Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: Valhalla Rising (2010)

Those expecting high-octane Norse axe-wielding will be discouraged by the lyrical and rhythmic Valhalla Rising, a hushed, minimalistic viking travelogue from Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn, who seems to be channeling Terence Malick here with his primal, uncharted landscapes.
Split into six "parts", it charts the journey of an enslaved fighter named One-Eye (Mads Mikkelson) from his initial escape to his partnership with a pack of Christian crusaders bent on retaking the holy land before becoming hopelessly sidetracked.
The film jolts with startling outbursts of brutality juxtaposed against the seemingly peaceful, motionless terrain, and the journey - a desperate, contentious half-quest - is certainly not for the faint of heart, but by its prophecy-fulfilling conclusion, the mood it manages to evoke more than makes up for its middling prophecies and philosophical quandaries. It's frequently dazzling filmmaking. [B+]

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