Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is Ragnar the New King Arthur?

Recently the History channel started airing a new television show called Vikings. Set in the 700s-800s, Vikings is a historical drama based on mythology and storytelling. This show is at times violent and other times NSFW for other reasons; but its interesting storytelling and has characters you're automatically invested in. Since it's created by the History channel the bar for realistic portrayal is higher and at times not met, but not so missed that a viewer is disgusted and refuses to watch any further.

The main point of this post though is about the focus of the show. The main protagonist is Ragnar, and up and coming Viking leader who at times echoes a similar mythology to that of King Arthur. His wife and his brother (blood brother or brother in war - idk) have an awkward relationship which might lead to a love triangle of sorts. He is well liked by his peers and makes a good war-band leader. In addition to these things, he must overcome the spineless and do-anything-to-stay-in-power earl who controls his village. But in the process of this he must also appear to be the better man and therefore win the hearts of the show's viewers much like the stories of King Arthur have won the hearts of children for hundreds of years.

Ragnar, Vikings

Ultimately, when I pose the question is he the new King Arthur, the similarity is primarily based in the popularity of the character. Not just in how popular he is among his peers but how popular this character might become among the general viewing public. If this show becomes popular enough then maybe tales of Ragnar will spread through current generations like tales of King Arthur spread through previous generations. Probably not, but it's interesting to think about.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer

Over the weekend I went and saw Jack the Giant Slayer. While this is a familiar story I was hoping it would be re-envisioned for today's viewers. I did not go in with many expectations (just one that I'll get to later), I was not pleasantly surprised with the final result. While the poster suggests that the female character in the story is going to be strong and capable, in the film she consistently screams "Jack!" and acts very helpless. He continually has to come to her rescue because he's the "hero" of the story. It's kind of like a neanderthal wrote this script. I don't understand why fantasy films continue to have such weak female characters. Even the spineless villain fought better than she did.

Another complaint I had was the illogical or rather the unprepared response the kingdom has to the giants. Supposedly these giants had attacked the kingdom before but this castle was not prepared to fight this foe again. There were no giant walls, and most of their weaponry was pointless. I mean, they arrowed a guy until he fell into the fiery moat but he still survived. These people didn't even have a catapult. How unlikely is that? They did have a rapid-fire archery machine. Well they had two of those until the giants took them out with a slingshot. The majority of the battle was a tug of war over the drawbridge during which no one shot fiery arrows (even though they shot them into the moat to ignite the oil they dumped in the water) and very few arrows were shot before and after the momentary appearance of the rapid-fire archery machine. The arrows should have been flying constantly it was almost as if they had few military tactics and it was surprising that a big group of anyone hadn't taken over the kingdom prior to this point.

The only saving grace of this film (and my one expectation) was that Ewan McGregor was awesome.

 Okay, so I know he can never do any wrong and this film is clearly not of the same caliber of "Beginners" and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" but he still brought the charm, humor and adorableness that makes him consistently the standout in a film.

Long story short, I probably wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unless they were big fans of the main actors or they wanted to know how not to write a female character in a fantasy.