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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Mads Mikkelsen
Jamie Sives
Gary Lewis
Maarten Stevenson.
Directors
Nicolas Winding Refn.
Screenwriters
Running Time
100 minutes

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Valhalla Rising
Mads Mikkelsen corners the market in gammy-eyed villains...


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Plot
A thousand years ago. One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), an enigmatic, mute warrior-slave, is freed from captivity and falls in with a party of Christian Vikings who set out for the Holy Land but cross the wrong sea and reach America, where they are overwhelmed by the vast land and its potentially hostile inhabitants.


Review
Valhalla Rising
Following the Pusher trilogy and Bronson, Nicolas Winding Refn — Denmark’s second-most committed auteur — turns away from contemporary criminality to deliver a dream of a Viking movie. Valhalla Rising is not the exercise in action-oriented ethnography we might expect from Mel Gibson (who has his own Norseploitation movie in the works) or a tricked-up genre film like Pathfinder (which it slightly echoes) or Outlander, but a hallucinatory, fable-like extrapolation from a single historical fact — a pile of stones on the Delaware shore, well away from where the rumoured Norse settlements in North America were supposed to be.

Mads Mikkelsen, with no dialogue, has to play a mystic archetype, and emerges as a monolithic screen presence, following his Casino Royale villain with another wonky-eye turn — a tethered god of violence who has psychic flashes of horrors to come. One-Eye is the film’s lead, and an emotional tie with a boy (Maarten Stevenson) who becomes his sidekick marks him as a hero, but he could as easily be an immortal trickster guiding this band of venal, violent pilgrims to a realm where they can be appropriately punished. Shot in spectacular Scotland, Valhalla Rising has a gorgeous deep-focus look which harks back to the Vincent Ward of The Navigator and the Tarkovsky of Andrei Rublev. Here, the past is alien and hostile terrain, with people reduced to brutal, impulsive behaviour because their environment, while breathtaking, is unbearably savage.

A cast of battered-looking Vikings show frozen faces in close-up, but are mostly here to die in a horrible manner — felled by arrows, disembowelled with axes, smitten by the elements. But it’s a slow, reflective film which builds from small physical details to a transcendent vision: Refn’s crime movies are theatrical and shot through with fantasy, and this isn’t an overly literal slice of horrible history. Many won’t have patience for it, but it will pick up devotees who’ll watch it over and over.


Extras

Valhalla Rising Valhalla Rising
Released: 30 May 2010
Director’s commentary, along with ‘making of’ and trailer.


Verdict
Valhalla Rising gets into your mind and stays there. You can argue what, if anything, it’s trying to say, but it is impressive cinema.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Valhalla Rising
Empire Star Rating

bad

Worst film ever. Even worse than Solaris. Avoid at all cost. No stars at all for this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theonering at 08:16, 11 September 2012 | Report This Post


woe, woe and triple woe...

Oh my god...the dvd of this film which was released remarkably soon after its release (what does that tell you?) is currently doing the rounds because everyone needs to see what is...that's 'is'...the worst film in cinematic history, past, present and future. This is completely bonkers from grim, grey and boggy beginning, through the indecipherably grim, grey, boggy and foggy pilgrimage to god knows where...how previous reviewers figure out its america and not the holy land is quite the illogic... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Trumpetnut at 22:37, 19 February 2012 | Report This Post


didnt know until i read this that they were in america, i honestly thought they were in hell.great movie but definitely a struggle to get through ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fightclubber954 at 00:56, 27 December 2011 | Report This Post


Valhalla Sinking

What a painful watch this film is, a few scenes of graphic violence and some well filmed scenery is all there is to look forward to. It must have been a love letter from the director to some norse mythology, but to everyone else its just plain boring. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mike87 at 21:44, 11 October 2011 | Report This Post


Hmm, could do better

To be honest, this isn't normally my sort of film - lots of brooding shots of people not saying very much and not much of a story either. However, what really spoiled it for me were the unnecessary plot holes. For example, Mads M is supposed to be this fantastic fighter and yet survives (looking pretty good I have to say) on what appears to be a teaspoon of gruel a day. If that's all the boy gives him, why does he take it up the hill in a HUGE, obviously heavy bucket? Also, the men in the fi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Girlie Bloat at 10:51, 26 September 2011 | Report This Post


A brooding, atmospheric and slow-burning Viking drama, alive with intensity. Mads Mikkelsen is excellent in the lead, silent and still throughout but with a savagery lurking just beneath the surface which occasionally erupts into brief, abrupt, brutal violence. This is a film told in the stunning, haunting and foreboding visuals – the entireity of the dialogue would last about five pages – and it's far from an action movie. Excellent stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Disciple at 18:08, 16 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Brilliant

L: Drew_231 Glad this film is getting some respect here, thanks Spaldron Watched it again after my intital review and enjoyed it even more. Visually stunning, and Mads M dominates every scene he's in without saying a word o probs, happy to big up an awesome moviefilm. ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 18:31, 11 June 2011 | Report This Post


Brilliant

Glad this film is getting some respect here, thanks Spaldron Watched it again after my intital review and enjoyed it even more. Visually stunning, and Mads M dominates every scene he's in without saying a word ... More

Posted by Drew_231 at 16:44, 11 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

Loved this film. When I first saw it on the big screen I was totally blown away. I've watched it a couple of times on Blu-Ray and it hasn't changed my opinion. Sit back, turn up the volume and soak up the visuals and sound. There may not be a cohesive plot to speak of but I think the film is aiming to provide more of a tone or mood than a conventional tale. It's not for everybody but personally I find it rewarding to tune into the film and just let it play out. ... More

Posted by mackey at 10:16, 11 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

Personally its one of the best films I saw last year and I'm going to make a point of getting the BD soon as. TRSMMaiden, I think you should watch it again, then watch Street Fighter and Big Mommas House 2 and y its the worst film ever. ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 01:26, 23 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

MUCH BETTER (personally I thought it was ok, trying ]hard sometimes but it kept me hooked) ... More

Posted by Deviation at 01:01, 23 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

L: Deviation No seriously, it is not. Most hated I can understand, but it is far away from worst film ever, not when Mads Mikkelsen is in the lead.   ell ok worst film ever is an overreaction (especially since I have not seen all the films in the world so cannot say that) but I do know that for me personally I cannot think of a more boring film experience than I had watching Valhalla Rising.  I do not blame the actors though.  I thought the acting was decent enough and ye... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TRSMMaiden at 22:23, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

No seriously, it is not. Most hated I can understand, but it is far away from worst film ever, not when Mads Mikkelsen is in the lead.   ... More

Posted by Deviation at 21:11, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

L: Deviation L: TRSMMaiden Strong contender for the worst film of all time alongside the likes of Alexander and Revolver (two other strong contenders for that title). (ize]] ou really need to watch more films... have seen my fair share of films over the years and Valhalla Rising was that bad imho. ... More

Posted by TRSMMaiden at 21:01, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

L: TRSMMaiden Strong contender for the worst film of all time alongside the likes of Alexander and Revolver (two other strong contenders for that title). (ize]] ou really need to watch more films... ... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:56, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

L: Spaldron cause someone does not like a film that you like (in other words just because someone disagrees with you)re thick (?).Hmm yeah smart answer. quote]Strong contender for the worst film of all time alongside the likes of er and Revolverther strong contenders for that title).es, comparing Valhalla Rising to Revolver is thick ize]. ust stating 2 films I dislike.  I think it is perfectly reasonable to put 2 completely different films in the awful / boring / cr*p / worst fi... More

Posted by TRSMMaiden at 19:26, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

cause someone does not like a film that you like (in other words just because someone disagrees with you)re thick (?).eah smart answer. quote]Strong contender for the worst film of all time alongside the likes of er and Revolverther strong contenders for that title).es, comparing Valhalla Rising to Revolver is thick ize]. ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 18:41, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

L: Spaldron I find it hard to believe that some people hate this film, although there are a lot of thick people in the world. A colossal film, easily the finest Viking film I've ever seen and one of the most well made films the last few years. 5/5 ust because someone does not like a film that you like (in other words just because someone disagrees with you) they are thick (?).  Hmm yeah smart answer. I have already said why I did not like it. A bunch of vikings looking bored ... More

Posted by TRSMMaiden at 10:23, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

I find it hard to believe that some people hate this film, although there are a lot of thick people in the world. A colossal film, easily the finest Viking film I've ever seen and one of the most well made films the last few years. 5/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Spaldron at 03:18, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising - 1 out of 5 - awful

Just watched it at my brothers house.  A bunch of vikings looking bored and depressed not saying much or doing much on land for about half an hour, then on a boat same again for half an hour or so then back on land same again for the final half an hour with equally boring, dull cinematography for the full length of the picture.  How on earth did this film require a budget of 4 million?!?!?!?  Worst film by a mile I have seen well for a long long time since Alexander.  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TRSMMaiden at 02:18, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


A road to nowhere

Not since Lawnmower Man has a film made me want to walk out. I tried to like it, I genuinely did. I embraced the glacial slowness of the start which I mistook as a dramatic buildup. I appreciated the visceral violence of the film, which I felt was justified in any film portraying vikings and/or celts. But, the film didn't speed up nor did it become engaging in any way. The script didn't generate any depth to the characters nor did it further the plot. The script, perhaps, was deliberate... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Privateer at 09:12, 06 March 2011 | Report This Post


Rubbish

4 stars from Empire, barely 1 from me. A pointless film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jonbhoy at 23:21, 04 February 2011 | Report This Post


impressive my backside

boring pretentious twaddle first act: men stand in muddy field second act: men sit in boat third act: men stand in another field almost unwatchable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindlemonpie at 05:25, 20 January 2011 | Report This Post


Its really a love it or hate it kind of film I loved it, the cinematorgraphy is stunning, and Mads Mikkelsen gives a monolithic preformance It does drag in some places and perhaps doesnt have much to say at the end, but I still thoughrally enjoyed it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Drew_231 at 14:18, 10 January 2011 | Report This Post


Deal with it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jcallan at 16:28, 27 December 2010 | Report This Post


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