Northmen - A Viking Saga (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 1-Apr-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Behind The Scenes-x 5 short EPK featurettes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 97:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Claudio Fäh
Studio
Distributor
Entertainment One Starring Tom Hopper
Charlie Murphy
Darrell D’Silva
Ken Duken
Leo Gregory
Ryan Kwanten
Anatole Taubman
Ed Skrein
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Marcus Trumpp


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     A group of Viking raiders is caught in a violent storm and shipwrecked on the coast of Scotland. When the survivors, including the leader Asbjorn (Tom Hopper), the older warrior Gunnar (Darrell D’Silva), the archer Thorald (Ken Duken) and the disgruntled Jormund (Leo Gregory), scale the cliffs they are immediately attacked by a party of soldiers owing allegiance to the local ruler King Dunchad. The Vikings defeat the soldiers and discover that they had been guarding a locked wagon; inside the wagon is King Dunchad’s only daughter, Inghean (Charlie Murphy), who is being taken to an arranged marriage. Asbjorn believes that they should be able to ransom Inghean and use the money to buy their way into the Viking settlements in the Danelaw south of Dunchad’s territory. But Dunchad has other ideas; he dispatches his elite mercenaries called the Wolves, led by Bovarr (Anatole Taubman) and the psychopath Hjorr (Ed Skrein), to track and kill the Vikings and, if necessary, to kill Inghean as well.

     Making their way south across the moors and through forests with Inghean the Vikings encounter bandits and a Christian monk (Ryan Kwanten), who has exceptional fighting skills and for some reason offers to help the Vikings. When the Wolves catch up, it becomes a tense game of chase, ambush and battle as the Vikings race towards safety while the body count, on both sides, keeps rising until the Vikings, and the Monk, make their final stand against the Wolves.

     The plot of Northman – A Viking Saga is straightforward, the characterisation one note and the directing, by Claudio Fah, delivers nothing new. He is mostly a short film or TV director, although he does have Hollow Man II (2006) with Christian Slater on his CV if that is a recommendation. Fah’s favourite technique in Northman – A Viking Saga is a wide helicopter panning shot of small figures on a big landscape backed by epic music, something he does enough times for even Peter Jackson to be envious! The dialogue is also somewhat lame and acting functional from a cast that is made up of actors whose CVs are mainly TV. The exceptions are probably Darrell D’Silva, as the berserker Viking Gunnar, and Australian Home and Away alumni Ryan Kwanten who does a good, athletic job as the warrior monk. To my mind the main false note is Ed Skrein who, in a cast who are being natural (or as natural as you can be as a Viking raider), is all hammy expression, hoarse voice and nervous ticks; psychopaths don’t have to act like a psychopath to be effective as a bad guy!

     But, to be fair, this is a Viking film and so one expects action, blood and gore, expectations that are pretty much met. Northman – A Viking Saga wastes no time on exposition or backstory; it starts with a violent storm at sea and really never lets up from there during its just over 90 minute running time. There are fights on cliff tops, in forests, on open moorland, around a waterfall and against men on horseback plus a spectacular attack on a small fortification and a fight on a wooden suspension bridge. These fights are thus quite diverse; they are generally well staged and chaotic and are quite brutal and bloody (earning the film its MA rating) using a variety of weapons including swords, axes, spears, staffs, knives, bows and arrows, a crossbow, booby traps, stakes, rocks, flames and whatever else comes to hand! Fans of battle action will not feel short changed!

     If you would like an action packed adventure, with Vikings, Northman – A Viking Saga definitely delivers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Northman – A Viking Saga is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The detail of the print is impressive, with every dirt mark and blood spurt finely detailed. Colours have been manipulated. The exteriors have had the colours lessened; they are quite light and brightness is accentuated, although forests are a deeper green. Interiors, such as Dunchad’s castle, are very brown looking and skin tones under lights look brown / yellow. Blacks are exceptionally black, shadow detail very good, contrast and brightness consistent.

     Other than some slight ghosting with movement against mottled surfaces such as trees or fire I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     White English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is a choice of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English DTS-HD MA 2.0. I listened to the 5.1 track.

     The audio is very good, loud and enveloping. From the opening storm the surrounds and rears exploded with music, the waves, the clash of weapons, horses’ hooves, arrows flying by and impacts with blunt and edged weapons while even in quieter moments there was always the creak of leather equipment. Dialogue was centred and easy to hear and the sub-woofer added depth to the music, the crash of the waves, hooves, fire and the destruction of the tower.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

    The orchestral score by Marcus Trumpp was epic and thus well supported the visuals. There were a couple of songs over the end titles, both featuring cast members: one by Johan Hegg and Swedish metal band Amon Amarth, the other performed by Darrell D’Silva.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All of the extras are short EPK featurettes, with on-set and film footage plus soundbites from cast and crew. The depth of the information can be gauged from the first one below which, in just over 1:30 minutes, manages to fit in comments from the director Claudio Fah and 5 cast members!

Behind the Scenes (1:34)

     How much fun everything was!

Don’t Mess with the Northmen (1:57)

     Something about the Viking genre. More like a trailer, plus comments from the director and 7 cast members!

Northmen in Action (3:06)

     A bit on stunts from Anthony Mo Marais (stunt coordinator) and 8 cast members.

Tune up the Northmen (1:46)

     About the film’s score, including a heavy metal song and video (which is not on this Blu-ray), with a producer, the composer Marcus Trumpp and cast / performer Johan Hegg, who is the singer with Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth.

Vikings v. Wolves (3:09)

     Nothing to do with four legged wolves, but a synopsis of the film’s plot with the director and 9 cast members adding comments.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US release of Northmen – A Viking Saga has Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio instead of our DTS-HD MA 5.1 and it adds Spanish subtitles. It also seems to have combined the extras into one Northmen – A Look Inside which runs 11:57. Call it a draw.

Summary

     One expects a Viking film to be full of action, blood and gore, expectations that are pretty much met in Northman – A Viking Saga, a straightforward but action packed adventure that starts in the middle of a storm and seldom drops its pace from then until the climax. Fans of action will get their money’s worth!

     The video and audio are excellent. The extras are short EPK type featurettes, but nothing much else is available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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