3rd August 2020 (UK)
Fantasy adventure origin story about a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.
Nat Wolff, Priyanka Bose, Iben Akerlie
In André Øvredal’s arduously slow-paced Mortal, Eric (Nat Wolff; Death Note, The Fault in our Stars) struggles understand what’s happening to him when he begins to exhibit displays of extraordinary power. Aided by Christine (Iben Akerlie), a young psychologist, the pair must discover what is occurring to Eric before the authorities catch up with him.
Mortal is devoid of almost any substantial character development. Eric is a brooding cloud of gloom, sulking his way through each scene. There is absolutely no reason to care what happens to this charm vacuum or empathise with his plight. His accomplice, or supposed love interest, isn’t much of an improvement and when on-screen together they have as much chemistry as a Key Stage 1 Mathematics lesson.
Mortal is severely lacking in the action department too. It’s 100 minutes of travelling from one picturesque Norwegian location – its setting being one of the few plus points of the film – to the next, with Eric doubled over in pain sporting extensively charred skin as lightning strikes around him and his surroundings get a bit hot. It’s eventual reveal is hardly a surprise given the synopsis explicitly reveals the story is based on Norse mythology, and there’s some commendation in attempting to tell a well-worn story in a novel way, but I cannot stress just how painstakingly relaxed the pacing of Mortal is.
As a result, tension and conflict feels non-existent and it made me wonder why what the, ahem, Endgame was trying to say. Whatever it was, it failed anyway. Its effects are impressive given its visibly minuscule budget and there are flashes of creativity in its cinematography with unusual angles.
It’s all delivered with the stoney-faced seriousness of an Oscar nominated drama, leaving no room for fun or entertainment. It’s truly a letdown given the directors previous work includes the excellently atmospheric The Autopsy of Jane Doe, the playful Troll Hunter and the well-received adaptation of popular kids book Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.
Mortal did succeed in one other area though. It reminded me of my own mortality, that time is precious and I shouldn’t waste any more of it watching dreck such as this.
Effects are impressive for its low budget
Relatively novel retelling of familiar Norse tale
Characters are charmless shells waiting to be inhibited by inevitable final moment reveal
No on screen chemistry between leads
Severely slow paced