Lionsgate // 2013 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 6th, 2013
The battle has begun.
Fine. I know that whatever is contained on this DVD is almost assuredly not going to feature badass Vikings running around in a huge battle with axes and exploding warships behind them. I've had plenty of low-budget movie disc cases lie straight to my face. I know what to expect.
Sure enough, A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day is not what the disc cover depicted. In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite. Vikings are in this, and I'm pretty sure one of them is hoisting an axe or two, but the film is as small and intimate as a staged reading of Flowers for Algernon.
Here's the skinny. The Vikings are indeed up to no good, sacking and smashing, but they haven't found the biggest prize of them all -- a legendary book, guarded by the Saxon priests, that holds the key to some manner of awesome power. With the interlopers hot on the trail of the book, a young monk takes it deep into the wilds of Britain and joins up with some other Saxons who agree to escort the scared priest and defend him and his cargo from the bad guys.
And that's it. The saga doesn't necessarily belong to the Vikings, but to the priest. It's essentially a road movie. The road here is the woods of England and it's more like a stroll through the countryside rather than a full on chase film.
Yes there are some light action sequences, but a gory mess is not what director Chris Crow is after here. There's the real stinger in all of this: despite its unfortunate marketing, A Viking Saga isn't crap. The production is legit, far from a shoddy also-ran that typically masquerades as something more for similar straight-to-DVD offerings. The filmmakers are confident in their vision; they're crafting an authentic glance into the Dark Ages and getting some actually characters to parade around in decent-looking period-specific grab. That sounds snarky, but, seriously, I can appreciate what's they're going for. Would I have preferred an awesome, blood-drenched Viking/Saxon donnybrook? Sure! Who wouldn't? But there's room for a smaller scale sojourn through the landscape and A Viking Saga scratches that itch.
DVD Specs: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 Surround, and a hefty behind-the-scenes featurette.
It's not going to drop jaws and the audience will be narrow, but A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day is well made and faithfully traipses into a fascinating slice of history.
Not guilty. Also, not for everyone.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
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