Ragnarok (UK DVD)


Ragnarok UKStarring Pål Sverre Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofia Helin

Directed by Mikkel Brænne Sandemose

Distributed by Studiocanal

When the culmination of his years of research into the mysterious disappearance of the Oseberg vikings results in little more than a few leads and a mysterious, carved message – “Man Knows Nothing” – archaeologist and single father Sigurd Svendsen (Hagen) finds his funding pulled from under him by his outraged backers.

But he isn’t about to just give up on his life’s mission, and after some personal investigation alongside his friend, Allan, Sigurd manages to uncover what he believes to be a map hidden in the runes of some ancient relics. Along with Allan (Broch) and kids Ragnhild and Brage, Sigurd sets off for the suspected location of the legendary “Eye of Odin”, where he believes the remains of the vikings will be found. Along the way, the group meet up with Allan’s assistant, Elisabeth (Helin), and local guide Leif (Sundquist) before setting off into the glorious Norwegian landscape in search of their treasure.

And as fate would have it, Sigurd isn’t wrong. The Eye of Odin exists, and it is indeed where the Oseberg vikings met their end. Unexpected by everyone (except the audience, it would seem), greed fuels internal struggle; and soon Sigurd, his son, daughter and pals are abandoned in the caverns at the centre of the Eye of Odin… and their presence has drawn the attention of an ancient guardian that is none too pleased with their meddling.

Mikkel Brænne Sandemose’s Ragnarok has drawn many a critical comparison to the work of Steven Spielberg, and in particular Jurassic Park — and such comparisons are more than apt. It’s a thoroughly accomplished film with some excellent cinematography and breathtaking natural environments whose scope and scale offer a real sense of our main characters heading on a grand quest. The setup is very similar to the aforementioned dino-fest, with the main character and his two kids, alongside the fitting love interest and friend, placed in some very difficult-to-escape peril and the hungry chompers of a giant reptilian antagonist.

Sandemose wrings some effective tension through this peril – something certainly helped by the eminently likeable natures of the lead characters and his cast’s performances. There’s a real dynamic between them, and Sigurd’s sense of responsibility and devotion to his children very much rings true. Obviously, things can’t go too far as Ragnarok is, in essence, a family-friendly flick – so while there is indeed a massive monster on the loose, you’re not going to get any gory goods, nor even a Jurassic Park-style chomping for good measure. That’s perhaps indicative of Ragnarok‘s biggest issue – it consistently plays it too safe throughout the final stretch.

The Spielberg influence is there in spades, and the formula hardly ever deviated from, making much of the affair very easy to predict. The body count is low and all kills ostensibly off-screen. The ending, too, takes a rather mushy turn that is robbed of all tension by the film’s consistently harmless approach once the two main tension-building set pieces are over and done with. It’s defiantly uninventive, yet formidably adept at its chosen formula.

And when it’s at full steam, Ragnarok is a thrilling adventure. It looks great, the cast are admirable and the creature effects and design are excellent. Alluded to as the potential influence for the Midgard Serpent (also known as Jormungand) in Norse mythology, the massive beast that inhabits the Eye of Odin is a sight to behold and should make this a more than pleasant diversion for monster movie fans – especially if they’re looking for something that allows them to get their creature feature fix while remaining accessible, suitable and enjoyable for the whole family.

It’s a shame that the film throws pretty much all of the actual mythological and viking stuff out the window once the beast is on the loose – there’s really no threat of the actual Ragnarok of legend kicking off here – but it’s a perfectly solid effort at recreating a (modern) classical Western adventure film on Northern shores. Check it out.

Unfortunately, the only extra that Studiocanal saw fit to include in their release of Ragnarok is a trailer for the film.

Special Features:

  • Trailer

  • Film
  • Special Features
User Rating 3.62 (13 votes)


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