Friday, March 28, 2014

Regarding Hans of the Southern Isles

Via Wikipedia

After months of encouragement from my friends, I finally saw Frozen. It was okay—not nearly as good as everyone said it was—but it had a few redeeming moments to make up for the trolls and Elsa at the very end.

Frozen’s premise revolves around two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who have had a falling out because Elsa has been forced to hide her magical ice powers. When Elsa runs away and leaves the kingdom caught in eternal winter, Anna leaves her kingdom in the hands of her fiancée to bring her sister back and save summer. Instead, Anna is accidentally injured and gets ice trapped in her heart. She has to run back home to receive an act of true love to reverse the curse.

All in all, not an awful story to begin with, but there were a couple songs and a couple tangents that caused the movie’s integrity to buckle.

My favorite character absolved. He was the one who I could always smile at, the one who acted flawlessly, the one who was practically perfect in every way. Yes, you know of whom I speak: Prince Hans of the Southern Isles.

(Spoilers Henceforth)

I couldn’t have asked for a better villain in this film.

Unless you were looking for it, his plan of action was difficult to detect: marry a princess, dispose of the baggage, and take over as king of Arendelle. All Hans revealed was that he had twelve older brothers and was searching for his own place—those were his loudest footsteps.

His actions when the kingdom was left without its princesses, though, were superb.

1) Response: Manipulated the Situation to his Advantage

Hans supported Anna every step of the way. No, Elsa could not be evil, and if Anna needed him to protect the kingdom while she was away, then he would do whatever was in his power to protect it. As Anna’s benevolent fiancée, he showed he was ready to help and was responsible enough to take charge, but as a villain, he proved his ability to think on his feet and adapt his plot to the situation at hand. That, I think, is one of a villain’s most valuable traits.

2) Initiative: Serve his People

Anna runs off, and we next see Hans in the village, passing out cloaks to the citizens of Arendelle and promising hot food and shelter within the palace gates. This is brilliant. Hans’s goal is power, yes, but at the same time he shows genuine care for the people under his protections. This creates loyalty and trust among the people—suddenly, Hans is a person who they know they can trust and rely on for years to come, because he can navigate any situation so smoothly and he cares for their welfare. (And he has to care for their welfare—if he didn’t, then he would have simply grabbed the power and run. He wants something more: respect and trust.)

3) Confront the Problem: Elsa

When Anna does not return, Hans assumes that Anna is dead—which is a perfectly logical thing to assume under the circumstances. In the interests of his plan and his people, he has to take out the problem at its root: the queen. But rather than antagonize her, or begin by seeking out her death, he only asks for her capture. After all, it’s always nice to ask the first time, and he can still become the hero. He saves Elsa’s life, and brings her back—still intending to kill her to end the winter.

4) Reanalysis: Anna

Anna returns, and Hans bounces back again. Sure, he reveals his whole plan, but it was such a sweet betrayal I’ll accept it. He never loved Anna, she was just so desperate he was able to build off of her innocence and Elsa’s isolation to springboard his own career. He leaves the one person who could get in his way to die.

(His one pitfall. He should have killed her himself, it would have worked so much better in his favor.)

Via Fanpop
5) Final Buildup: Treason

Hans spreads a story which will make him the only heir should Elsa be removed from the throne. He uses it to gain the trust of the other ambassadors and he uses it to break Elsa. Were Anna actually dead, his story would have worked. Elsa would have died, the winter ended (hopefully), and he would be left in charge of his own kingdom where he was loved, wanted, and useful.

Such a plot could have made him marvelous. It failed (Disney. What do you expect?) but it was nonetheless a beautiful setup.

More than that, he is also handsome, attractively voiced, a sympathetic character, skilled as a rider and swordsman, and an adept politician. I love him for that.

It kind of sucks being 13th in line for the throne, and it kind of sucks to be disregarded all the time. Whatever happens to him when he returns to the Southern Isles—I sincerely hope it was worthy of him.

A friend of mine called me a demonic child when she guessed that Hans is my favorite character. What do you think? Share in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thor: The Dark World

Click to visit IMDb

Thor: The Dark World was my parents’ birthday gift to me; I went to the theater with my best friend, and we had a jolly good time. The theater was totally decked out. Its red armchairs made me feel welcome and wanted, and the film astounded me. Plus the screen was huge, which made some scenes better than others. It was great. We freaked out the whole time.

I watched it again last night with my family.

Of course, watching films with one’s family is slightly less fun than with one’s best friend, especially when your family is prone to stating the obvious and/or making gasping noises when the action onscreen wasn’t really all that surprising.

I like The Dark World. The first time I was simply in shock and said little other than “ajdklfajsdklfajsdklf” when my family asked me how the movie was. My thoughts are a little more coherent now.

1) Humor

I love Marvel films, because no matter how dire the situation, there is always time for a laugh. It happened in Iron Man 3 when Tony’s suit smashed right before he was about to use it, and it happens in Thor 2 when Sif complains she had everything under control, to which Thor replies, “Is that why everything’s on fire?” There’s humor everywhere, and I guess it makes me glad, because even to the last second of the world’s existence, there is going to be smiling, and laughter, and making fun of your idiot friends who you love and hate all at once.

2) Darcy

My second favorite character, by far. She’s quirky and she’s got perfect timing, and of everyone she seems the most realistic, or at least the most normal. She’s the only one who asks, “What the hell was that?” when it seems like a lot more people should be asking that question, considering everything that’s going on with the end of the world and everything. Darcy’s comic relief, but she’s also the tether to the audience, and she’s a lot more perceptive than I used to give her credit for. In many ways, Darcy made the movie for me.

3) Loki

Oh please. Tom Hiddleston is a daily topic at the lunch table, but more than that he is the kind of character who I can deeply admire. He is both evil and good, and like the Joker and Captain Jack Sparrow, he truly keeps you guessing. That last scene killed me. He is not above love but neither is he above denying its claim on his heart. He plans, he twists, and he manipulates, and from that he has gained both infamy and my respect. He’s not technically the “villain” of the movie, but he’s the one I paid attention to.

4) Deeper Insights

In Thor, there was a lot of information about the nine realms, and the Convergence, while being a great opportunity to destroy the universe, also gave us a chance to look into the other worlds and see what life is like beyond Midgard. I felt like the movie continued to build upon the characters so that we knew more about them, and continued the story. It’s not like New Mexico or New York just happened and that was that. It’s a continuing story, and they treated it as such. (Which is also why I was glad that they didn’t call it “Thor 2.”)

5) Strong Sense of Reality

I’m not a Marvel junkie, nor do I read too far into the story, but at least for me, the movie made sense. There wasn’t a part of the movie where I thought something was extremely out of proportion, or seemed untrue to real life. And I think that’s because there’s a really strong world built around the Marvel series, so that the places, the people, and the problems can all be applied without really taxing my imagination. The films truly mesh together. As much as it could, The Dark World made sense. The characters interacted, they bonded, they fought. The settings flavored and deepened their worlds. There were smiles and frowns all the way around, and it made me glad I saw it.

Plus, attractive actors. In the words of my friend Kalyn, “The Hemsworth parents did very well.”

Well, what did you think of The Dark World? Share in the comments below!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mythology Monday: Ares

 Flickr Credit: cookbookman17

I’m going to talk about Ares today. I will admit, there is one reason in particular that I like having Ares around in mythology, and only one.

Yes, Ares is god of war, among other things.

But his symbol is that of a wild boar.

Wild boars are pigs.

Pigs are made of bacon.

Bacon is elation condensed.

So, by extended logic, Ares is the god of bacon, and who would not want to be friends with that god, I ask you?

(There is a picture of bacon because while I could not find a really good picture of Ares, I did for bacon. Ta-da.)


Name: Ares
Culture: Greek
Responsibilities: War
Symbols: Wild boar, dog, war gear

Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera, and, duh, the god of war. He’s bitter rivals with Athena, as her strategy and his violence embody two aspects which they cannot reconcile. Throughout the stories he is often remembered as Aphrodite’s lover, which also did not make him friends with his brother, Hephaestus.

He was also patron of the Spartans. Go figure.

What I Like About Him

I really like Carolyn Hennesy’s take on Ares. Sure, he’s always covered in blood and he is exceptionally cold, but he is firm in his ways and he has a sense of moral justice which allows him to fight against formidable enemies with some sense of morality about him. He protects what is his, and guards it jealously.

In that particular story, he stands up against Hera, the villainess of the series. (I have some words to say about that as well, but here is not the time.) As a whole Ares represents violence, but at the same time Ares spent the ages in a relationship with Aphrodite—the goddess of love.

I find it a fitting relationship. Devastation, violence, and war amplify a person. Some are bad, and war corrupts them further. Others are good, and hardship hones them to be someone even better. The strongest of emotions spring from danger—and I think Ares shows that our struggles can enhance or pervert our beings. We simply have to remain in control.

(Also the bacon thing mentioned above.)

(Plus Sparta, which means 300, and I adore that movie.)

What I Dislike About Him

The nature of war veritably sucks. I admit that. I frequently remember Ares as something of a jerk (Percy Jackson, anyone?), which doesn’t give him any extra brownie points, and I think the most disgusting aspect of Ares is the disregard for life. A regard for other people and their skills in battle has always been the fabric of honor, though what people do with that honor has varied. In a way, Ares also seems the god of waste, because the destruction of civilizations seems so petty when their construction is so much more beautiful.

I think Ares is an interesting character. If you look at war from every perspective then you have to see Ares from those perspectives as well. Maybe that’s not how the Greeks saw it exactly, but that’s always been my take on it. To war.

What do you think of Ares? Share below!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursentary: Tesla's Attic

As promised, two weeks ago, I am going to do a Thursentary today. I’ve mentioned before my adoration of Neal Shusterman’s books, and when he and Eric Elfman came by on a book tour I was super excited to go to the book signing. So, without further ado, I shall review Tesla’s Attic for my first go.

Click to see it on Amazon!
The Rundown

Nick Slate and his family move to Colorado Springs to start over after a devastating fire. Nick’s troubles begin with a pile of junk in his attic—a pile which he immediately sells to make space for his bedroom. Little does he know that these are some of the famous inventor Nikola Tesla’s famous inventions, which do extraordinary, fascinating things that rock the world. Literally. They take the interest of a group called the Accelerati, a group of “scientists” who are mainly interested in making Nick’s life as hard as possible. On top of that, Nick’s troubles accidentally set a space rock about the size of Rhode Island spinning towards Earth, pretty much ensuring the subsequent death and doom of everyone. With deaths impending left and right, will Nick be able to navigate his new friendships and enemy-ships in time to save the world?

I will not lie—my homeroom class probably thinks I am crazy now as they have witnessed me cracking up in the middle of Sustained Silent Reading for no apparent reason except for this book (I’m not sure if everyone in that class understands that books can be funny). Truly, the voice of Tesla’s Attic is enough to make me grin. It’s very unique, but the best comparisons I can think of are the narrators of A Series of Unfortunate Events or Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, where the author will just stop and talk to you about stuff for a moment and make sure you’re laughing before returning to the gruesomeness of it all. I’m pretty sure I spent all of SSR smiling while reading this, hanging on the edge of my desk as I poured over the story.

The character variety engaged me, as each person had completely separate problems and passions which all intertwined. I felt like I really got to know each and every main and supporting character, and even though there was a large cast I still felt included and onstage as the events progressed.

Plus Vince was such a fun character to read. He’s obsessed with morgues and death and the like, which is great reading.

The inventions were creative as well. I am slightly suspicious of some fantasticalness in their creation, but they all served an important purpose, often giving deeper insight into the characters and of course, proving a difficult mountain for Nick to climb.

I enjoyed reading Tesla’s Attic. I loved smiling, and more than that I loved laughing. It’s an easy, fun way to spend any Friday morning, and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Have you read Tesla’s Attic? Comment below!