Thursday, June 01, 2017

Don't Accept Offers To Travel From Strangers

Valhalla Rising follows a one-eyed warrior through his time as a prisoner of a Scottish chieftain, to his escape and revenge, to his joining a small band of warriors bent on going to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades. The ship gets lost in a dense mist and winds up in North America (not that they know that), and the members of the party not killed by the one-eyed warrior (dubbed One-Eye), are killed by the locals. Except for a young boy, who fed One-Eye when he was a prisoner, and followed him everywhere after that. Although I can't imagine that kid is going to last long alone in the New World.

The kid also served as the voice for One-Eye, who never speaks. At first, I think the kid is just making shit up when people ask, but by the end of the movie, he seems to intuitively understand One-Eye. Which is impressive since the guy has only three expressions: boredom, disgust/disdain, and darkly amused. And those seem distinguished by whether his lips turn fractionally up, down, or hold level.

Really have to love a Leader recruiting people for a supposed holy mission, and all he gets are people he promised wealth to, or a silent guy who just seems to enjoy killing people. Well, when it's a so-called holy war in the name of a god that was supposed to be about love and forgiveness, you really shouldn't get any true believers in that event.

Every so often, the movie does this bit where there's a sudden cut, and then everything on screen is in a red tint for a few moments. These are visions One-Eye is having of his ultimate end. It works as an attention getter, which means they didn't overuse it. That was a concern I had after the first couple of times. The film looks very good, actually. The colors are extremely vivid, some of which might be manipulation, but some of that might just be the natural landscape. But the natives they encounter are covered in this orange clay, which is striking, but still enough of an earthy color that it doesn't feel out of place. The waters are incredibly blue, and characters' faces will have this soft glow around them. It's more noticeable in night scenes, but it's there most of the time, and it draws attention to the faces, even if they aren't doing much at that moment.

I can't shake the feeling it's an adaptation of some book, the character escaping to make a long journey to their end point. Especially since characters keep describing the land they're in as Hell, and suggesting One-Eye brought them there somehow. Like the crew is Faust and One-Eye is Mephistopheles, but I don't think that holds up at all. But it has that feel to it, even if I'm not convinced it's actually saying much.

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