Vikings: Valhalla review: Great story dampened by political drama

Rating: 3/5

‘Vikings: Valhalla’ revolves around some of the most notable warriors in Viking history as they set forth for England in search of revenge and riches. The series is a follow up to the ‘Vikings’ series and is streaming on Netflix.

Story

King Aethelred (Bosco Hogan), under suggestion from his nobles, carries out the extermination of all Vikings in England to protect their right to the throne against these foreign interlopers. A year later, King Canute (Bradley Freegard) of Denmark calls on all Vikings to join him in Kattegat as the aim for revenge.

A group of Greenlanders including Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) and his sister, Freydis (Frida Gustavsson) arrive in Kattegat for different motives but are sucked into the fight and eventually decide to stay in Norway.

Assisting Canute in his war are Prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter) and his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), both Christian Vikings with their eye on the throne of Norway. Olaf also means to convert all the Vikings to Christianity and make them denounce their pagan beliefs.

In England, Aethelred is on his deathbed and entrusts his wife, Emma (Laura Berlin) of Normandy to prepare for the oncoming invasion until his son, Edmund (Louis Davison) is ready to assume the throne. His right-hand advisor, Earl Godwin (David Oakes), helps Edmund find his feet and Emma carry out her plans as Queen of England.

Performances

Vikings were known to be boisterous characters with a gung-ho attitude and the cast brings that to the fore perfectly. They are so full of life and spirit in the face of war.

Leo Suter is brilliant as the charismatic Harald, always inspiring his men towards glory with his uplifting speeches. He’s relentless on the battlefield but calm and composed off it, showcasing a fine balance.

Frida Gustavsson adds some grit to the role of Freydis. To see her growth from scrappy Viking to effective shield maiden is quite motivational.

Sam Corlett takes a while to get going as Leif, but when he eventually does it is worth it. He has the audience rooting for him by the end.

Laura Berlin adds to the list of strong female roles as she displays a savviness in the face of danger and shows that is fully capable of ruling a country on her own.

There are so many decent performances by the cast with the story truly being enhanced by them all.

Positives

Viking culture has always been synonymous with strong female characters and admirable gender equality which is on full display in this story. Apart from the Viking women, queens like Emma and Aelfgifu are shown to be seriously capable despite the presence of such larger than life men present.

There is some brilliant cinematography with the showcase of vast expanses of land and the city of London quite wonderfully. The war sequences are also shot well although there are some inconsistencies.

The costume department had done a brilliant job of portraying such accurate looks when it comes to many of the Vikings and the contrast between the raiders and the English royalty.

Negatives

The series does begin to taper off once the battles end and the political mind games begin. There is a drop off in intensity despite an honest attempt to make things interesting.

The inclusion of the spiritual journey and the old seer seems completely necessary and does not fit in with the rest of the story. A series more or less grounded in reality could do without this side plot.

Verdict

Vikings: Valhalla is a fun historical series with a few inconsistencies that do not take away from the overall quality. There are some great characters and battles to check out in this look into the past of such a glorious warrior clan.


Also Read: Vikings: Valhalla summary and ending explained

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