Movie #13: Ragnarok

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It is hardly surprising that people compare Norwegian director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose’s movie Ragnarok to something by Steven Spielberg (most obviously Jurassic Park). Once again we have a scientist (this time an archaelogist rather than a paleontologist) looking to prove his wildly dismissed theories about the past (in this case it’s about the site where a famous group of Vikings most likely died). Once again, two kids are involved: a tween girl and a precocious little boy — ready to recklessly get into trouble or throw tween-age tantrums as the plot demands. Archaelogist and inept-dad Sigurd Svensen is played by Pål Sverre Hagen, who was great (and much more blonde) as real-life ridiculed scientist Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki. When he brings his kids along to the “no man’s land” at the geographical meeting of Norway and Russia, you know they are in for some harrowing excitement as well as some intense family bonding (through crisis). What Svensen finds at the site is not only the remains of a Viking band, but the creature that they appear to have encountered there. With a theme as grandiose as Ragnarok, the Norse “end of days”, I expected a Nordic Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately this Norwegian version of the Loch Ness monster doesn’t quite live up to that promise. Nevertheless, there are a number of exciting obstacles and challenges thrown at our stalwart crew (which are not entirely unpredictable — e.g. what do you think is going to happen when they rely on a local guide to take them to this archaeological treasure site? If you’re picturing Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry, you get a gold star!). Anyway, this movie is suitably enjoyable and thrilling in parts (though the CGI creature effects aren’t going to be winning any awards). The actors are all pretty good and you know that in typical Spielbergian fashion, it’s the family who come out stronger in the end. The Nordic film industry is branching out from the dire, depressing, art-house films to more blockbuster, family-adventure fare, and I couldn’t be happier. (3.5 out of 5)

13 down, 37 to go.

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