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Archive for March 14, 2011

Spring Break Boredom Buster Challenge : Day Two – “Valhalla Rising”

As previously stated, I’m not going anywhere for Spring Break. That being the case, I figured I would catch up on some movies that have been piling up on Netflix. I thought it’d be fun to go through and once a day watch a film that popped up as a “suggestion” from Netflix and review the experience here on the blog to provide the illusion of regular content.

So here’s day two

The Flick : Valhalla Rising (2010)
The Director: Nicholas Winding Refn (Bronson)
The Players: Mads Mikkleson (Casino Royale), Gary Lewis (Gangs of New York)

Synopsis (via IMDb): 1000 AD, for years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and together he and Are escape, beginning a journey into the heart of darkness. On their flight, One Eye and Are board a Viking vessel, but the ship is soon engulfed by an endless fog that clears only as the crew sights an unknown land. As the new world reveals its secrets and the Vikings confront their terrible and bloody fate, One Eye discovers his true self.

Review: I have no fucking clue what this movie is about. It’s not about vikings per se, as even the director said that he had no interest in vikings when he took on the film. Really the movie is one big existential metaphor for something I can’t really wrap my head around because I was so busy trying not to be bored. I’d seen Refn’s Bronson and figured this would be equally engaging but the disconnect is vast. There’s a measure of sick charm and charisma to Bronson that is completely absent from Valhalla. It’s far too moody and choppily edited to entertain and the construction is so vague and recessed that the experience is akin to watching a reading of a poem in another language that you walked in on somewhere in the middle.

I don’t need things to be spelled out for me, nor do I need things to move at a mile a minute for me to consider it entertaining. I love a good slow burn. The fact that I’ve watched The Assassination of Jesse James multiple times should attest to this but there is nothing in Valhalla Rising that seems to connect on any level with me as a viewer. It’s wonderfully shot at times and the violence is brutal and graphic, showing a glimpse of medieval fighting that often gets glossed over. But the story fails to captivate and the pacing is like wading through sludge.

I had hoped this one would be worth my time but ultimately I feel as if it could have been a bit more interesting if they’d been a little less vague with what they were trying to do. I understand that they wanted the film to act as a metaphor but you have to actually care for that sort of tactic to work. The disconnect between the action and the audience precludes that and ultimately renders this film as a misfire.