Valhalla Rising could have been a great film! The first fifteen minutes are violent, enthralling, and visceral. The beautiful Norse/Celtic landscapes are contrasted with the scarred face of One-Eye, a slave, gladiator, and kill-your-ass-for-looking-at-me-wrong kinda guy. Being a history and religion nut, this film immediately grasped me with conversations about the Christ God taking over and how abnormal Christians were to the "heathens." I mean they do devour the flesh and drink the blood of their "god", which seemed abominable to most pagan religions.
But the religious discussion of the film turned out to be very base, favoring a nihilistic note. This nihilistic tone took the (perfection of the) first fifteen minutes and turned it in the longest hour and a half I have ever spent watching a movie. With drawn out boring sequences where the audience is supposed to "get something deep" out of pretty shots, long stares, and senseless character development. Then when director Refn throws random things in the film such as good ol' male on male viking rape it proves to be an exposè into crappy themes of "indie" filmmaking more than an exploration of Norse (vs Christian) religion, culture, and violence.
By the end of the film if you aren't bored you must be into cinematography, because the film is beautiful (save the constant CGI blood that looks like shit). The film was shot with the RED camera, which is the best showcase of its prowess I have seen to date (F U Book of Eli, bleh). Overall I'd say if you are only mildy into Vikings or history then skip this movie. If you want to have a so called ultra-violent movie as a bedtime story go for it.
And I really wanted to say this movie was Refn Awesome! Instead it was Refn boring...