Hammer of the Gods Blu-ray Review
After a brief prologue in text (a nearly impossible yellow over black, for what it’s worth) to let the audience know the story will take place in 871 A.D., HAMMER OF THE GODS jumps right into a battle complete with swordplay, blood and sweat. We’re introduced to what will become key characters, who have names like Grim, Jokul, Hagen, and Steinar.
Steinar (Charlie Bewley, THE TWILIGHT SAGA) is the son of King Bagsecg (James Cosmo, who played Jeor Mormont on HBO’s GAME OF THRONES), who led his army against the Saxon resistance. After he ends a rival’s life with the help of a rusty sword, Steinar gets word that his father has been seriously injured. When he visits, he’s told the British Vikings, under the guidance of a strong leader, must gain back the land they lost. Steinar steps up, but Bagsecg, knowing Steinar doesn’t have the ability, tasks his boy to find his brother, Hakan (Elliot Cowan, ITV’s LOST IN AUSTEN), who Bagsecg believes to be the rightful heir to his throne.
And so, fearing he’ll be grounded and have his Sega Saturn taken away, Steinar sets off with Grim (Michael Gibson, History’s HATFIELDS & MCCOYS), Jokul (Guy Flanagan, ITV’s THE BILL) and Hagen (Clive Standen, Starz’s CAMELOT) in search for his brother through the dangerous and dirty land.
On their journey, they discover just what has come of their country and encounter several “omens.” The cold nights seem to always end with campfire gatherings, where the men spit crude language the same way a pre-teen would when first using the words out of adult earshot.
But anyone viewing HAMMER OF THE GODS (not to be confused with the Syfy movie of the same name) wants the blood and guts and action promised on the cover art. There is plenty of all of it, with enough bashes and clashes and slices and dices to please the target crowd. (There’s even arm wrestling, although it doesn’t end with anyone’s wrist snapping to bits.) The primary downside of such scenes is that so much is obscured, whether because of the colors (one sequence, about halfway through the movie, is colored almost entirely in a shade of blue that hides much of the blood) or the photography. The camera shakes and jitters so much (particularly in the opening battle) that the viewer is left trying to figure out with who’s maiming who.
HAMMER OF THE GODS is directed by Farren Blackburn, who also helmed half of BBC Three’s series THE FADES, for which he shared a BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series. His feature debut doesn’t live up to any potential hype that award brought him and is instead a poorly written (by Matthew Read, who himself has a BAFTA Award), photographed (by Stephan Pehrsson, who lensed THE FADES) and executed (by Blackburn himself) work.
HAMMER OF THE GODS is over-the-top, loud and filthy, apparently because that’s what Blackburn and Read expect such a movie has to be like. It wouldn’t be sensible to anticipate subtlety in a movie whose tagline is “A King is Born of Blood,” but we should at least want the heroes to survive.
HAMMER OF THE GODS BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Despite not having the budget of a more mainstream movie, HAMMER OF THE GODS looks terrific in 1080p. Details in flesh, costumes and locations come through without fault while the colors all seem accurate.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clean and without disturbance, while all of the mayhem of the battle sequences comes through surround sound speakers with full force.
Making of HAMMER OF THE GODS (21:54): This featurette goes behind the scenes of HAMMER OF THE GODS through interviews and on-set footage.
Behind the Visual Effects (6:16) looks at the special effects of HAMMER OF THE GODS and the role they play in the movie.
Interviews: Stars Charlie Bewley, Clive Standen, Guy Flanagan, and Michael Jibson sit down for individual interviews to discuss their characters and working on HAMMER OF THE GODS.
AXS TV: A Look at HAMMER OF THE GODS (3:03) is a brief promotional piece.