I like a good adventure story, a combination of excitement and drama to fire up the testosterone is great. I also like fantasy and historical stories, I have particularly enjoyed the History Channel's series Vikings and I can't wait for season 2.
Which brings us to Hammer of the Gods.
Hammer of the Gods starts off with the premise that King Bagsecg of the Vikings is losing his grip on Britain and has sent his son Steiner for re-enforcements. Steiner arrives in Britain on a long ship and is met by some Saxon warriors. The combat that follows isn't the worse I have seen, but the choreography was certainly average. While passable for a film of this budget, I suspect people that know or appreciate good sword play may be very disappointed.
This fight scene sets up the central characters; The berserker Grim, The hero Hagen(Clive Standen), The pious pagan Jokul and Prince Steiner( Charlie Bewley) doing his best Travis Fimmel impersonation. After the Norsemen butcher the Saxon warriors, Prince Steiner gazes over the sea slowly filling with Viking longboats and CGI lightning.
|From left to right Jokul, Grim, Prince Steiner and Hagan.|
Steiner and his companions ride off amidst the CGI lightning to find Ivar the Boneless who knows where Hakon is. As they camp Vali is caught sneaking into the camp with the news that Harald was making a deal with the Saxon army. Despite Jokul warning Steiner that Valis arrival is a bad omens the companions venture on to find Ivar
In history Ivar the boneless is one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, who is the central character of Vikings. In this story he was banished from King Bagsecgs army for being 'rapy' with boys. Oh right so its not that historical then? OK sure whatever lets move on.
Ivar will tell Steiner where his older brother is if he enters a peculiar competition. Steiner has three chances to bet Ivar in an arm wrestling competition. Each time he fails he has to take a drugged drink, and if he fails all three times Ivar gets to take him like a woman for the night. Now this appears is taken directly from the computer game Fallout2 and an interesting and uncomfortable scene, but an interesting choice for this sort of movie.
The companions now joined by Mr Rapey and his servant Agnes (Alexandra Dowling who you may have seen recently in Games of Thrones as Roslin Frey, who married Edmure Tully at the red wedding).
So far so average.
And then it all changed. The companions get ambushed by a bunch of masked baddies and Grim dies. It was at this stage I had the uncomfortable feeling that this Viking film was about to got to Hel (get it? sigh never mind). The action was confused and as it takes place in the woods there is almost a cheesy horror feel about it.
The survivors make camp where Hagan finds a Saxon coin dropped by Vali. Pretty much everyone hates Vali except for Steiner. Even Ivar doesn't fancy him. Hagan wants him gone, but Steiner is desperate to protect his little brother. But before this resolved the masked bandeetoes return on horseback and take them all hostage. All except little Agnes who hid. It turns out the bandeetoes are Saxons and they offer Steiner a deal, which he rejects. Agnes rescues him and he rescues the others including Vali who was just about to convert to Christianity.
|Ray Ramanos new project "Everybody hates Vali"|
But it only when Hakon kills Vali (who had just joined his weird cult) that Steiner gets annoyed and they fight. Steiner kills he oedipal brother, then while he is it at it he kills his mum. Then he returns to his fathers camp with Agnes, kills Harold and takes the crown.
I do get what writer Matthew Read was trying to do and say. The whole story is a set up for King Bagsecg to turn his soft hearted son into a king, while ridding himself of his other son and ex wife. Good, great even. That concept is a good Nordic saga right there. But the execution was very poor. The whole film was derivative of the success of the TV series Vikings, but with little of the style.
Part of the story was in a foreign language, Welsh, or old English perhaps, but without subtitles it may as well be in Greek. I think they took some chances with the movie to try and distinguish it despite it's budget, but I think maybe they did too much. Some interesting elements, but I think it was too derivative and too poorly executed. Making Hakon some sort of crazy cult leader was weird and disjointed. The lack of subtitles was distracting and a little boring.
A good idea but poorly executed
3 disappointed Monkeys.