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Series Review: “Vikings: Valhalla” Is Epic, If Hardly Fresh

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 25th, 2022

Series poster: “Vikings: Valhalla”

Vikings: Valhalla (Jeb Stuart, 2022) 3 out of 4 stars.

Continuing 100 years after the events of the six-season Vikings (2013-2020), the Netflix continuation of the franchise, ​​Vikings: Valhalla, finds the viewer in a raging conflict between the forces of 11th-century England and the might of Viking nations seeking to overthrow the kingdom and take the throne for themselves. Loosely following historical figures such as Leif Eriksson, Freydis Eriksdotter, Harald Hardrada and William the Conqueror, Valhalla follows key events of the battle between the English and the Norse, Christian and Pagan, and friends turned foes. While this first season certainly sets us up for an epic journey, much of it feels rushed and works best if seen as a single start-to-finish narrative rather than a series opener.

Certainly, Valhalla comes with the promised spectacle and epic sequences, and I was quite pleased that through this 8-part saga, several grand and fantastic moments take center stage and prove highly enjoyable. I was immediately reminded of the savage and intense scenes found in HBO’s Game of Thrones (on a much smaller scale). The series has great direction and storytelling thus far, and the wide array of characters representing good and evil generates an adequate story to follow.

Leo Suter as Harald in episode 101 of VIKINGS: VALHALLA. Cr. Bernard Walsh/Netflix ©2021

Sadly, Valhalla comes with a tremendously overplayed anti-Christian tone that starts to run its course by the end of the season and leads to some confusing motivation from major villains. The story seems to move at a fairly fast paced almost breezing over major ideas in order to get to the next battle sequence. Towards the end, I felt a great indifference to the abrupt exit of Bradley Freegard as King Canute, and the sudden introduction of Swen Forkbeard (Canute’s father), finding it a distraction from the film’s main plotline.

Overall, Vikings: Valhalla is exciting in its action (with brief introductions of fantasy elements) and gives the spectator what they want with adventurous scenes and well-written character journeys. While it may not be taking its time to fully build its characters, and isn’t overly complicated or thematic in terms of dialogue and the show’s main message, fans of the franchise will find an exciting adventure and their fair share of violent battles. The show, thus far, serves as an enjoyable introduction for new viewers, even if it misses the attention to detail of its predecessor, Vikings.

l-r: Frida Gustavsson as Freydis and Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon in episode 106 of VIKINGS: VALHALLA. Cr. Bernard Walsh/Netflix ©2021

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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