did a phenomenal job as the main character and we see how he raids villages and basically trains to kill his uncle by doing so. Anya Taylor Joy was great as always as the love interest for our main character and despite not having too much chemistry together, I still found myself rooting for them to get together. Nicole Kidman was the Queen who had quite the interesting twist when it came to her character and it’s really up for the viewer to decide whether they like her or not because of this. Claes Bang was someone who I wasn’t familiar with prior to this movie but I was very impressed with his performance here as the uncle our main character is set on killing because he really came off as pure evil in the best way here. Willem Dafoe might not have been in this movie too long but his chilling ceremony scene as the fool was fantastic as he usually is. Ethan Hawke was also great as the father for the brief time he was in it too. As I mentioned this film has some fantastic action here and the buildup and the dread of the inevitable final battle was so well done. There’s a constant dark cloud hanging over this world which makes sense for this very dark storyline. There are scenes of people being tortured or burned alive and it’s genuinely disturbing to see. It creates such haunting visuals that are going to stick with me for awhile because I genuinely do consider this to be a horror film. When we finally do get to the inevitable final battle literally in the gates of hell, it’s intense and it being dark and all around lava made it even better. Despite it being hard to see at times, it was still a sight to behold like the rest of the film. I think my only problem with this film was that it did drag a bit in the second act but honestly it was still not that bad especially considering how great the first and third acts are. I genuinely felt like I had sat through a grand 3 hour epic by the end despite it being shorter and flying by so fast.
Conclusion: Eggers once again proved why he’s already one of my favorite directors of modern film. This film is just brutal to get through but I mean that in a good way. Fantastic visuals in addition to great casting mixed with some gory and violent action made this quite the experience. I thought Eggers hit it out of the park again and let me tell you, if I see a film with his name on it, I will immediately check it out. Can’t wait for his Nosferatu remake!!