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‘The Northman’ First Reactions: Robert Eggers’ ‘Breathtakingly Gnarly’ Third Feature Is a ‘Ferocious’ Film

Robert Eggers' $90 million Viking revenge epic officially has a wow factor according to early reactions from journalists.

The Northman

“The Northman”

Aidan Monaghan

Robert Eggers has done it again with “The Northman.”

The writer-director’s third feature film behind “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse” tells a Viking revenge story based on the same Scandinavian folk tale that inspired Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

The star-studded cast — including Alexander Skarsgård, Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Ineson, and Björk — plus the grueling 87-day production, have propelled “The Northman” to a status of intrigue even before its release.

IndieWire’s Chief Film Critic David Ehlrich wrote, “All you need to know about The Northman — a $90 million viking revenge movie directed by Robert Eggers — is that every single moment of it feels like a $90 million viking revenge movie directed by Robert Eggers.”

While IndieWire Executive Editor of Film Kate Erbland said the film had her “flipping between ‘HELL YES’ and ‘OH NO’ with startling regularity,” Deputy Managing Editor Ryan Lattanzio felt the film perhaps didn’t push things far enough (“needed more incest”).

Journalist Jack King, whose work as appeared in GQ and Vulture, noted, “It’s a crying shame that THE NORTHMAN has been criminally mishandled because it’s precisely what blockbuster cinema should aspire to, and still has the potential to be. Formally audacious but welcoming; easy to follow but not, simply, a guided tour. Five big ol’ stars. Björk!”

Unilad entertainment editor Cameron Frew called “The Northman” an “incredible” movie, tweeting, “Like, fall-to-your-knees, ‘HOW the HELL did they do this?’ good.” The “breathtakingly gnarly” film “deserves to be a massive hit.”

Rolling Stone senior critic David Fear compared “The Northman” to a Frank Frazetta painting. “I give it 5/5 cawing ravens,” he tweeted.

Variety reporter Tomris Laffly added that the film has “stunning choreography” and is “gruesome in ways I still can’t fully believe.” While the movie is “not without its setbacks,” “The Northman” is still the “kind of film whose existence feels like a miracle today.”

Fandango’s Erik Davis wrote, “Robert Eggers’ ‘The Northman’ is hauntingly visceral & super transfixing. You definitely won’t be able to take your eyes off this blood-soaked revenge tale. Alexander Skarsgård is a BEAST & ferocious throughout. Nicole Kidman has a couple scenes that floored me. Daring & devilish.”

It seems that Skarsgård enduring being “shackled and dragged” on set for his “most difficult job” ever was worth it.

Previously, Academy Award–winning director Alfonso Cuarón praised the “very complicated” film that gives the “impression almost of intoxication” for viewers. “You are there, and you’re breathing with those actors,” Cuarón told The New Yorker in a profile on Eggers’ practical and historically accurate filmmaking techniques.

Check out more critics’ reactions below.


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