Fantastic Fest Review: Ragnarok

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Heavily influenced by the likes of creature-filled adventure films like comes Ragnarok out of Norway.  The film isn’t “horror” but packs enough giant monster or nature-run-amok thrills to garner genre fan attention.

Inspired by the discovery of the Oseberg Ship excavated in the early 1900s, the film focuses on Sigurd Svendsen, archeologist and single dad.  

After losing grant money for a museum project, he faces a demotion until his close friend, Alan, makes a discovery upon the Oseberg that may prove the Vikings may have traveled farther than many believe.  Clues containing ancient runes prompt Svendsen to pack his bags, his daughter and his son and mount a treasure hunt to a small island protected by an enormous, deadly creature.

Ragnarok hits all of the right beats and makes for a pleasing adventure.  Svendsen is an amiable character to stand behind.  You already feel bad that he lost his wife to cancer and he does the best he can with his kids – both of whom are cute and not grating on the nerves by any means.  The love interest the film pushes on him – an explorer named Elisabeth – isn’t forced and comes naturally.  Alan proves to have a few interesting shade to him as well.

It takes its time setting itself up and establishing the scenario, but once everyone lands on the island, Ragnarok kicks off an exciting pace that’s sometimes broken by scenes of downtime that kill the momentum.  Still, there are a lot of action set pieces that work well, offering nods to films like Cliffhanger and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  The “monster” is particularly cool, as well.

Although a bit long, Ragnarok is a smart, fun film rooted in an egaging mythology.  Certainly a surprise from the director of Cold Prey 3, Mikkel Brænne Sandemose.  I would not be surprised if this is the film that launches a career for him in America.


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