Review: Hammer of the Gods
Hammer of the Gods is a new action-packed Viking film from director Farren Blackburn (Doctor Who, Luther) that stars Charlie Bewley, James Cosmo, Elliot Cowan and Clive Standen.
The film follows Steinar, a Viking prince who arrives in Britain to find his father dying after a distaruous battle. Deciding that neither Steinar or his younger brothers are suitable to succeed him, the king tells Steinar to go find his banished older brother Hakan instead, he shall be king. So, swearing to find his brother, Steinar sets off with three good friends into the dangerous, brooding landscape…
The film starts, before a word is even said, with a bloody battle between Steinar’s cohort and some Saxons who they meet on their arrival in Britain. During this scene we’re introduced to each of the Vikings, with their names appearing as they fight and beat their enemies. I thought this was an interesting opening that seemed to sum up the film what to expect in the film, and was also quite useful as I knew who was who later on.
I really liked that fact, that the film did not seem to have a typical hero. Steinar could have just been the stereotypical man of honour, but instead he comes across as more complex. He believes in reason, not in the Christen god of the Saxons or even the Norse gods, which is something I did not expect in a Viking character. He shows himself to be an intelligent and merciful man, who ultimately has to become tougher as the quest tests him and his friendships.
Visually, the film is very atmospheric. The chosen locations, lighting and cineamtography create a dark, rough lanscape that is definitely wild, and in which our heroes seem small compared to the vastness of the land. This not only looks stunning, but brilliantly reflects the gritty, more realistic tone of the film.
The fight scenes were also good, realistic and grisly but not gratitiously gory – I particularly liked the fight in the woods where the Vikings used some more interesting moves. However, the film is nicely balanced out, with Steinar’s emotional journey and the possiblity traitor in their midsts creating tension and drama on screen when they’re not fighting, and allowing for those quiet moments too.
To sum up
I found Hammer of the Gods to be an entertaining watch – it looked stylish, had a great main character and had plenty of intrigue. A good film for Viking and action fans, and those who don’t normally watch those genres. The DVD also has special features, that include extended interviews with some of the cast, a making-of and a look at the FX.
Hammer of the Gods is out now to buy on DVD.