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Movie reviews: The Northman gives plenty of twists and turns and killings and sorcery

"The Northman" is by director Robert Eggers. If you've seen his prior films like "The Witch" you know his work is visually enticing, bordering on strange.
Credit: Focus Features
Courtesy: Focus Features

The Northman

If you like your epics bloody and muddy, "The Northman" is for you! 

Alexander Skarsgard has been wanting to make this project for years. He stars as a Viking prince out to avenge the death of his father and to save his mother (played by Nicole Kidman). Based on a Scandanavian version of "Hamlet," the story is actually a pretty basic one of revenge. But there are plenty of twists and turns and killings and sorcery before it's all said and done. Skarsgard got into shape reminiscent of his "Tarzan" days to play the vicious warrior. It's all very primitive and, I'm assuming, one of the more authentic looks at Viking culture in the 900s. I wasn't around back then! One of my favorite young actresses, Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit"), adds to the stellar cast as his lover.

"The Northman" is by director Robert Eggers. If you've seen his prior films – "The Witch" or "The Lighthouse" – you know his work is visually enticing, bordering on strange. This one is odd, too, but enticing, too.

(Focus Features. Rated R. Running Time 2 hrs. 16 mins. In Theaters Only)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

If we find out one thing in this clever movie, it's that Nicolas Cage has a good sense of humor about himself! 

In "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," Cage plays a version of his true self. He loses a film role he really wants. Desperate for work, his agent tells him he can make $1 million by just showing up at a birthday party overseas from the invitation of a billionaire who's a huge fan. Pedro Pascal ("Narcos," "The Mandalorian") plays the billionaire. It turns out there's something fishy going on with the billionaire's family, and federal agents – played by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz – enlist his help. Oh, and he's also trying to work through family issues back home.

Adding to the "meta" layers, Cage encounters his younger self from past memorable film roles. Tom Gormican co-wrote and directs the film and is clearly a big fan of Cage. I'm glad the star went along for this ride. He's now in another memorable movie.

(Lionsgate. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 47 mins. In Theaters Only)

The Bad Guys

Speaking of ride, you'll want to hitch one with "The Bad Guys" ... if you can catch up with them! The animated movie is based on the best-selling books by Aaron Blabey. 

A gang of critters are the villains of every children's story: the (big bad) Wolf, the Shark, the Snake, the Piranha and the Tarantula. Together, they're notorious for pulling off any kind of heist around town. Now they're going for the big prize: a golden trophy to be given to a philanthropist at a gala.

Are people just stereotyping them? Maybe they're capable of being "The Good Guys!" 

The mysterious, foxy governor plants the seed. Where some animated movies are tailored for 4-to 6-year-olds, this one has just enough "cool" that even older kids should get a kick out of it. Parents, too. Nice job!

(Dreamworks Animation/Universal Pictures. Rated PG. Running Time 1 hr. 40 mins. In Theaters Only)

   

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