A friend showed me the trailer for Ragnarok and the next day I owned the Norwegian blu-ray. That’s how I roll, fast and brutal. Anyway, this film is out right now in the US, on VOD, theaters etc, but I couldn’t wait. No siree, I just couldn’t wait to own it. So what’s odd with this film? It’s family entertainment, but it’s also a monster film… so I couldn’t stop myself. Magnet Releasing in the US is also comparing it with Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and The Goonies...which is a bit cocky considering it’s nothing like it. Especially not the last two! But fuck that, what we have here is a quite well-made family adventure which lives mostly on the gorgeous locations, and for me deep forests and valleys is enough to like a movie.
Sigurd (Pål Sverre Hagen) is an archaeologist who’s obsessed by the Oseberg Ship (a real viking ship found in 1904) and he’s sure it has more to tell then what everyone even can imagine. When an additional rune stone is found in the north of Norway, in Finnmarken, it delivers the last key to the mystery and he, his two kids, his best buddy and assistant travels out in the wilderness to try to find out what the stone wants to say and if there’s any clue to what Ragnarok actually was… maybe there’s some truth about the end of the world anyway?
Ragnarok sure looks good. It actually looks fabulous and that alone would generate some positive reviews. I liked it also, but at the end I felt it was missing something. Maybe it was the involvement of Swedish money and creative forces, because where the movie would have gone one step more into awesome territory it steps back like there was a boring Swedish producer standing in the background somewhere complaining it’s not real enough for him. The presence of Sofia Helin, who is a terrible, terrible, terrible Swedish actress gives the movie an even more awkward atmosphere and it seems to spread to leading man Pål Sverre Hagen who mostly stares and blinks very slowly. I like Bjørn Sundquist, who plays the guide, but his character is also very underwritten and when he finally leaves the story he’s instantly forgotten. The best actors are actually the kids - who manages to be 100% non-annoying. Also watch out for Jens Hultén (who I actually made a very bad movie with many years ago) as a viking in the flashbacks, he’s a great actor - but could have used more screentime.
Ragnarok creates a nice mystery and builds slowly up to some cool revelations. The idea of the Soviet/Norwegian no mans land is cool and the sets and locations are super-classy and triggers the imagination. When the monster finally appears it looks great, in the same quality as bigger movies from Hollywood. It actually looks damn nice! The action is nice and it’s never really boring, but still…fuck, they could have done so much more! Why not let the monster hunt them into town? Now it’s just a couple of trees getting damaged - and the inside of a Soviet bunker. The characters aren’t interesting enough to root for, so why not some more destruction instead?
If it did continue the build-up the way it should have been and not became more Swedish at the end it would have been much, much better. Now it’s a good movie, well-made and delivers some fun. It’s also great they’ve took the time to make a blockbuster-type of movie in Scandinavia about local mythology.
But that’s it. A pity.