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Valhalla Rising (2010)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring:
Mads Mikkelsen/One Eye
Maarten Stevenson/The Boy
PLOT-CRUNCH
A mute, one eyed, warrior (Mads Mikkelsen) is kept prisoner and forced to fight for sport by a "big meanie” Scottish clan. He escapes his captors with the aid of a young slave (Maarten Steven) and the unlikely duo eventually tag along with a group of Christian Vikings. The whole lot embark on a not so merry journey in search of Jerusalem, in the name of reclaiming God’s land … nothing wrong with that! Alas, what they find instead is HELL! Yeehaw!
THE LOWDOWN
After a long night of drinking with buds; I woke up early the next morning with one of the worst hangovers I’ve had all year. My gray matter was mush and my motor skills were null. So being that I was a useless heap of flesh; no good for anything; I decided to stay in bed and watch my last movie of 2010; Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow up to BRONSON; VALHALLA RISING. And what an ideal choice it was in light of my then battered disposition.

For the first ten minutes or so of VALHALLA RISING; all I kept thinking was: What the f*ck am I watching over here??? Were last night’s drinks spiked with GHB or was I truly witnessing what I was seeing? Well, winds up I wasn’t chasing the Dragon after all; this was a warped and hallucinatory-ish Viking movie with a unique rhythm, an aloof nature that challenged my one brain cell, a deliciously horror-ish tone and hardly any dialogue or music going on. Not an obvious piece of work, that’s for sure! And thankfully, the flick eventually took over me like Pazuzu penetrating Reagan's...um...soul... and I became one with it. The best way I can describe this one is Terrence Malick meets David Lynch by way of Hearts of Darkness.. on acid that is. What a warped bad trip this was! I can TOTALLY understand how some would loathe this picture. It had a snail pace, not much action and the HOW, WHO AND WHY as to the narrative (which was slyly divided up into five chapters) were beyond vague. But for some reason; all of that jive came together wonderfully and worked in its favor for my sorry ass.

The themes of Faith in God versus disbelief in him weren’t hammered my way; they were hinted at; strongly enough to sting and make me do the work. Same went for the shady statement on colonization and the “Are they in hell or not?” query. Hint, hint… no concrete answers. Yup, to spit out that VALHALLA RISING was an experience left up to one’s interpretation would be an understatement. The flick was ALL ABOUT that shite and I loved it for it! I got my take on it ; I think its a solid one, all good. Visually; this one was morbid art set in motion. The striking scenery (those mountains were wow) and the eerie atmosphere (that mist…brrr) helped in making this watch an even more compelling one. The imagery was so hypnotizing that the slow burn pace never bothered me once; I was always deep in there; heart and spirit; living the ride. Moreover, the high quotient of brutality hit the spot. It in fact often made up for the lack of physical action. Every time high grade violence would kick in; it would back-hand me stupid and I'd be a wiser man for it. And it should be said that you have to esteem a director that’s able to tackle varied genres this efficiently. Where Bronson was an energetic character study, with a fairly kinetic camera; Nicolas Winding Refn took a polar opposite approach to Valhalla Rising which was a surreal, symbolism heavy and style over substance effort. One that was all about wide shots; slow infectious camera movements and oppressive atmospherics. The man’s got range…respect!

On the acting front; the whole cast was credible (Maarten Steven as the slave-boy was particularly money) and their portrayal of Vikings on a quest of Faith rang true. But at the end of the evisceration; this was Mads Mikkelsen’s show through and through. The man oozed of menace, silent intensity and had “Don’t f*ck with me or else” stamped on his forehead. I feared him, looked up to him and wanted to buy him a beer. Add to that a brilliant sound design (the wind blowing never came off creepier) and a seldom yet unique score (industrial metal mixed in with tribal beats with a dash of spooky) and you get one hell of a death trip! Any negatives to spew? Not really. Maybe the affair was too hazy for its own good in places; or maybe not. Not sure, who cares!

For better and for worse; VALHALLA RISING was its own beast, it played by its own rules and really didn’t give a frick about pleasing anybody but itself…all good; cause I got lots of juice out of it. It was pure art house/auteur filmmaking with a macabre streak, supernatural undertones, gore galore and enough surreal bullets in its chamber to fill up five bong parties. Wanna get high with Vikings? Why the f*ck not!

GORE
We get skulls crushed with rocks, a nasty evisceration, severed heads, slit throats, a head on a stick and stabbings. A vicious movie.
T & A
We’re treated to some occasional nudity (naked corpses) and the ladies (and everybody else who chews the beef) get shirtless dudes. All I remember.
BOTTOM LINE
What can I say? VALHALLA RISING made for an unsettling and bleakly stunning end of the year surprise! Bizarre, aloof, depth filled and as violent as Mel Gibson after a bottle of Tequila; I don’t think I’ve tackled a trippier or more unapologetic (as to its nature) flick this year. And I dare ya to take your eyes off Mads Mikkelsen during your watch! The man OWNED this movie and then some. Again; this celluloid bad trip is obviously not for everybody; I can see how the snail pace and indistinctness would turn many off; but it got the job motherf*cking done for this jerk. I must own the DVD! So ya wanna tweak with the Devil? Hop on this boat!
BULL'S EYE
This was Nicolas Winding Refn's 7th feature-film

Mads Mikkelsen also starred in Winding Refn's Pusher.

Valhalla means: The hall in which Odin received the souls of slain heroes.

Mads Mikkelsen played another character with a damaged eye, Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006).
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1:19AM on 02/22/2011
Watched this one on two hours of sleep, without shower, and with a horrible toothache so I was feeling this one pretty good for sure.

Definitely an artsy cool picture but don't expect the key to all of life's mysteries to unfold like some people on the internet will have you believe.

People playing that card are just trying to look intelligent in hopes of nailing the cool chick in their class.

(interpretation spoilers)
Removing any higher powers at work nonsense, a group of
Watched this one on two hours of sleep, without shower, and with a horrible toothache so I was feeling this one pretty good for sure.

Definitely an artsy cool picture but don't expect the key to all of life's mysteries to unfold like some people on the internet will have you believe.

People playing that card are just trying to look intelligent in hopes of nailing the cool chick in their class.

(interpretation spoilers)
Removing any higher powers at work nonsense, a group of violent, bicameral men with really bad navigational skills and no Weatherchannel end up in America instead of Jerusalem. The American natives don't enjoy their company and proceed to kill the ones One-eye didn't. (hey, you f-ers were warned!)

On the other hand, if you took the spiritual,Gods at work, we are in hell approach, I'm sure you have already drawn your own conclusions so I won't attempt to comment here.

This movie definitely has enough for both angles, just be patient.
Your Reply:



3:31PM on 01/28/2011
Cool flick, a bit slow after the first 1/3rd, but I apparently was smart enough to still find it engaging.
Cool flick, a bit slow after the first 1/3rd, but I apparently was smart enough to still find it engaging.
Your Reply:



7:29AM on 01/03/2011
I'm sorry , but with exception to the first quarter of this movie, I was bored out of my mind! Maybe I'm just not deep enough to get this but I kept hoping this movie was going somewhere, alas, I felt as lost as those Vikings did in that fog. Sorry Arrow I didn't dig this one :(
I'm sorry , but with exception to the first quarter of this movie, I was bored out of my mind! Maybe I'm just not deep enough to get this but I kept hoping this movie was going somewhere, alas, I felt as lost as those Vikings did in that fog. Sorry Arrow I didn't dig this one :(
Your Reply:



+0
7:15AM on 12/29/2010

4

Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after
Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after he denounces the Christian God. Odin, realizing that his time was over in Scandinvavia, decided to travel to the New Land (the America's) hoping to start anew, but discovered that the people there were already set in their ways, and realizing that there was no place left for him in the world, accepted his fate.

Also, Mads had one hell of a performance. Good to know someone else enjoyed his acting as much as I did.

-Peace
Your Reply:



+0
7:06AM on 12/29/2010

4

Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after
Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after he denounces the Christian God. Odin, realizing that his time was over in Scandinvavia, decided to travel to the New Land (the America's) hoping to start anew, but discovered that the people there were already set in their ways, and realizing that there was no place left for him in the world, accepted his fate.

Also, Mads had one hell of a performance. Good to know someone else enjoyed his acting as much as I did.

-Peace
Your Reply:



+0
6:58AM on 12/29/2010

4

Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after
Nice to see a positve review.

Like you said, it is certainly open to interpretation.

If you don't mind, this is what I got from the film (spoilers):

One-Eye is the Chief Norse God, Odin, but he's only as strong as his followers. Since Christianity started running rampant through Scandinavia, he was lowered to the position of slave, and the reason that ppl thought he was deaf was b/c they no longer believed in him, except for the boy, and later on, the Crusader that can hear him after he denounces the Christian God. Odin, realizing that his time was over in Scandinvavia, decided to travel to the New Land (the America's) hoping to start anew, but discovered that the people there were already set in their ways, and realizing that there was no place left for him in the world, accepted his fate.

Also, Mads had one hell of a performance. Good to know someone else enjoyed his acting as much as I did.

-Peace
Your Reply:



3:04PM on 12/27/2010
I am glad to see someone else dug this movie as much as I did.
I am glad to see someone else dug this movie as much as I did.
Your Reply:



12:39PM on 12/27/2010
Can't say this one was for me, it started off awesome with some crazy visuals and brutel violence and then by the end I just got frustrated with its bad trip style. Although that skull crushing was the most realistic one I've seen in a movie.
Can't say this one was for me, it started off awesome with some crazy visuals and brutel violence and then by the end I just got frustrated with its bad trip style. Although that skull crushing was the most realistic one I've seen in a movie.
Your Reply:



12:06PM on 12/27/2010
it was a bad trip of a movie, loved it!
it was a bad trip of a movie, loved it!
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