AS FAR AS I CAN RECALL, I’VE ALWAYS HAD A FASCINATION WITH NORSE MYTHOLOGY

Norse mythology has always been one of the most immaculately created, well thought out and highly detailed mythologies in the world. It has some of the most significant and the most incredible pieces of history that have ever been created. There’s something genuinely engaging about the story of Odin All Father and the way he created this world. The stories of the world tree and its historic significance to the Norwegian/Swedish residents in the 10th Century was genuinely hearttouching, and more than anything, the fictional media that came from these myths.

You can find Norse mythology in every medium of entertainment. Youcan find it in the fantastically made Marvel Cinematic Universe films such as

Thor, you can find it in video games such as God of War (2018) and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and you can find it in television series such as Vikings, The Last Kingdom and of course, the newly released Vikings Valhalla on Netflix. It’s hard to justify why this series exists, but I think I’ve come to a decent realization about it.

Vikings Valhalla is essentially the product of Netflix having Vikings on their platform for a while and realizing how incredibly popular that show is. Vikings is a series that took a lot of time and effort to get into the mainstream, but once it took off, it did not let off for a single moment. However, Netflix realized that having Viking themed shows is something that people like, and they created this series. This however did not pan out well for them, as they would quickly realize that people are looking for series that have contextual and sub-textual weight to them, instead of bloated cookie cutter stories with just another Norse design that essentially do nothing different.

VIKINGS VALHALLA SYNOPSIS:

While on the surface level, you may be assuming that Vikings Valhalla is a continuation of the popular History Channel series Vikings. In a way, you’re not exactly wrong. The story does take place after the events of Vikings, however it is completely unrelated to the original Vikings series. In fact, the only correlation between the two series is that they are based in the same universe, which is just real life. The historical events that shaped history were done by Ragnar Lothbrok, a famous Viking leader who journeyed through the seas and found his way into England. Vikings Valhalla on the other hand follows a new group of survivors. These Vikings also live in the English land, ruled by an English king as they follow the commands of their overlords to live together in peace and harmony in a shared England.

The thing that gives Vikings Valhalla an advantage over Vikings itself is the writing team. This particular series has an actual writing theme as compared to the showrunner writing every single piece of dialogue himself. This makes sure that the dialogue is much more engaging and the conversation scenes lead to some extremely exciting content. However, the plot itself and the events depicted here are genuinely black and white, not showcasing the complexities that Vikings managed to do with its interpretation of characters such as Ragnar, Rollo, Ivar and even Athelstan.

A REVIEW OF VIKINGS VALHALLA

A few aspects of filmmaking that make this series better than its predecessor are genuinely a breath of fresh air. Especially because during the last few seasons, Vikings became extremely stagnant and essentially lost its way in a fray of many different things that it was trying to commit to. This particular time, the story has an actual theme to it. Retribution isn’t just a concept, but rather a driving force for Vikings Valhalla. That makes this series much more compelling in its plot and its characters. However, Netflix’s way of showcasing the story is much more simplistic than Vikings had previously done, which gives the original series an edge.

A REVIEW OF VIKINGS VALHALLA

It cannot be understated that Ragnar Lothbrok and his journey of discovery is what made the original series so fascinating when it began. That series showcase the man who had a passion for discovering new things, new lens, new people opportunities to bring his people to a higher living standard. However, it also portrayed deeply how the obsession that he creates with discovery is what leads to his eventual demise. In Vikings Valhalla, this isn’t the case, rather it’s a simple story that focuses extremely on the retribution arcs of the main characters.

Instead of a biographical look at the life of some important figures, Vikings Valhalla chooses to dive straight into a narrative that is much more concise than it has ever been in a Viking story. It follows an era of turmoil and war that has ravaged the lands of Europe. The English painstakingly massacre a large colony of Vikings that are situated in England. This leads to one of the largest gatherings of Viking soldiers who gather their armies and march to London. While the original story featured Ragnar and Rollo, this time around we’re put into the shoes of siblings Leif and Freydis.

While not as charismatic or exciting as the protagonists, the two do a great job of conveying and moving the plot forward. The story revolves heavily around Harald Sigurdsson’s siege of London, and how one of the most brutal battles came in the wake of a hostile massacre of innocent people that shook the English world. The show has a penchant for violence, and it does not shy away from showcasing that violence in many different forms. It does not pull any punches in its depiction of war, massacres, and brutality that can find an actual place in English history. Not to mention, the depictions of war here are genuinely some of the most terrifying that I’ve seen in a while.

Vikings Valhalla showcases a desperate, broken and highly volatile world where people resort to acts of violence at the slightest signs of hostility. It is a world full of conflict, with people resorting to some of the most depraved acts of brutality. This is why following these characters and their stories would have been so important, because it places you in the shoes of young people during an era that is horrifying. However, unfortunately due to the poor pacing and the writing that is displayed at times here, the characters can feel very unknown and one dimensional.

CHARACTERS

At first I thought that I would enjoy following the characters in the series common especially because they were fresh faces with fresh personalities that I was excited to know more about. However, as time went on and I went deeper into the series as story, I realized that the characters are quite one dimensional and that their motivations and personalities don’t really align. Take for example the character of Leif, He’s a headstrong young man who wants nothing more than to protect his sibling. Yet when it comes to making any decisions, he doesn’t really seem to have the power, nor does he want to have it. He’s protective but he is not willing to go over and be protective.

The same can be said for Harald, who was a decent character when compared to the rest of them. He seems to have motivations of his own, but the main driving force behind this character is revenge for what happened in England. The Saxon massacre of the Vikings staying there was something that drives his story. Yet when it comes to taking action, he does exactly the same as any of the other characters, just stands around and waits for very long periods of time. Freydis also gets caught in this storm, however her character is a bit more headstrong and the one thing that makes her stand out more than the rest is the fantastic performance by Frida Gustavsson.

The performances in this show are hard to like, in particular the two main characters who are supposed to be carrying the show. Both Leif and Harald as characters are mitigated by poor performances by their actors. It’s not that their performances are horrible, they’re not Tommy Wiseau from ‘The Room’ level of bad, but they’re not intense enough like you would expect from a Viking saga. These are supposed to be characters with very intense storylines, some of the best and some of the most stressful moments in history can be traced back to this particular era. The fact that these performances don’t hold much of a standard when compared to the original series, is a bit of a slap in the face of ma y fans who were expecting better from their favorite franchise. Of course, it’s not just the performances but also the writing. For the most part, the writing feels much better and much more fluid than in the original Vikings series. However, a lot of the monologues and the speeches here feel very underwhelming when compared to the original.

This might also be a performance issue, because Ragnar Lothbrok was such a phenomenal character and the performance by Travis Fimmel solidified him as one of the greatest antiheroes of modern television. However, when you compare that character to any of the characters in this series, it’s simply not even close enough due to the lack of charisma in the way these characters are written, and the lack of personality that they showcase despite having a decent plot and backstory that they have going for them.

VISUALS

However, visually speaking, this series is just as striking as the original if not better. This is one particular department where this series genuinely overtakes Vikings and delivers something extraordinary. Vikings Valhalla has one of the larger production budgets that Netflix could let out being made on a more than $50 million budget can be very helpful when you’re making a period drama like this. However, the camera work is quite underwhelming when compared to the original.

It’s not as if the original Vikings series was a masterwork of camera angles and unique framing, but it just had a bit more personality to its design. It focused a lot on the characters and the way they expressed themselves, giving us close up shots and faraway shots to showcase both their body languages and their facial expressions. However, given that the acting is not as good in this series, it’s fair to say that the showrunners saw that and realized that they had to zoom in to the characters way less than they had been doing before. This results in a series that looks like it doesn’t focus on the main characters often, and feels less symphonic than the original.

But that being said though, some of the set pieces and the action choreography here is absolutely stunning. Battles are gritty, gruesome and full of some of the most intense use of CGI blood and guts that you will find on TV. The show looks and breathes Viking warfare. That is what pushes it over the finish line.

VISUALS

However, visually speaking, this series is just as striking as the original if not better. This is one particular department where this series genuinely overtakes Vikings and delivers something extraordinary. Vikings Valhalla has one of the larger production budgets that Netflix could let out being made on a more than $50 million budget can be very helpful when you’re making a period drama like this. However, the camera work is quite underwhelming when compared to the original.

It’s not as if the original Vikings series was a masterwork of camera angles and unique framing, but it just had a bit more personality to its design. It focused a lot on the characters and the way they expressed themselves, giving us close up shots and faraway shots to showcase both their body languages and their facial expressions. However, given that the acting is not as good in this series, it’s fair to say that the showrunners saw that and realized that they had to zoom in to the characters way less than they had been doing before. This results in a series that looks like it doesn’t focus on the main characters often, and feels less symphonic than the original.

But that being said though, some of the set pieces and the action choreography here is absolutely stunning. Battles are gritty, gruesome and full of some of the most intense use of CGI blood and guts that you will find on TV. The show looks and breathes Viking warfare. That is what pushes it over the finish line.

VERDICT

VIKINGS VALHALLA NETFLIX'S Mediocre Dive Into Norse Mythology

Vikings Valhalla is a series that has immense potential to grow and become better than its predecessor. It is a series that focuses much more on the plot than its characters, and that is something that comes as a detriment to it. However, given enough time, it has the potential to definitely overtake the main characters in two different routes that might explore their characters more deeply. This will also come as a challenge for the actors to deliver better performances, as the production design and fantastic CGI cannot carry this show alone.

In fact, it’s going to be detrimental to the series if the actors cannot perform up to standard. Hopefully, as time progresses and the actors grow more comfortable with their roles, the series will become much more entangled in the Viking saga. For now, though, all we can do is watch the current season and hope for the best with what the future holds for this series. That is if Netflix doesn’t randomly decide to cancel it like they have been doing with shows for years. Vikings Valhalla is a great show, but it is lacking the same passion that the original Vikings series had.

About the Author: ZAYN BATES

Zayn Bates

Related Posts

TRENDING

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

TRENDING now

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE

ELVIS THE KING’S LIFE