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Northmen: Vikings in Scotland
place you name, chances are the Vikings made it there. They were quite the
navigators, but not the renegade band led by the young warrior Asbjörn. Their
ship has foundered on the rocks along the Scottish shore. Fortunately, they can
still fight like berserkers, because they will have to in Claudio Fäh’s Northmen: a Viking Saga (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in Los Angeles.
father was one of the final holdouts, who sacked and pillaged the old fashioned
way, unlike the current crop of sell-out Vikings. After his death, Asbjörn has
struggled to hold the last remnant together. Getting shipwrecked in Alba
(a.k.a. Scotland) will not help his cause. The locals’ initial reception was
quite hostile, but it provided them an opportunity to take a nobleman’s
daughter hostage. Her ransom should be enough to buy their way into the Norse
settlements towards the south. However, it turns out that was no lady, it is Princess
Inghean, the Scottish king’s daughter.
the king mobilizes his entire forces, but his sleazy mercenary commanders will
lead the hunt and they have an incentive to prevent her arranged marriage—permanently.
To stay alive long enough to make it to the Danish territories, Asbjörn will
forge unlikely alliances with Inghean and Brother Conall, a Christian monk who
can handle a staff in a manner that would make Friar Tuck proud.
Asbjörn’s men are fighting, the film is on pretty solid ground. Fortunately,
that is pretty much always the case. Occasionally they stop to lick their
wounds, but there is absolutely no hanky-panky going on. The upright Asbjörn
sees to that.
the South African landscape doubles for Scotland throughout Northmen, cinematographer Lorenzo
Senatore’s big sweeping vistas make it look like Tolkienesque New Zealand.
Technically, there are no fantasy elements in the film (notwithstanding their increasingly
incredible exploits), but it certainly looks like a land beyond contemporary
is not exactly the sort of film that will generate a lot of acceptance speeches
on the part of its cast. Nevertheless, Ryan Kwanten does some of his best work
outside of the True Blood series as
Conall. He kicks butt rather nicely, while brooding over his dark past. The
film just clicks together better when he is on-screen. In contrast, Tom Hopper’s
Asbjörn is a rather bland hero, coming across like Chris Hemsworth’s even more
wooden brother. Although hardly the next Angela Mao, Charlie Murphy handles her
action scenes well enough and shows a bit of fire as Inghean. Fortunately, a
classically trained cat like Darrell D’Silva understands how to chew the
scenery as the crusty old veteran Viking plunderer, Gunnar.
When it sticks when it sticks to hack-and-slash
action, Northmen is a lot of fun.
Indeed, it rarely gets more ambitious than that, but it is a wise film that
recognizes its limitations and adjusts accordingly. Considerably more
entertaining than the Norse-themed monster movie Ragnarok, Northmen: a Viking
Saga is recommended for action fans when it opens tomorrow (7/31) in Los
Angeles at the Arena Cinema.
Labels: Viking movies