Tag Archives: Alexander Skarsgård

The Northman (2022) Review

THE NORTHMAN

The Northman

Time: 137 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, cruelty, animal cruelty & sexual material
Cast:
Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth
Nicole Kidman as Queen Gudrún
Claes Bang as Fjölnir the Brotherless
Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga of the Birch Forest
Ethan Hawke as King Aurvandill War-Raven
Willem Dafoe as Heimir the Fool
Björk as the Seeress
Director: Robert Eggers

Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy’s mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who raids Slavic villages. He soon meets a seeress who reminds him of his vow — save his mother, kill his uncle, avenge his father.

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The Northman was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Robert Eggers has started becoming one of my favourite directors with his two movies, The Witch and The Lighthouse. His third film would be on a larger scale, with it being a Norse revenge story as opposed to a contained horror film. Add on top of that a cast which includes Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe, and it looked quite exciting. The Northman more than lived up to all the hyp

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Compared to his previous two movies, The Northman is definitely Robert Eggers’s most accessible movie by far. With that said, I wouldn’t say its for everyone, it’s still dark, brutal and strange like I hoped it would be. At its core, the story is fairly simplistic as a revenge story. An interesting fact however it is a retelling of the Scandinavian legend Amleth, which is the story that William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is based on. I really liked its depiction of vengeance and the portrayal the endless cycle of violence, making it more than just another typical revenge movie. As expected, when it comes to Robert Eggers, the writing is quite authentic to the time period, especially with the dialogue. This also extends to the Norse mythology, while I’m not expert in it, it seems like Eggers has a deep understanding of it. The Northman is fairly slowly paced across its 2 hours and 30 minutes runtime, but I think the pacing was just right for this movie.

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The performances from everyone are great, no matter how little screen time they have, they make strong impressions in their roles. As the protagonist Amleth, Alexander Skarsgard gives one of his best performances, if not his best. It’s a very physical performance and he’s brooding and stoic as a beast of a man looking for revenge, but also shows genuine emotion. Anya Taylor-Joy as usual was amazing and although they don’t have as many scenes together as I would’ve liked, she and Skarsgard have great chemistry together. Nicole Kidman is one of the standouts of the film as Amleth’s mother. She makes the most of her screentime, with a monologue in the second half particularly standing out. Claes Bang is also effective as the main villain and the target of Amleth’s vengeance. Other actors like Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Bjork aren’t in the movie a huge amount, but nonetheless are memorable and play their parts well.

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The direction by Robert Eggers was exceptional, he really gets better at his craft with every subsequent movie. While it is his most conventional movie, The Northman definitely is an Eggers movie and is just as weird and dark as you’d expect from him. In contrast to The Witch and The Lighthouse, The Northman has a larger budget and he really makes the most out of it. The film truly is a spectacle and I’m so glad that I got to watch it on the big screen. The cinematography and visuals are amazing and make use of the locations. It really immerses you into this world, especially with the long takes. The battle sequences are great and uncompromising, fittingly gnarly, gritty and over the top at times. Without getting too into depth, the final fight really is satisfying. Eggers’s attention to detail (mainly with historical accuracy) also extends to his direction, with costume and production designs being exceptional and on point. Finally, the score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough perfectly fits the mood and feel of the movie.

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Allegedly, Robert Eggers had to make some compromises to get this movie made and I have to say, the end result is still very impressive. The Northman is one of those big budget hard R epic that we sadly don’t get much of nowadays. It’s a creative, ambitious, uncompromising and brutal Norse revenge epic, that’s visually stunning and an incredible experience. The cast impresses, especially Skarsgard, Taylor-Joy and Kidman, and the direction from Eggers is fantastic. It’s already one of the best movies of 2022.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) Review

GODZILLA vs. KONG

Godzilla vs Kong

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Alexander Skarsgård as Dr. Nathan Lind
Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell
Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews
Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes
Shun Oguri as Ren Serizawa
Eiza González as Maia Simmons
Julian Dennison as Josh Valentine
Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell
Demián Bichir as Walter Simmons
Kaylee Hottle as Jia
Director: Adam Wingard

Fearsome monsters Godzilla and King Kong square off in an epic battle for the ages, while humanity looks to wipe out both of the creatures and take back the planet once and for all.

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I was looking forward to Godzilla vs. Kong quite a bit. I liked the previous movies in this recent MonsterVerse with Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Even though this isn’t the first time these two iconic titans fought against each other on screen, it would be quite something to see these more recent incarnations of them fight. Godzilla vs. Kong definitely has a lot of issues on display but is nonetheless pretty entertaining and delivers on its promise.

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I won’t spoil much of the plot, it doesn’t do a lot of surprising things and the plot is pretty predictable, but I think there’s some moments best experienced for yourself. The tone of Godzilla (2014) was pretty dark, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was lighter and had more jokes, but still took itself somewhat seriously. Godzilla vs. Kong borders on self awareness, and doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a very silly storyline, even more than previous movies. One storyline is even about a conspiracy theorist podcaster teaming with a pair of teenagers to look into a conspiracy. This isn’t the kind of movie that stops to reflect on the collateral damage either. Another thing to note is that there is less focus on the humans compared to past Godzilla movies. There is a connection between an orphan girl and Kong, and I thought that part was genuinely well done. On the whole though, you don’t have any emotional connection to the rest of the characters or plot. Depending on you, that can either find all of this a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand it does feel like there’s not a whole lot of substance and that it’s just only focusing on the fight scenes. On the other hand, it’s very easy to follow, the movie flies by with a quick pace and a small runtime of an hour and 50 minutes, and it gives the audience what they want. Not to mention that the human stuff isn’t generally well received from the past movies, so there’s no half baked family drama here. The first act is pretty rough, it felt pretty disjointed and a bit all over the place, with a lot of brief exposition dumps. After the first fight between Godzilla and Kong though, that’s when the movie really picked up for me. Also without getting to into it, the third act is very satisfying. The trailers have actually done a great job at showing you glimpses big moments, but keeping much of the true highlights away from the audience until they actually watch the movie. Past MonsterVerse movies aimed to empathise with both creatures, so naturally in this movie we would have to have one of them as the hero of the narrative, this movie chose Kong. I guess it’s a bit easier to emphasize with him over Godzilla. Last little note, some of the MonsterVerse movies had end credits scenes, but this one doesn’t, in fact there doesn’t seem to be any hint or indication of a follow up movie.

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The humans are always the weakest parts of these movies, and Godzilla vs Kong is no exception. However I do think that overall the characters are better than some of the past movies (though not by much), and the cast do well enough on their parts. Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle are the main characters in one storyline involving Kong, and Brian Tyree Henry, Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison are the main characters looking into why Godzilla is suddenly attacking cities.

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Adam Wingard is the director, and overall I think he did a really good job with the movie. It’s solid on a technical level and the visual effects are astounding. The first fight between Godzilla and Kong is really good, but all the fights in the second half of the movie are on a whole other level. It’s all shot and choreographed incredibly well too, with some really solid action and its very creative. You really get the feeling that this movie knows that these moments are what people are really looking for, and they deliver on them. The score from Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) is also really good and fits with the movie well, especially during the large action scenes.

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Godzilla vs. Kong is absurd, over the top, has a predictable story, and has some thinly written characters. But it’s also incredibly entertaining, visually stunning, and has some very satisfying action. If you liked any of the MonsterVerse movies, I think you can enjoy this one. If you can, try to watch it on the big screen because it’s quite an experience. As a movie it’s not all that great, I think at least most of the other MonsterVerse movies are better than it, but Godzilla vs. Kong is still very entertaining for what it is.

Melancholia (2011) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Kirsten Dunst as Justine
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire
Alexander Skarsgård as Michael
Kiefer Sutherland as John
Cameron Spurr as Leo
Charlotte Rampling as Gaby
John Hurt as Dexter
Jesper Christensen as Little Father
Stellan Skarsgård as Jack
Brady Corbet as Tim
Udo Kier as The Wedding Planner
Director: Lars von Trier

On the night of her wedding, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is struggling to be happy even though it should be the happiest day of her life. It was an extravagant wedding paid for by her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland) who are trying to keep the bride and all the guests in line. Meanwhile, Melancholia, a blue planet, is hurtling towards the Earth. Claire, Justine’s sister, is struggling to maintain composure with fear of the impending disaster.

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I had heard about Melancholia for a while, I heard that it was Lars von Trier’s most accessible film yet, which wasn’t an easy thing to narrow down to considering his filmography. After watching and mostly liking his two part film Nymphomaniac, I decided to check this movie out. Melancholia is a great and impactful film about depression, with great performances and some really good direction. It’s not for everyone and is a bit overlong, but I thought it was really good.

Melancholia is pretty long at around 2 hours and 15 minutes. The film is split into two parts, one titled Justine (Kirsten Dunst) which is focussed on her wedding, and the other is titled Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), which is more focussed on the approaching planet of Melancholia potentially being the end of Earth. I don’t have a lot of problems with the movie but I will say that it might be a little overlong, it’s mostly with the first half. The first half is important in showing glimpses of Justine’s depression and all that, however this wedding section feels a little too drawn out and could’ve been shortened quite a bit. You do need to know going into Melancholia that it’s pretty slow paced, particularly early in the movie. Despite the plot sounding large scale on paper, it really is a character driven movie, and is more intimate than you’d think it would be. You have to really be focussed on everything that’s going on or you’re just going to lose interest in it all, I was and I had a good time with it. Melancholia is also a very artsy movie, with the way some of it is written and the way certain things are shown, and that could turn people off, for me it didn’t really. The first 8 minutes is full of just slow moving images and video, it could annoy some but personally I though it was fantastic and really haunting. Now know that I’m basing it off Nymphomaniac and what apparently is in von Trier’s other movies, but Melancholia doesn’t have this overwhelming feeling of just absolute bleakness that’s in his other movies. Nor does it force a ton of thematic elements all at the audience or anything like that. It’s much more straightforward, with the main theme being really about depression, and the parallels of Justine’s depression with the looming planet. Despite it being Lars’s most accessible movie, it’s not necessarily an easy watch, it’s a rather sad movie (as you can gather from the title, it’s not just in reference to the approaching planet) and as mentioned earlier, it’s a bit of a slow burn. There’s a reason why this movie along with Antichrist and Nymphomaniac have been called the Depression Trilogy. Without spoiling anything, despite knowing the ending, the last scene of the movie was really impactful and effective.

The acting all around is fantastic. Kirsten Dunst gives a career’s best performance in the lead role of Justine as someone with depression. A big part of the film is her character going through depression and she carries it incredibly well. It’s not a very showy performance, she just really embodies the character incredibly. Charlotte Gainsbourg is about as equally great as Dunst’s sister Claire. The relationship between the two sisters are one of the driving forces of the movie, especially how differently the two react to the looming threat of Melancholia. Justine seems to feel nothing, whereas Claire is constantly worried about it. The rest of the supporting cast are all great as well, from Kiefer Sutherland as Justine’s brother-in-low husband, Stellan Skarsgard as her boss, John Hurt as her father, Charlotte Rampling as her mother and Alexander Skarsgard as her husband. Most of them are just in the first half, we do however also get Sutherland in the second half, and his performance in Melancholia might be one of his best. The only thing about the casting that bothers me a little is that both Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard are in this movie, but they don’t play father and son or relatives or anything, so it’s a little distracting.

It seems like no one directs like Lars von Trier, his work on this movie is nothing short of fantastic. The cinematography is stunning and beautiful, and is done incredibly well. Some of the editing is a little weird where there are unnecessarily a lot of cuts done in many scenes, which is something that von Trier does sometimes. I guess it’s something that you have to get used to when it comes to his films. Throughout the film there is this sense of dread, with the whole thing about the planet Melancholia potentially going to destroy Earth, and it’s effectively haunting. While his films are usually more gritty and grounded, this film does involve some larger scale elements, with the whole film surrounding a planet potentially colliding with Earth. Now it’s not a full on sci-fi movie and most of it doesn’t have a bunch of crazy visuals, but nonetheless these big visual moments are also done really well.

Melancholia is probably the easiest of von Trier’s films to digest, by far the most accessible. I know this, because when it comes to recommending the movie, I don’t have to necessarily give a big warning about what his movies are like and all that. It is still not the most fun film to watch and it is a little overlong but it’s an incredibly well made and directed film and the performances are fantastic, especially from Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. If you’re open to depressing slow-moving art films, I’d say definitely give Melancholia a chance, it’s really great.

Hold the Dark (2018) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Jeffrey Wright as Russell Core
Alexander Skarsgård as Vernon Sloane
James Badge Dale as Donald Marium
Riley Keough as Medora Sloane
Julian Black Antelope as Cheeon
Macon Blair as Shan
Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Summoned to a remote Alaskan village to search for the wolves that killed three children, a wolf expert (Jeffrey Wright) soon finds himself unravelling a harrowing mystery.

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I recently watched through Jeremy Saulnier’s filmography, he seemed to be getting better with every film and having loved Green Room on rewatch, so I was looking forward to his next film Hold the Dark. It actually wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it really worked for me. It’s very ambitious, dark and haunting, with really great performances and as usual Jeremy Saulnier’s direction really was great.

This is a very different kind of movie for Jeremy Saulnier to be taking on. This is the first film that he’s directed that he hasn’t written, instead the script is written by longtime Jeremy Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair, and the script was really great. It’s based on a book of the same name written by William Giraldi, I don’t know how much the movie differs from the book since I never read it. The plot summary about Jeffrey Wright being hired by Riley Keough to hunt down the wolf who took her child is pretty much just the first act, it takes a very different path after that and I didn’t know this going in. In that it surprised me, and I recommend not going into this movie knowing too much about it. People who are expecting the guy who made Green Room to make a straight forward thriller based in a snowy environment are going to be taken aback at the complex story and the amount of thematic elements to it (the thematic elements I’ll let you find out for yourself). The story is dark, disturbing and haunting, and it just all really worked for me. Something that a lot of people will take issue with is that there are some unanswered questions, especially towards the end. It’s pretty ambiguous with how it ends and I myself am not quite sure about how I feel about it. With that said I didn’t dislike it and I was fine with it, but I can see a lot of people taking issue with it. Also if you’re not completely paying attention to what’s going on, it can be easy to miss some details of the movie. For example, I was paying attention to the movie quite a bit and there was a reveal involving Alexander Skarsgard and Riley Keough’s characters that I missed until hearing it from others after the movie, I don’t know if it was the movie or just me. Saulnier’s films are pretty self contained at around 90 minutes, but Hold the Dark is longer at around 2 hours long. This film takes place over a period of time in various different places, and as previously mentioned is much more complicated. That does mean that the pacing can slow down a little, and some of the tension can be reduced, but it still worked for the type of movie it was going for, and on the whole I was invested from start to finish.

Quite often with Jeremy Saulnier movies, the characters are a little underwritten, but Blair’s script actually gives the main players enough depth. Jeffrey Wright is one of the most underrated actors working together and it’s great watching him lead his own movie. He gives one of his best performances and seems to have a lot going on in his personal life. Unlike Saulnier’s other film protagonists, his character of Russell Core is competent enough for the task ahead of him, yet he still feels rather vulnerable in his situations. I do wish though that we got to know a little more about his character. Alexander Skarsgard is really great and haunting in his role, he’s unnerving when he’s on screen and was such a great screen presence. Riley Keough is also really good in her performance as the mother who hires Jeffrey Wright at the beginning of the movie, definitely deserving of a lot of praise. All the acting is quite great, James Badge Dale is good as a police chief and Macon Blair is also good in a smaller role.

Jeremy Saulnier’s direction is great as usual, Hold the Dark is a much more ambitious film and was on a much larger scale, and he was more than up for the challenge. It feels like it’s convincingly in this snowy and cold environment being rather isolated, it feels very much like Wind River. Saulnier as usual builds up a great atmosphere over the course of the movie, with so many scenes adding to the tension. There is a shootout sequence which is definitely one of the best filmed scenes of 2018. So incredibly tense, violent and captivating from start to finish. I think Hold the Dark might actually be worth watching for that scene alone. The score was done by Brooke and Will Blair, who also did the score to Green Room. Once again it’s really good, suitably chilling and haunting, just like the whole movie.

Hold the Dark is on Netflix and it’s really worth checking out, I know that it didn’t quite work for everyone, but it’s one of my favourite films of 2018. It’s a very affecting and gripping movie, with great writing and performances and fantastic direction. It may not answer all the questions that are posed earlier on, but it nonetheless was an effective movie, and one that I loved. It’s around about at the level of Green Room, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Jeremy Saulnier’s future work.