For those fans of the cult-fave television show Vikings in search of a Norse warrior fix until the new season, they should consider a new cinematic offering from Anchor Bay Canada entitled Northmen – A Viking Saga on Blu-ray (released on August 11, 2015). Northmen stars Tom Hopper (Black Sails) as the leader of a band of Viking raiders who become marooned on the coast of Scotland after their ship capsizes during a storm. Upon reaching land, the group comes under attack and is forced to kidnap the daughter of the King, with hopes of claiming a ransom, only to be pursued by the King’s savage mercenaries tasked with retrieving his daughter.
Although a first glance, Northmen might not seem like a worthwhile affair for viewers, but after indulging in the Blu-ray one might be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer. For starters the movie itself is fairly decent. Northmen moves at a good pace, and while not overly violent in the realm of say Braveheart, it is infused with strong action/fight scenes and good visual sequences. With South Africa subbing in for Scotland as a shooting location, the movie is set in a gorgeous landscape environment; adding to the epic scope of the material nicely. The storyline is a fairly simplistic one (it’s relatively a chase movie), but Northmen proves to have entertainment value if you are a fan of the medieval genre.
It doesn’t hurt in the slightest that Northmen is the recipient of an outstanding high-definition technical presentation in both video and sound for the Blu-ray. With an aspect widescreen ratio of 2.40:1 and 1080p clarity, the film’s image is beautifully bright, colorful and finely detailed down to a specific grain of sand in certain shots. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mode is also an incredible powerhouse, full of major bass, sweeping music score and sound effects when called upon. There are times where these aspects almost drown out the dialogue for the film, but luckily the balance manages to hold on enough for a viewer to not struggle hearing it.
The only area where the edition lacks is the bonus content. Northmen only contains one bonus feature; a behind-the-scenes segment that was shot on location with cast interviews about the project. The feature is good, but not long and it doesn’t feature all of the cast who participate but a few of the key players chime in. However, the edition could certainly have used some input from the creative parties of the project to discuss either the shoot or the genesis of the film (an audio commentary might have been a welcome addition to the disc).
Ultimately, Northmen – A Viking Saga accomplishes what it sets out to do. It provides an entertaining film set in the Norse warrior subject matter and is rewarded with a technically proficient Blu-ray edition that certainly enhances the film-watching experience. It may not be a home-run option for a consumer looking to add it to their shelf collection, but followers of Vikings could certainly use it as a means to satisfy their viewing craving between seasons.