I’ve had a fascination with Norse mythology for some time, certainly long before the Thor movies came out in the Marvel film franchise and much like Greek mythology, I like to take in as much as I can. This started in primary school, was back in the late 80s and early 90s, where we briefly learnt about the folk from Asgard.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a great battle that ends in the death of all of the major Gods, including Odin, Thor, Feryr, Heindall and Loki, followed by the beginning of the new world. Don’t be fooled though, despite the name this film has nothing at all to do with the aforementioned Norse Gods, instead it’s effectively a monster film.
I must admit to being a bit sceptical about this because any Norwegian film that I have seen hasn’t exactly been as good as I had hoped, including Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter), however, it would be harsh to judge every movie coming from one country simply because you didn’t like another.
The one thing I would highly, HIGHLY recommend is that if you are going to watch this, watch it with the subtitles as the English dubbing is diabolically terrible.
Following on from an unsuccessful demonstration to his museum’s funders, Sigurd (Hagen) receives a visit from fellow archaeologist Allan (Broch) after he has found a rune from northern Norway that could prove that Vikings did indeed visit that part of Scandinavia.
The pair, accompanied by Sigurd’s kids, tour guide Leif (Sundquist) and fellow archaeologist Elisabeth (Helin) travel to Finnmark, one of the most north-eastern parts of Norway, and explore an island in a restricted area of the forest. The group soon finds a plethora of Viking artifacts and plan on taking them back to the museum.
As they prepare to leave, they are betrayed by Leif as he steals all of the artefacts. He is soon killed by an unseen create when trying to re-cross the lack. The rest of the group soon realise that something is trying to keep them from escaping and it becomes a battle to survive against an ancient creature.
So, is it any good?
Ragnarok is one of those nothing films really. It’s there. In some aspects I did like the film but in others I found it a below par, but I’m going to start with the positive aspects.
The story itself isn’t that bad to be honest, it’s one of the more original monster movies that I have ever seen and to be honest, right up until when the monster, which resembles a mix of a dragon and a snake, kills Leif, you don’t get any clues that there is anything unusual going on. Up until that point I was actually enjoying it for the most part and if I’m honest, as soon as it turned into a monster movie I lost a lot of interest in the film. That’s not to say that the monster isn’t good, it’s one of the most vicious that I can recall seeing in a movie in recent times, but at that point it just lost something.
Aside from that the only positive I can think of is the casting of Hagen and Broch as Sigurd and Allan respectively. Both actors approach their role in a calm way and this laid back approach comes across really well, with a particular highlight being their excitement when they find the Viking artefacts actually feeling very genuine. Hagen in particular impressed me as what I can best describe as a mellow-Indiana Jones approach.
That’s where the positive part of this review ends.
From being impressed with Broch and Hagen, I go right to the other end of the scale with not only the character of Ragnhild, but Berglyd’s portrayal as her. Child actors have a habit of near enough single-handedly ruining the movies that they are in, Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds springs straight to mind, and whilst Berglyd doesn’t reach that same level of annoyance, she runs it pretty close. The only reason I don’t class it AS annoying as Dakota Fanning was because Fanning always has a smug “I’m better than you” look on her face in any film she is in, she’s under the impression that she’s an amazing actress. She isn’t.
There are a lot of aspects that this film steals from the Jurassic Park franchise (more on that in a minute) but the most relevant to this point is that no female character dies (seriously, none of the female characters in any of the three Jurassic Park films has died) and nor do any of the children, regardless of how irritating they are. I really wish the character of Ragnhild would have died….early. She almost single handedly takes this film from being a 6/10 to a 2/10 due to her constant nagging, pessimism and being a selfish, little twat.
She irritates throughout and it’s summed up with an incident right at the beginning of the film when she ironically calls her father selfish for the simple fact he wants to discover something incredible for his country rather that taking her to Spain on a holiday. Throughout she is entirely negative, adds nothing but a nagging voice and I would go as far as saying that I have now reviewed more than 50 films for this site and I’ve not hated a character as much, not even in Frank.
But anyway, I mentioned two paragraphs ago that this film steals a lot from the Jurassic Park franchise, but there are two major plot points from Jurassic Park 3 that Ragnarok outright steals. The first of which is that Allan decides to steal an unhatched egg of the monster and not tell everyone, and (SPOILER ALERT) at the end the monster has no interest in eating the protagonists, but instead leaves them unharmed when they return the now hatched offspring (END SPOILER)
The film is full of clichés and you can call things happening before they have actually happened, such as when the characters are traversing a wire to cross the lake and one slips half-way through. I knew as soon as they started going across that that would happen, but the one thing that I would see in the scene’s favour is that when the monster is coming up to snap at the dangling person, the water pressure and swirl changes as it speeds up, whereas in most Hollywood films they just appear without it affecting the water.
My final point is the pacing of the film and that it’s all wrong. There are some moments where nothing happens for a long time and then there is non-stop action for long time. Whilst the film isn’t supposed to be an outright thrill ride throughout, and it doesn’t claim to be, it’s lack of correct pacing means that when something does happen, you don’t feel the sense of urgency that the situation warrants, and just as you start getting that adrenaline rush, it’s right back to the slowness.
I can see why this film has been rated as average by so many. I, like many others according to the reviews and posts on IMDB, were completely mislead by the title and the film has precisely nothing to do with Greek mythology. The only thing about lying about what your film is actually about is going to do is piss people off. I first saw this in a local Asda store a few weeks ago and they were charging £10 for it. Imagine buying this for £10 and then find out that even the description on the back was incorect.
Infact, it’s like a ying-yang, every positive is countered with a negative. The good acting of some actors is outweighed by the terrible acting of others, and scenes where something genuinely interesting happens is countered by long, drawn out sections of the film that don’t move the film along at all. It’s 85 minutes of nothing in many ways.
I’m not even entirely sure what to rank it as because it’s not a horror film and it’s not really science fiction.