This weekend, two of the first section of the year’s more notable films are finally hitting screens. First up, there’s Robert Eggers‘ The Northman, which has been hotly anticipated for at least a year. Then, there’s the meta Nicolas Cage vehicle The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Throw in a kiddie option in The Bad Guys, as well as the continued crossover success of something like Everything Everywhere All At Once, and theaters are packed with appealing movies. So, this week’s Awards Radar Community Question is a simple one. If you went to see one of these titles, what did you think?
First up, we have The Northman. A violent viking epic, it’s an auteur working on a grand scale, with results to match. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s truly impressive if you keep an open mind. In my review (here), I had this to say:
Robert Eggers is a filmmaker who has quickly developed a reputation. It’s hardly a bad one, either. It’s simply one that suggests an immersive and singular experience that won’t be for everyone. So, what would it look like if Eggers took at least a small step towards the mainstream? Well, The Northman suggests something still very much his own, while offering up brutal yet crystal clear action. In making a violent Viking epic, he’s found a way to craft a revenge tale that audiences will go for, while not compromising his style. While not quite as weird as The Lighthouse or The Witch (or The VVitch, if you’d prefer), you’ll never mistake this for garden variety studio fare.
The Northman is Eggers doing a Viking version of Hamlet, which is an interesting pairing. On the one hand, it all plays out in a very clear cut manner. Explaining the story here won’t require too much effort and no one will ever scratch their head. Seeing how it’s depicted though, that’s another story. While this isn’t as obtuse as some of his prior flicks, The Northman still sees Eggers doing it his way. That’s a good thing, too. Especially on an epic scale like this, you just never see this sort of a vision allowed to exist.
For my money, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the best film of the year so far. Cage has long been due for renewed appreciation and this incredibly entertaining work is rightly bringing it to him. Truly, anyone who likes him should race to see this. My rave review (here) has the following section contained within:
Nicolas Cage is about as unique an actor as there is. No matter what he’s in, and he’s in kind of everything, Cage gives it his all, turning in work you wouldn’t get from anyone else. That kind of commitment, combined with his singular persona, has made him a figure that almost everyone has an opinion on. Whether it’s derision or worship, no one is indifferent to him. So, in crafting a film about him, for him, and in direct conversation with his fans, it’s presenting something rather bold. Luckily, not is Cage in on the joke here, he’s game to up the ante. The result is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a movie that goes gonzo and meta in equal measure. It may sound like something that shouldn’t work, but it really does, to the point that nothing else in 2022 to date is nearly as good.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is going to utterly delight Cage fans. The amount of his work referenced here, either covertly or overtly, is wonderful. It’s not just Face/Off, either. There’s a Captain Corelli’s Mandolin pull as well. When there’s that much to go nuts over here, the perfect usage of Paddington 2 is just a beautiful bonus. For what this flick is trying to achieve, it succeeds in a massive manner. I was blown away.
Families also have an option in The Bad Guys. Though easily the lesser option of the lot, it’s clearly serving a different purpose, which is worth nothing for those of you with kids. My mixed review (here) included this portion:
Evaluating animated fare clearly aimed at small children is always a challenge. On the one hand, you want to grade a work like that on a curve, since the audience is far from film critics. At the same time, effective storytelling or execution needs to happen, regardless. In the case of The Bad Guys, you have the kind of animated flick that a little kid will almost certainly love. As for the adults? Well, that might be more of a mixed bag. The movie tries to have fun with some cinematic tropes that the older crowd will enjoy, but so much of this plays down to its viewers. Ultimately, it’s just not enough fun to fully recommend.
Folks, it’s a weekend at the multiplex full of choices. No matter what you see, let us know, but especially if you see one of these three options, be sure to chime in. We’re all ears, especially with so many 2020 highlights playing…
What did you think of The Northman and/or The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent? Let us know if/when you see them this weekend!
I liked The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, especially Pedro Pascal, but definitely wasn’t a fan of how the 2nd half stops being about Nicolas Cage almost completely. Would have been content with him just hanging with Pascal for 90 minutes, but I’m very glad that Cage gets this kind of celebration of his career regardless.
Also, I pretty much hated The Northman. The Skarsgard character is kept so distant and uninteresting that the movie becomes an immense plot-driven chore that doesn’t even have the decency to be nice to look at. I can’t believe Eggers made this.
Fair. I loved Massive Talent, but also wouldn’t have hated your version either.
Interesting take on The Northman as well. We’ll likely be discussing it on Tuesday when we record the new podcast episode.