Poland, in the 9th century. Prince Popiel and his Viking tribe, subjects the land and its people to a reign of terror. In order to ensure that his son becomes heir to the throne, Popiel wipes out anyone and anything that stands in his way or threatens his evil ends. However two men, army commander Piastun and a young warrior outcast called Ziemovit, band together to take on the Viking hordes and ultimately the gods themselves, with cataclysmic results. Brrrrrrr - exciting! Er, no. Not really.
As a publication which covers fantasy, horror and Sci-fi, STARBURST has an obligation to advise all its readers of what's new on the market. Most of the time, fortunately, this is not an arduous task - who doesn't like spending their time watching movies. However sometimes you feel as though it is something that just has to be done, like going to the dentist (though at least you have the benefit of knowing that your six monthly check-up is doing you some good). The same, unfortunately, can't be said for sitting through Army of Valhalla. In fact not much can be said about it at all. It's neither good nor bad - it's just... nothing!
In the wake of recent films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, everyone thinks they can produce an epic fantasy. Gather a few rugged, broody, 'Abercrombie & Fitch' males, some sultry girls, dress them in this seasons eco friendly fashions, give them a few horses and drop them into a forest setting. Hey presto, with a bit of Enya-esque incidental music, you have a sure fire hit. Well no, it's not that easy. Come on guys, even the straight to DVD market, for which this film is clearly aimed, should make more effort than that.
Can I find nothing in the film's favour? Well there are some lovely shots of wild animals (and no, I don't mean the 'Abercrombie & Fitch' males) and the said forest setting is beautiful. But I wasn't expecting to sit through an episode of Nature Watch (though that might have been just slightly more entertaining).
Everyone knows (though not all would admit publicly) that Britain produces some of the best film and television in the world (even if we do complain about the copious reality shows and re-runs which clog the box on a Saturday night). No one does a period film or historical adaptation better than the Brits. However when you view something like Army of Valhalla, and realise that films (which usually cost a lot more than television productions no matter what language you speak) from a lot of countries look like extended episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, it makes you glad you don't have to watch their actual television!).
I make no apologies for such a short critique. I really can find nothing else to say, and no real reason as to why anyone would want to spend and hour and a half watching this. If you're really keen on Nordic / Viking-esque fantasy do what I'm going to do and save yourself for next years The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - if you can hold out that long.
Army of Valhalla is released on DVD on the 18th of July