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.   

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review: A Nostalgia Film Done Right.

I quite enjoyed the first two MCU Spider-Man films.
Homecoming was a great example of a more grounded MCU film, with a fantastic antagonist, and while I did not like Far From Home as much as the first, I still thought it did a great job continuing the story of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
Well, after seeing the third film, No Way Home, I can say that this one is easily the best movie of the three. 

I thought it would be hard to top Homecoming but No Way Home did it in spectacular fashion.

Directed again by Jon Watts, No Way Home follows the events of Far From Home where Peter’s identity as Spider-Man was revealed to the world in a final act of vengeance by Mysterio.
With a conspiracy theory based witch hunt now invading every part of his life, spearheaded by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K Simmons), Peters goes to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to request that he erase everyone’s memories of him being Spider-Man.
However, when Peter begins to add conditions to the spell, wanting M.J (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to remember, it causes the spell to go haywire and draw in any villain who knows Spider-Man’s secret identity from other universes.
Peter quickly finds himself under attack from these villains, most notably Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Otto Octavius’ Dr Octopus (Alfred Molina).

There are many old Spider-Man villains in No Way Home but Dr Octopus and the Green Goblin are by far the standouts with great performances from the returning actors.

And so Peter and Dr Strange must capture these numerous villains and send them back to their own universes before they cause too much chaos in their own, only for conflict between the two heroes to quickly follow. 
With so many villains from previous Spider-Man films being in this movie, it would have been extremely easy for this film to just devolve into mindless nostalgia with no intelligence.
However, I think that No Way Home is a perfect example of a nostalgia film done right.
There are numerous quotes from the earlier films, including memes created from them, and these somehow work entirely.
What works even better is Tom Holland’s fantastic performance as Peter.
I have liked him in the role in the previous MCU movies but his performance in No Way Home is definitley his best so far.

Peter goes through a lot and grows a lot in this movie.

This film is essentially the end of the Spider-Man origin we did not know this trilogy was.
I would even call it one of the best MCU films, with it definitely being in my top ten, if not my top five.       
No Way Home is the perfect example of how to do a film with nostalgia as a major focus.
December was a great release date for it because the movie’s numerous great callbacks and easter eggs make it feel like a Christmas present for Spider-Man fans.
Speaking of which, be sure to have a Merry Christmas.