DVD REVIEW: RAGNAROK – THE VIKING APOCALYPSE / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: MIKKEL BRAENNE SANDEMOSE / SCREENPLAY: JOHN KARE RAAKE / STARRING: PAL SVERRE HAGAN, NICOLAI CLEVE BROCH, BJORN SUNDQUIST, SOFIA HELIN / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2ND
In recent years, Norway has slowly and quietly been positioning itself as a contender in the world’s genre movie market with the likes of Dead Snow and its sequel, Troll Hunter, and now Ragnarok: The Viking Apocalypse. With Norway’s rich history and folklore, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t capitalised on its legends before. And it doesn’t this time… well, not quite.
The film’s title is somewhat misleading as it only features a very small facet of Ragnarok. With the exception of the Viking-prolific prologue, the film is firmly entrenched within its contemporary setting with nary a horned helmet in sight, let alone the end of the world. Archaeologist Sigurd Svendsen (Hagen) discovers a rune from the many artefacts found with the millennium-old Oseberg long boat, which roughly translates as “man knows nothing.” Coincidentally, his colleague Allan (Broch) finds an artefact that proves that Vikings travelled to Finnmark, the northernmost part of Norway and an area that was supposedly Viking-free.
Thinking that the two artefacts are connected, Sigurd, along with his two children, Allan, fellow archaeologist Elisabeth (Sofia), and grizzled rifle-toting guide Leif (Sundquist) travel to the little explored border between Norway and Russia. Once there, they find much more than the evidence of Viking occupation that they were hoping for.
Director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose evokes the spirit and feel of the post-Raiders of the Lost Ark action/adventure movies boom and creature features wonderfully well. But that is also the film’s downfall. Instead of producing a homage to ‘80s adventure movies, as J.J. Abrams did so successfully with Super 8, Sandemose seems to have used those films as a template. This gives Ragnarok a strangely dated quality. The characters also feel as though they are displaced in time, most obviously evidenced in Sigurd’s daughter, whom is a petulant teenager to begin with until, like so many petulant movie teenagers before her, she metamorphosises into a decent human being by the film’s conclusion. The same is true of rifle-toting guide Leif, who you just know will succumb to greed and meet an untimely demise. Plot spoilers? Well only if you’ve watched nothing but natural history documentaries all your life.
All in all, Ragnarok - The Viking Apocalypse isn’t a bad film and makes fun viewing. The cinematography is sumptuous, the lead characters are likeable, the performances are fine, there’s action aplenty, the troublesome creature is used sparingly but not too sparingly, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome being a respectable ninety-odd minutes. It’s just a shame it isn’t a great film, which it had the potential to be.
Special Features: TBC
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