Is ‘The Northman’ a Failed Art Film, or Is It Robert Eggers’ Stolidly Successful Blockbuster Audition? (Column)

The Northman,” a violent epic of Viking revenge, is not a good movie.

It’s like “Gladiator” without the Colosseum and with a stubbornly uninteresting hulk avenger hero.

(It also drags on 45 minutes longer than it should have.) A lot of critics have overpraised the movie because they feel invested in the career of Robert Eggers, the maverick indie director who made the spectral Puritan horror film “The Witch” (2015) and the even more impressive two-men-in-a-lighthouse gaga period fever dream “The Lighthouse” (2019).

I’m invested too.

I share the Eggers enthusiasm — he’s a major talent.Yet as much as “The Northman” is a medieval Iceland saga decorated with fire, gore, mud, folklore hallucination and random gobs of mystic Norse weirdness (not to mention the kinkiest element of “Hamlet” kicked up a notch), I only wish I could say that the film fails because it goes over-the-top with all that stuff.

Read full article