The Northman Review: If You Seek Revenge, Dig a Hundred Graves.

Robert Eggers is a director who has been highly praised for his previous films, The Witch and The Lighthouse.
Given this, and how much I was impressed by the trailers for his latest film, The Northman, along with the movie’s positive reception, I went to see it last weekend.
After watching it, I can definitely say that I agree with the reception the film has been getting.
The Northman is a brutal, viking revenge story that is thrilling from beginning to end, even in its slower moments.
Our main character is Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a viking prince, whose father (Ethan Hawke) is murdered and mother (Nicole Kidman) kidnapped by his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang). 
Amleth barely escapes the assassination and coup where Fjölnir steals the kingdom, growing up to become a savage warrior; one with three promises keeping him going over the years: “I will avenge you, father. I will save you, mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.”

Upon recieving a form of prophecy, Amleth embarks on his quest of vengance.

The direction of The Northman is stellar, along with the cinematography by Jarin Blaschke, and the score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough.
These features help propel the writing forward, as the film manages to be quite entertaining, despite its often slow pace, with some excellent action sequences and compelling twists and turns to the narrative. 
The actors also all bring their A game.
Alexander Skarsgård feels like a literal beast at times as Amleth, yet still manages to show vulnerabilities in a performance that would not surprise me if it earned him a Best Actor Nomination at the very least.

Skarsgård makes Amleth both brutal and sympathetic as he is eventually faced with the choice of love for his kin or hate for his enemies.

The other actors all bring the same quality to their performances, even those with minor roles like Willem Dafoe and Björk.
The only character I have an issue with in this movie is Olga, played by Anya Taylor Joy.
However, this is not because of Joy’s performance.
In fact, I think she does an excellent job, like everyone else.
No, my issue has to do with the way she is written.
I just find the kind of relationship she forms with Almeth to be sort of unrealistic, considering how the two of them meet.
It made me think there was going to be some kind of twist surrounding Olga but there wasn’t.

Not to say that I did not like Olga’s character and, again, Joy’s performance is excellent, but I think some more explanation for her bond with Amleth would have been nice.

This was not a huge issue, however, and, other than this, I absolutely loved The Northman.
It is a gripping revenge story that has a lot to say about the consequences of vengeance, the brutality of people, and even the effect love can have on a person.
The Northman is easily one of the best film’s of the year.   

Godzilla Vs. Kong Review: Pleasing My Inner Child.

3 and a half stars
Growing up, I always loved giant monster movies.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake was the film that got me interested in movies in the first place.
However, my favourite giant monster as a kid was not Kong but Godzilla.
I watched many of his films and even now still own a lot of them.
I’ve always been a fan of Kaiju movies, which has honestly made me disappointed in the whole monster cinematic universe so far.
I loved the first of these films, Godzilla, when it came out in 2014.
However, this was mainly because I was excited to finally see an accurate blockbuster representation of the big G on the big screen.
As time went on, I realized the film’s flaws more, like that it gets rid of the only interesting human character way too early and leaves us with only bland and generic ones, not focusing enough on Godzilla himself.

Killing off Bryan Cranston’s character and focusing on the rest of the bland human characters, instead of Godzilla, were the 2014 film’s biggest mistakes.

Then there’s it sequel and spinoff, King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, which were even more disappointing to me.
King of the Monsters just could not live up to its trailers, delivering an even worse cast of characters than the first, and Kong: Skull Island also focused on a mostly uninteresting cast, while I felt that one characters’ backstory should have been the entire plot of the movie.
So, taking all of this into account, I came into Godzilla vs. Kong excited to see these epic monsters have their first cinematic showdown since 1962, yet I was slightly skeptical.
You know what, though?
I came out of the theater actually very pleased with Godzilla vs. Kong. 
It’s a fun, cheer inducing film that pleased the inner child in me, who so loved Kaiju movies growing up.
Directed by Adam Wingard, the movie justifies its big fight between the two monsters by having a group of mostly uninteresting scientists using Kong to search for a power source inside the earth, with Kong’s presence drawing Godzilla out to fight.
Given how I just described the human characters, you can obviously see that I once again find them to be the biggest problem with the movie.
With a talented cast among the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Julian Dennison, I’d hoped they would at least be more interesting than the ones in the previous movies.
Alas, it was note to be, with many of them being incredibly one dimensional.
Not only this but I found that the storyline centering around Brown, Henry and Dennison’s characters could have been removed entirely from the film.
However, there is one interesting human character in the movie, Jia, a deaf girl played by Kaylee Hottle who has a connection with Kong, leading to a moment that gave me chills in the theater.

The bond between Jia and Kong is fantastic. This is how the relationship between humans and monsters should be portrayed in these movies.

I just wish that instead of the pointless conspiracy theory plotline we got more time with Jia and the characters surrounding her because this could have also made them way more interesting.
I think in the next monster movie they make whoever’s writing it should cut down on the number of characters, so they actually have time to develop some of them to the point that we can actually care about what happens to them and their arcs.
These flawed characters had me concerned for the first quarter of the movie, since it mainly focused on them.
I was worried this was going to be another movie where everything focused on the humans instead of the monsters fights, which were what we all actually wanted to see.
I am so glad that I was wrong and the film actually focused on the monsters.
After this first quarter, the movie picks up, delivering epic fight scene after epic fight scene, as Godzilla and Kong duke it out numerous times.
The way that these fights were shot, edited and given a sense of scale really amazed me.
It was something I’d been wanting from this monster cinematic universe since the very first one.
And that final fight.
That. Final. Fight.
What an incredible climax it was, gifting us with epic scenes that made me grin so hard I was sure my mouth was going to fall off.

The final battle between Godzilla and Kong gave me an experience that I have been waiting to see in theaters for a while.

These fight scenes saved the film for me, making up for the many uniteresting characters, unfunny jokes and pointless conspiracy subplot. 
I came to see the two most famous monsters of all time engage in a battle and that’s what I got, in sometimes spectacular fashion.
This makes the film worth the price of admission for me. 
I am sure that it pleased every single Kaiju fan’s inner child.