An HE “friendo” has seen Robert EggersThe Northman (Focus, 4.22) and is sharing mixed-favorable impressions as far as they go.

“Never discount a true filmmaker, even with studio interference,” he remarks. “It runs 140 minutes and I was never bored, and that means something these days. It feels, obviously, very familiar, as it’s based on the legend of Amleth, which inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it’s incredibly welldirected.

“What The Northman lacks is the artful ambiguity of Eggers’ first two films, The Witch and The Lighthouse. The influence of studio notes is apparent throughout.

“But it’s not that much of a slog, and despite a little too much CG with a climax happening at the mouth of an active volcano…two naked men fighting, not the best ending…Hollywood doesn’t really make epics of this kind any more.

“You can tell Eggers wanted a more elevated, visually-driven movie but the reshoots made it more ‘entertaining.’ Hopefully a director’s cut shows up someday, more of a pure Eggers version.

“The off-the-top influences are Hamlet, Gladiator and Games of Thrones.

Alexander Skarsgard’s lead performance is stellar. Ethan Hawke, as Skarsgaard’s murdered king-father, is in the film for maybe 10 minutes. Nicole Kidman, Hawke’s wife-queen, has a few scenes (her screen time comes to roughly 20 minutes) that she just nails. Anya Taylor Joy cuts a vivid figure.”

How many heads are split open with axes? “I’d say about a dozen,” he responds. “The killings are extremely brutal. A fair amount of intestine spilling.”

There’s some kind of nod to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he reports, and the skull of Yorick makes an appearance.

The Northman’s review embargo lifts on April 11th.

French-dubbed trailer: