Movies

"A one-note fiasco": Robert Eggers' 'The Northman' Left Critics Divided

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Bloody Viking saga from the director of 'The Witch' and 'The Lighthouse' was eagerly anticipated by film-connoisseurs around the world. Now, finally, it's time to find out what the critics say about it.

Alexander Skarsgård led epic received an overwhelmingly positive 88% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, just 2% below Eggers' previous directing endeavors.

Time Out's Philip De Semlyen saw the film as a major win for traditional cinema, stating that it's not "just the film of the year so far it's a widescreen rallying cry for cinema in the age of streaming", while The Wrap's Alonso Duralde noted that Egger's more mainstream approach to directing resulted in film's "potential of attracting the kind of viewers who might have found his previous work impenetrable".

David Rooney of Hollywood Reporter commended the director on his original vision, saying that the film is "a work of bold imagination, not another offshoot of a familiar IP. That alone deserves respect". IndieWire's David Ehrlich praised Egger's approach too – "In a movie era that's been defined by compromise, The Northman rides into theaters with the fury of a valkyrie — it's the rare studio epic that would sooner die than submit to modern precepts of how it should be told". RogerEbert.com's Robert Daniels noted that "Eggers brand of psychological shock is bolder here than his prior works and potent in bursts".

However, not all critics were beyond themselves with joy. Variety's Peter Debruge found 'The Northman' to be "rather dull and hardly any fun", while Time's Kevin Maher described the flick as "A one-note fiasco and a foam-flecked depiction of cartoon machismo from a gifted film-maker who should have known better".

Perhaps such films require polar perspectives – the brutality of Viking life, accurately recreated on screen, cannot make the viewer impartial. The most interesting part is that Robert Eggers himself is not so thrilled with his new film. While talking to The Guardian, director stated that he is "proud of the movie, but not everything is quite what I hoped it would be. So I would like to do something with the scope and scale that I can actually get what's in my imagination on to the screen".

Blood-soaked 'The Northman' hits theatres on April 22, 2022.

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