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.   

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Review. MMMMMMM!!!

4 and a half stars
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal pretty much traumatized me as a child.
I remember seeing a Skeksis crumble to dust in the opening minutes of the film and being absolutely terrified.
Now, years later, the Jim Henson Company and Netflix have released a prequel series to the original creepy, puppet, fantasy movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, I came into this series with a vague sense of the original movie, since I think I was 12 the last time I watched it.
Well, Age of Resistance made me want to go back and watch that film because the Netflix series is fantastic, delivering a riveting story with great characters, music and puppetry.

The puppetry in Age of Resistance is often top notch, with very few moments of an uncanny valley.

The Dark Crystal movie came out in 1982 so a lot of time has passed and this has given the creators the chance to improve on the puppetry and CGI.
The way the practical effects merge with computer generated effects is perfect, giving Age of Resistance a grand sense of scope.
The story follows three Gelflings; castle guard Rian (Taron Edgerton), the cave dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Princess Brea (Anya Taylor Joy), learning that their lords, the Skeksis, are not so benevolent as they thought.
Realizing the threat the Skeksis pose to the world of Thra, the three Gelflings set out on their own individual journeys to stop the Skeksis and the Darkening they have caused by abusing the Dark Crystal.

Rian and friends.jpg
Rian, Deet and Brea’s journey to stop the Skesis results in numerous moments of high tension, fear, and sometimes laughter.

I came to care about all three of these Gelfling, who are all magnificently voice acted, with my favourite probably being Deet.
I liked her arc from beginning to end and also really enjoyed her friendship with the Podling Hup (Victor Yerrid).
Another thing I surprisingly enjoyed was the Skeksis themselves, who are over the top evil in the best of ways.
The Emperor (Jason Isaacs) is a commanding overlord, and The Scientist (Mark Hamill) uses his genius in cruelly malevolent ways.
By far the most investing Skeksis is Simon Pegg’s backstabbing Chamberlain.
With his constant “MMMMMMMs!”, he is as delightfully two-faced as I remember him being in the original movie.

The Chamberlain.jpg
Describing The Chamberlain as a weasel is probably the most accurate way to describe his backstabbing nature.

As for the music, it further highlights the majesty of the world of Thra, and the danger whenever the characters’ lives are at risk.
Speaking of, there are a lot of deaths.
I have heard some describe this series as Game of Thrones with puppets and that is fairly accurate; although this should have been expected, given where the original movie starts off.
However, there are a few things that stop Age of Resistance from being perfect.
One is the fact that it is sometimes hard to take certain dramatic scenes seriously because, well, the characters are puppets.
Granted, these moments are few and bar between but they still happen.
By far the biggest problem, though, is that many of the characters seem to have changes in motivation at the drop of a hat.
Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a prime example of this; but easily the biggest instance of this is in episode four where at least four characters’ motivations seem to change almost instantaneously with no buildup.
Still, these issues do not ruin the experience as The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a well made show with a great story and characters, and brilliant effects, both practical and computer generated.
I highly recommend it, especially for fans of The Dark Crystal movie.