No guys, this is NOT the John Hodgman comedy special about jokes, no matter how many times you ask me. Yes, the word “ragnarok” is pretty badass, but multiple people can use it for their movie! Instead, the “Ragnarok” that I’ll be talking about is a Norwegian film that I went to see because the description involved both Vikings and H.P. Lovecraft. Vikings and Lovecraft? BOTH OF THOSE THINGS ARE AWESOME. Why wouldn’t I check it out?! Oh yeah, even though it wasn’t listed in the film’s description, there were a lot of beards in the movie. Makes sense with all those Norwegians talking about Vikings. Having gone into the film relatively blind, it ended up being one of my favorite movies of the whole festival. Not a perfect film or anything, but really accomplishes what it sets out to achieve.
Those Vikings sure knew how to make some cool-ass boats.
As a museum curator, Sigurd Svendsen (Pål Sverre Hagen) doesn’t get as much time as he wishes to spend on two of his favorite things: his family and proving that the Vikings traveled further than history has so far led everyone to believe. Despite putting his job in jeopardy, Sigurd has a stroke of good luck when a friend turns up with a rune that could be the clue to Sigurd proving what he’s felt all along. Knowing he must investigate the evidence, Sigurd goes on an expedition to follow this lead, and with his wife having passed away from cancer, is left with no choice but to bring his children with him. While tracking the necessary leads to prove where the Vikings really did travel, Sigurd eventually finds what he was looking for in a cave full of Viking weapons and armor. Unfortunately, Sigurd realizes that this cave serves as a tomb to fallen Vikings and after spending too much time there, he learns what it was that killed them all. Sigurd and his family must find a way to get out of there with their lives intact, and hope to change history in the process.
What’s that you’ve got there? Is that…a…a Ragnarok? Is that what those are?
What a bunch of fun! I can’t really think of a better way to describe this movie than “fun”. The first half of the film plays out like an Indiana Jones film, with Sigurd tracking down clues, exploring the wilderness, double-crosses, and at least a little bit of real-life history. The second half plays out more like Jurassic Park, with a group trying to escape a huge monster and the constant near-misses, close calls and improvised escape tactics. As soon as the movie was over, I wanted to go out and buy a battle axe and smash things while pretending I was a Viking. For a somewhat low-budget film, the CGI was pretty decent and the landscape was gorgeous, and the whole cast was solid. I had no idea who Pål Sverre Hagen, and even though I just had to copy/paste that name again because there’s no way I’ll remember it, he made a great leading family man type and his kids in the movie were also quite good.
Watch out! Behind you! It must certainly be a Ragnarok!
The biggest strength of the film would have to be that it was Norwegian. Maybe not that it was Norwegian, but that it was definitely un-American. Not that it was anti-American, but–okay, let me clear this up. For all intents and purposes, I’m just going to call this a family adventure film. When we get these movies released in America, it’s bullshit like Journey to the Center of the Earth or Spy Kids or…Jesus, they don’t release many family friendly adventure films these days, do they? Points is, when you’re an adult and you see the trailers for one of those movies, you grown about all of the fart jokes JUST IN THE TRAILER, or the fact that there’s going to be some sarcastic humor in there. The beauty of Ragnarok, and I’m assuming partly because it’s coming from a different country, is that the film is completely devoid of that sarcasm or cynicism. Maybe it’s because family adventure films aren’t a genre that’s been exploited in Norway the way it’s been exploited here, or maybe because the filmmakers didn’t want to cheapen their film by winking at the audience, but whatever it is, it didn’t go unnoticed and definitely went appreciated. Yeah, sure Ragnarok is a family adventure film, but it’s one that’s super fun, sincere, and explores some myths unfamiliar to the American audience.
Wolfman Moon Scale