The Northman – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

The Northman

 When I reviewed the film back in April, I said that “The Northman contains a special Viking magic that invites audiences to lose themselves in this slow-burn odyssey of vengeance.” Upon my second viewing of the movie, my thoughts have relatively stayed the same.

The Northman is an intoxicating mixture of arthouse style and a large-scale epic. While that may sound like a must-see film for cinephiles everywhere, it may not resonate well with general audiences. The film is a slow-burn, dialogue-heavy character study that doesn’t have a ton of epic action sequences. So while general audiences may see Northman and think of Braveheart, the film is more akin to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Its comparison to Hamlet makes so much sense since the play depends on the cast’s performances. In a way, it’s the same with the film, and the actors step up to the challenge. From someone with an enormous role like Anya Taylor-Joy to Willem Dafoe’s minor appearance, the entire cast brings their A-game to their respective roles. It’s especially true for Alexander Skarsgård, who gives a career-defining performance as Amleth.

Overall, The Northman is a film that caters more to an arthouse crowd than general audiences. That’s not to say that the film won’t please everyone, but the style and pacing may bore some people. Nevertheless, Robert Eggers does an impeccable job combining an arthouse style to give us an (almost) historically accurate Viking epic that we’ve never seen before. 

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

The Northman - Claes Bang

Video

The Northman hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfer and a 2.00:1 aspect ratio. Throughout his short career, Robert Eggers has used natural or simulated natural light to illuminate scenes. Thus, the shadows and light are visually a crucial part of his movies. Dolby Vision enhances the highlights and light, making it distinct even in the darkest scenes. Also, despite the dimly lit settings, there is still a sufficient amount of detail in the shadowy areas.

Similar to how they lit the film, the colors also have a natural tone. No enhancements were made to raise the saturation of the colors, but they still look rich. The gloominess of the film provides the picture with a cool tint. At the same time, there are also tons of rich green pastures and periodic orange and red from the various fires. There’s also an exuberant number of fascinating details celebrating the look and feel of the Viking culture. Every bit of them comes through clearly in this Ultra HD release.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

The Northman - Alexander Skarsgård

Audio

The Northman hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect The Northman‘s Dolby Atmos track. Throughout the film, the Atmos mix seemingly places you inside the action. Sound effects pan and revolve around the soundstage from the overhead channels and at ear level—adding to the overall immersion. The height effects are limited primarily to encompassing you within Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough’s harmonious score and the hypnotic “skol” chants. The atmospheric effects are distinct, and all sound wonderful. Accompanying the various battle scenes is a hefty punch of bass from the subwoofer—adding to the feeling of the film’s brutality.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

The Northman - Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy

Special Features

The Northman‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray has the following special features on it:

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
    • Fjölnir and Hallgrímr at the Slave Shed
    • Yule Mummer Dance and Aurvandil’s Speech
    • Vikings Hide Langskips
    • Fjölnir’s Dream
    • Bosa Saga Extended
    • Aurvandil’s Ghost
    • Fjölnir and Gudrún
    • Gudrún Tucks Gunnar In
    • Hel’s Gate Open
  • An Ageless Epic
  • The Faces of Vikings
  • Amleth’s Journey to Manhood
  • Shooting the Raid
  • Knattleikr Game
  • A Norse Landscape
  • Feature Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Robert Eggers
Features Assessment

The deleted and extended scenes don’t necessarily add anything to the film except for one major thing. There are surprisingly several deleted scenes featuring Nicole Kidman’s Gudrún’s character. Ageless Epic is a broad look at the overall production of the film. It covers many topics, but the most intriguing subject is the discussion about the origin of the project. At the same time, Norse Landscape is another in-depth featurette about one of the unsung heroes of the production process, the location coordinators.

Faces of Vikings is the less fascinating featurette in this release since the cast doesn’t go into much detail about their characters. They talk a bit about their characters and also their love of working with the other cast members. Amleth’s Journey, Shooting the Raid, and Knattleikr is a more focused behind-the-scenes look at the production of these particular scenes. The commentary with Robert Eggers is an extended version of the Ageless Epic featurette. It begins sounding more like a vocal version of Pop-Up Video with Eggers talking about the historical accuracy, particular shots, and Easter eggs. He speaks in short bursts, but over time, the commentary starts to sound like an actual director’s commentary.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, The Northman is a historically accurate sword-and-sandal epic that’s actually quite good. It may not resonate with everyone, but those who would give it a chance may be surprised by what they find. The video and audio presentations are fantastic, and you’ll find several quality bonus features in this release.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Northman is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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