A Friend For Princess Ada: Book Review

A Friend For Princess Ada: Book Review

I received an advance review copy of A Friend For Princess Ada for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Please note that there is a spoiler alert in place for this review (for all my reviews, to be honest). A Friend For Princess Ada is a children’s book written by Emilee Moore and illustrated by Kim Soderberg.

The story of A Friend For Princess Ada

A Friend For Princess Ada is a wonderful story about a little girl who seeks a friend with whom to play daily. The villagers bring her different choices but they just “won’t do”. Will she find the perfect companion. This is a delectable simple story to be enjoyed by every kid aged 3 to well 8, although it might really be more for the youngest bracket of the range. The illustration are nice although at times, they feel incomplete: for example the castle in the first pages of the story, looks more like a wall for a park than for a lived-in space. In spite of that, they are visibly agreeable and fit for their target audience. The layout, language and paragraphs are well spaced allowing the child to take on the journey with fun and pleasure. I also like the way kids can discover an animal at a time, through the presentation by the villagers, the moments that princess Ada shares with them and her final decision.

Some missed opportunites

I do wish there was more to the villagers presentation. A simple sentence could have explained why they chose a particular animal each time. At the beginning even, there could have been a sentence where they decide why an animal would be the type of friend they sought for the child rather than a person. It would have been really fun to see how they progressively add to the criteria to meet the princess’s need for an ideal friend: from chosing that it should be an animal not a person to the right one. I also think they need not be disappointed as much as excited at the detective work they were doing to find that right pal. I asked myself from the outset: why a seal first? Is it where they leave, something the princess said or just for the sake of the plot? A quick premise would have made the flow more seamless and clued the reader in.

Some attitude

Finally, I wish Princess Ada stated her reasons before she stated “this [insert animal] will never do”. This is important in the way children speak and perceive behaviour. It shows respect to the people who are working for her. Rather than starting with a negative comment which might very well explain why the villagers are disappointed, she should have started with complementing them in effect as she kind of those later rather than sooner. Especially as a princess, she should have started by acknowledging their work, the advantages of her choices and then only state why it was still wanting. For example, she could say: “Thank you for finding a friend with just the right size, etc.”. By not fdoing this, she shows an attitude that requires its own story to correct.

Conclusion

All the elements are there. I would have just tweaked some of the order and some of the sentences. I do believe that the child could have been any child without some of the extra qualities of a princess such as the one mentioned above. Making her a princess might explain the decree but should show the decorum alongside rather than almost making her sound just whimsical. I am not convinced about the choice of a lion following the monkey or as a choice at all, whether for a child or around the other animals. I wish the page that showed the animals considered had a sentence about each of them including the lion and why he was not chosen in the first place, e.g., “The lion had a soft fur but was too dangerous”, “The snake…” and so on.

In spite of all that, A Friend For Princess Ada is all in all a delightable little tale to be enjoyed by small children. It will teach them about different animals. But it had the potential for much more in such a few sentences and lovely pictures.
7 out of 10 well done

Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues: Book Review

Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues: Book Review

The idea behind Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues

Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues is a book in the Team Supercrew Series. It is described as “a children’s book about feelings and emotions, staying calm, and boisterous bedtimes!”. The subject is commandable and even more so the idea that supports it. I absolutely love the idea of using superheroes to help children find their best inside of them. Maybe it is because it is my way of thinking. There absolutely IS a superhero inside each of us. And the sooner you can inculcate that mindset into a child, the better. And what great way this amazingly produced book series.does it.

The language in Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues

As a grown up, I read the whole book without a problem. I think a child would only have minor issues with the words if any at all. The structure is also sound. The paragraphs are short and to the point so it is easy to follow. I love that Miko calls on Chloe even though I am not convinced by the way she does it or the way she reacts to her favourite superhero showing up. 

My problem is the conversation. The exchange reads unnatural at times. The reasons that Chloe gives for persuading Miko to go to bed are “what ifs”. In the way that Chloe is feeling and the mood she is in (“There’s no way I’m going to bed right now”), I would easily argue that “what ifs” can easily be challenged. It feels like she accepts the argument (or lack thereof) because Chloe is a superhero she admires not because she is convincing, and to me, that is a problem. Chloe, even as a superhero, is still a stranger. Admiration should never be a substitute for logic. That encourages a celebrity blind-following mentality. A superhero is human after all. I don’t feel that her superpower of calmness, which should have been the magic here, is showcased anywhere near enough. Mentioning a “let me breathe in and out” in passing felt more like a checked box. It should have been used to help calm Miko and help her focus so she can then express the actual problem.

The flow and focus in Chloe the Calm in The Bedtime Blues

Children do not want to sleep for many reasons, some of which are:

  • they don’t want to miss out on the fun happening: although children generally are, nothing in these premises show a reason for that. This would be more the case if she knew her friends were having a sleepover and she was not invited, or maybe her favourite aunt came to visit and she could not stay up with her
  • they have consumed too much sugar or equivalent: nothing suggests this here
  • they are anxious, afraid or excited about something that is coming up: The mother mentioning “the ballet recital” would suggest so

This is what the book should have concentrated on and Chloe should have helped calmed: the excitement of the upcoming recital. In spite of the illustration and the words suggesting so, the story flow shows no reason for anger and therefore no real substance for convincing Miko not to be

Conclusion

I need to read the other books in the story. I believe that is one of the best ideas in book stories for children that I have come across. With such an inspirational essence, its failings (which are common to all human creations as is this review) cannot but be pardoned, at least to a certain extent. This particular book can, in no way, be representative, beyond its extremely good will, idea and essence, of the story flow of all the books in the series. While being a great idea, great writing and great premises and illustrations, the story on this particularly book tries to cram too many calming tips as possible without linking them with their correct premises. The dialogue phrasing is at times clunky to unnatural at times, even more concerned with exposition at the beginning. Those are the main two faults that I have found reading the book. It has affected the after taste but no so much as to dismiss a must-read children’s book.

Marvel’s Eternals Movie Review

Marvel’s Eternals Movie Review

About Marvel’s Eternals Movie

Marvel’s Eternals is a 2021 movie about immortal alien superheroes who protect the Earth from their counterparts, the Deviants. These Eternals are only one set of such superheroes protecting each a part of the universe. The excitement for watching this movie was threefold:

  • Angelina Jolie was going to kick ass.
  • Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao was directing the movie and co-wrote the screenplay alongside Kaz Firpo, Ryan Firpo and Patrick Burleigh
  • It’s Marvel Comics, duh!

The film stars Eternals Ajak (Salma Hayek), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and Sprite (Lia McHugh). The film also apparently (I’m guessing some of them in the deleted scenes because I did not see all of these actors for sure, not even in the extended scene, looking at you Mahershala Ali) stars: Harry Styles as Starfox, Kit Harington (Black Knight), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Bill Skarsgård, Mahershala Ali (Blade), Patton Oswalt, Zain Al Rafeea (Mesopotamian Young Man), Lucia Efstathiou (Student), Hannah Dodd (Sandra), Harish Patel (Karun), Gil Birmingham, Haaz Sleiman (Phastos’ husband), Nikkita Chadha (Bollywood Star), Ahn Yong-wook, Brenda Lorena Garcia, Derek Horsham, David Kaye, Tomokazu Sugita, Kōki Uchiyama, Ayumi Tsunematsu, Keiko Toda, Tetsu Inada, Rika Fukami, Shinji Kawada, Alberto Falcon Rodriguez (Mesopotamian Father), Grahame Fox, Chloe Stannage, Jeff Mirza, Jashaun St. John. Obviously, since we are doing a Marvel’s Eternals Movie Review to the detail, a ****major spoiler alert**** is in place!

Marvel’s Eternals Movie – The introduction

From the outset, I was already shouting at the screen. “Remove the introductory reading. It is boring and forgettable, and therefore a waste of time and effort.” “Have the father run, grab his son and start escaping immediately.” After all, he does not watch Hollywood movies. He has not yet been contaminated with the reflex of the expendable extra to stand and stare before scripted danger. He lives at the prime of “flight” for goodness sake. And it happens again, later on. A child just stands in the middle of the chaos of murder as if anyone would. They would run and hide, especially when someone gets hurt (murdered by the way) next to you! This film is a little stupid at times or just confuses common sense with industrial advancement?

The Eternals themselves are introduced in that spirit. They knew “it is time”, but they did not hurry to the danger, too busy as they were, flirting and introducing themselves to each other. Seriously, is common and hero sense really fading away? While you’re at it, remove the stupid name introductions. They’re already forgotten and time’s a’wasting! Why must we suffer through the reason why every Marvel superhero movie after Thanos did not do a thing against Thanos? Why couldn’t Eternals only activate against deviants not other beings? Is it so we have multiple villains and Ikaris fulfill his name’s fate? 

Marvel's Eternals Movie

I smile as I see each of them showcasing their powers. So, we have Superman, The Flash, a Bollywood cowboy, super Jolie, Iron fist i.e. the puncher, Salma Hayek, I mean the healer and the others. Best entrance: Angelina Jolie. Love that she does not attack from a distance and faces the danger right upfront. She used her super hero credits and paid a little of the debt. Best god-like pose: shared between Superman looking at the world from up top after defeating a deviant as if to let them gaze at his splendour and Sirsi’s remake of the Da Vinci’s god and man scene: this time, man will not be touched and the knife that is the intermediary must be morphed, their first interjection into human affairs by the way, that they so insist they are not supposed to. Or maybe it is just all of them posing for the hero shot. Seriously. Suspension of disbelief, suspension of disbelief, suspension of disbelief…. Aarrgghh…

Present day

So, do they sleep until awoken like in the beginning or do they roam around the world and speak like puny humans?? (I mean Sirsi says “s***”!) and of course is late because she is in an American blockbuster. Suspension of disbelief is hard work when there is so much copy/paste. And work requires paiement, this is another debt.. You might as well have played “What if god was one of us”. They are after all called Eternals.

I cannot begin to see the whole need for lateness, underground, exchange with game of thrones apart from giving the kids a voice. They could have as easily started with an earthquake in the middle of her lesson. Seriously. And of course, no one so her using her powers because it was just for us to know she has them. I am bored.
So they can’t sense deviants now? Omg there are so many contradictions.
please keep dane safe but take the deviant into real populations where there are 100s of someone else’s Dane! Aaarrrggghhh
and do people need to be told to run wwhen they see this? Seriously. That movie is infuriating. I would give it 0 so much I am pissed off at its waste of great actors and people’s time.

WE are so lucky that the deviants wait to attack. Becuase you wouldn’t believe the way they quietly decide to get everyone and the way they slowly eventually do that there is any urgency to the matter or that they basically don’t know when the deviants would attack next. It is basically as if they knew when in advance, as if they had read the script, as if they were mere actors in a screenplay.

Now for a stream of really annoying moments

Marvel's Eternals Movie DeviantI am getting whiplash from all the back and forth in time. Not a single one is necessary or useful and linearity would have worked much better.

I am getting tired of seeing heroes turning their back to danger without ensuring that it has disappeared just because the enemy fell and stopped fighting. This movie is dumb. Recognise more of the dialogue? “There is something special about this planet.” By the way, why does Salma’s hair move as if a smooth brise was blowing on it? Are they not in space?

I have had enough of hearing references to other Marvel properties, from Thanos to the snap, to the avengers. And “it has to” is no response to “Will it work” already!

I did not enjoy the suggestion that humans could not innovate but for “gods” or wars. That is a terrible and false opinion to share with children. There’s clearly an inner battle in these superheroes even after centuries of existing are still asking themselves mundane human questions shows a loss. I don’t mind theories but the whole point of superheroes was to use their superpowers to protect the world from harm coming from a superpower they can’t handle. Has it become to hinder our natural development? Is Marvel’s theory that we are not able even in our mental capacities but for their help? Wrong message man. Waste of time and wrong effect.

Seriously, if I hear “you’re late” again, I will… aaarrgghh. It was barely tolerable when they attempted to make it Sersi’s thing. Now Makkari. Late to what?!

This movie is ssooo long. There are so many fillers! It is hard to understand why they were deemed necessary. Are they there to paradoxically showcase how many times the Eternals interfere in human affairs? Are they there to show a growing attachment to a planet that they were asked not to get attached to by the same being who kept them there? Did the love affair between Ikarus and Sersi necessitate so much complex developments or even a Games of Thrones’ Kit Harrington? Of course, the language mistakes are the usual suspects. I don’t know that I can be any more infuriated at this waste. I love that we keep inventing aliens and keep giving them human characteristics all the way to sex (in the sand for goodness sake! Who in their right mind… -sigh-). I wish the lack of action was compensated by a great message but it all feels so empty. Is all these useless drama about character development? I am always up for a Bollywood moment or even 3 hours of it but this does not fit in. It is almost like trying to balance a story (or lack of it) with individual demands powered by star power. Was there ever a question between saving a production and saving the world? The BTS ad, the app ad… sigh.

Some missed opportunities and a final verdict

Thena - Marvel's Eternals MovieThis film missed the opportunity to highlight the importance of using the right instrument for the right purpose. A hammer (pun intended) is far too powerful to kill an ant. Druig should never have been let to influence men because a protector quickly becomes a bully with that power. This is also the reason why the powers are distributed among many rather than concentrated in one being.

There was also an opportunity to insert some real historical facts just to leave a little bonus in the beautiful sceneries. Also, it takes as long to show as to tell a story. The number of times things were said that should have been told is flagrant. Finally, it did really bother me that it was the sensitive ones that died from Salma Hayek’s character to Gilgamesh. Is it supposed to be the case that once you know they are fancy robots, you can tolerate their deaths?

Most of the first part did nothing for my suspension of disbelief. Afterwards, I was just too annoyed, -5/10. I did feel that the movie managed to balance its ridiculous amount of heroes. There was great acting too and each were finely cast. A caveat of too many protagonists seems to be a necessary civil war. Thena’s actually turns out to be interesting while Ikaris was more predictable. That is an easy 8/10.

The film has some nice fights but not original or inspiring: 5 out of 10. I did like the special effects including the deviants and the sets. There was a lot of beauty around and in the power effects too. This is an easy 8.5. There is substance to this but the story itself, the way this substance turns into plot, is too full of contradictions, unecessary complexity, clichés, unworthy of Marvel and wasting the actors. Sorry, it is a 4 out of 10. The moment of substance for me is the mini-rebellion after Thena’s first attack and the few seconds of reveal of Phasto’s family. The death of Gilgamesh was almost expected,, sad but too by the numbers to truly be poignant. Unfortunately, the substance does stop there. 5 out 10. The beautiful sceneries and people and even villains make the photography beautiful and a well-deserved 8+.

Something I don’t generally point out unless it is negatively shocking or, so rarely, wonderfully positive in some way is diversity. The film get 9+ out of 10 for that for two main reasons. I absolutely loved the addition of sign language. It would have been easy to argue that a supreme being building a high-quality robot would not deprive it from any sense that will jeopardise its mission. But I completely love and embrace the wonderful way this was handled. The movie refuses to view things as would a majority of humans, blinded (pun intended) by their own so-called ability. It comes out of a bordered mindset to see things as they would through their I am not certain it was used at its best. I cried when I heard xxx speaking arabic and cried some more when I realised it was Phastos’ husband. In spite of that ultra redeemind feature, the viewer is left feeling wanting, and painfully and overwhelmingly underwhelmed (4 outof 10). It’s not a bad film, just sort of ok. Hence, the overall score is a barely scraped 5 out of 10.

Marvel’s Eternals Movie screens on Disney Plus

Thor, Guardian Of the Galaxy

Thor, Guardian Of the Galaxy

The losses that trigger the transformations

The article Thor Guardian of The Galaxy is Act 2 of the Thor Love and Thunder Movie Review. It looks into Thor as he comes to terms with what has happened so far in his life and where he is going next. We discover that the superhero seems to be in a constant inbetween (and as we are all naturally). He is waiting for something to get him to his next battle I really don’t believe that it is “We need you to win this battle” which barely appeals to his ego and not the sense of redemption he seems to be seeking in each fight.

One of the interesting thing about this part is that Thor is that the Guardians of the Galaxy mimic Thor’s friends, his fighting gang as it were, filling a hole that had not been acknowledged previously (quite the opposite). It also follows their defeat of Thanos in which he was part of the numbers but not necessarily needed, especially as Captain America could wield Mjölnir. The fact that later on, Mighty Thor takes over and Mjölnir is no longer is does play on this as well but could have been so much more highlighted beyond shallow jealous quirks. This minimises the issue he has been dealing with as far as his partners are concerned.

Losses are part of life whether you are an ordinary citizen or a superhero. But it is harder when you carry the burden of the amount of responsibility of a superhero and Guardian of the galaxy. This is because you know that when you fail, it does not just affect you but a nation, a planet and potentially a galaxy.

Thor’s trauma

It is obvious that Taika Waititi has overestimated our love of comic relief Korg. The character is right left centre, basically far more than he needs to be. He starts immediately after the opening credits, narrating most of what we know already, and speaking over what could easily just be shown. This would have ideally be shown through the mind reader’s eye. Simply imagine the hand of Mantis touching Thor in his tormented sleep as if he were dreaming of the act before, the god butchering. And then we see through her eyes seeing through his: his planet exploding, his people shattered, him putting on weight and moments where he is just lost. Pom Klementieff plays the detached empath so well, her “cool” coldness (no repetition there, think about it) will calm down the superhero’s turmoil. The Guardians of the Galaxy will understand his feeling of helplessness and fragility and the next more useful montage would be of them alternatively showing them he is needed in battle (I can see Taika making this proper comedy) and Mantis helping him sleep and him getting enough rest and confidence to build his muscle again and lose his excess fat..

An extra (deleted) fun scene could be Thor waking up to find Starlord and Mantis at his side. He understands what has happened, maybe tells off Mantis for not respecting his boundaries. And then Starlord would make his speech. He would add something about how far Thor has come and how much he had helped them with a few-second scenes of battle where Thor was indeed a Guardian of the galaxy. He has made a difference without much effort. How much more difference can he make with a little more focussed effort? Anyway, the distress signal from Sif would prompt Thor’s departure. He feels strong enough to go back on his own, without the ridiculously long banter between him and Starlord.

We do not fault the writer/director for wanting to introduce Thor’s trauma via the “relatable” and light character Korg portrays but the narration cheapens a crucial and painful moment just for the sake of not making any moment too deep. Another case of show, don’t tell is the fact that Thor is needed as a superhero in the galaxy. It is the secret to getting him back on track and back in shape. Unfortunately, the movie does performs a double fail here. It makes it a narration over a very brief montage. And it makes it a throwaway, quick joke.

Thor’s transformations

Thor’s transformations, physical and mental, are important. Every superhero who did not manage to save one innocent will tell you, from Schindler to doctors to Thor. It touches all of us, with or without a cape (whether or not through the wisdom of Edna). There is a way out of that trauma and it is not just having a laugh about it. Distraction is the opposite of dealing. It is merely a break to catch a breath so you can better be ready to deal with your situation. Unfortunately, like it is increasingly in real life, distraction has become the de facto way out. The missed opportunity affected the film negatively in my view.

Thor goes from sitting all day to working out to battling evil. He goes from eating his pain away to using his actual strengths to deal with his pain. He then goes from that anger fueling his fists to love, to understanding. He goes from fear of disappointing, of failing, of losing, to acceptance. There is so much in this transformation that has beauty in it. The image of his mother in the previous installment just shows the power of love over all negative feelings. Joking, yes, is part of him and we want to see it. But to see him choose to finally face things rather than joke them aside is powerful and it did come in the end, but so shortly and so late, not the amount of time that it deserves.

From a ridiculously (jokingly?) young age (a baby in his mother’s sling, although he looked more like a protection vest! Take an African sling, woman, and you will not have to endanger your child), he was exposed to battle. It is in his blood. It is in his genetics, it is in his way of life and in his raison de vivre. It shows that throughout its transformation, superheroing has been a constant: the one exception odes not void that rule, it violates it. In effect, not battling just worsens the feeling. And I wanted to see all that, that Thor is and was always a Guardian of the Galaxy. 

Beneath Stretching Pines by Kurtis A. Ebeling: Book Review

Beneath Stretching Pines by Kurtis A. Ebeling: Book Review

About Beneath Stretching Pines

Beneath Stretching Pines is a short collection of only 30 poems. As such, the book might look at first like a quick read, especially as each poem is short. However, I found myself going back and forth a little at times or re-reading a poem I had just read. It is not the purposeful shifts in style but how the voice of the author itself shifts from “noise to meaning” at each re-read. The author, Kurtis A. Ebeling, utilises various forms, ranging from imagistic and deconstructed works to more traditional and rhythmically structured forms. I found out for the first time for example about the “delicate” (for lack of a better word) form that is the pantoum. In the book’s description, I read that “this collection of poems contends with the potentially interwoven and co-emergent nature of experience, language and selfhood.” But I find more in my own reading, and beyond my own interpretation, even at times, drips of my own voice.

Beneath Stretching Pines: From stylish “noise to meaning”

At first, the two first poems, Sonnet in Search of Sleep and Cluttered Sky did not touch me. It is not that I am insensitive to their beauty. But I could not find the face of the author or his direction, elements that I seek, even at first read. These imagistic lines read as beautiful words in their look at nature but I couldn’t sense a meaning or a point. I liked the style but I was not gripped at the heartstrings… at least not until poem number 3, For Lilith. For Lilith gave me hope that the two first poems were a slow if not a false start. I was so grateful for For Lilith that right then it became my favourite poem already… that is until I read A Dialogue Appraising Selfhood. Starting as silhouette or voice, the artist gradually unveils himself, betraying how I read him in the beginning, as “only a noise until heard as meaning”, or in this case, until read as meaning. Oh what a beautiful revelation mimicking the way that we perceive the world, read a book, discover everything and everyone. He gives of his true self, shows his face behind style and nature, as much within the lines as whilst we interpret its symbols. The poet’s secret is revealed. He oscilliates between light verses of nature unclothed and introspective verses of his naked psyche. The parallel is astonishing.

Beneath Stretching Pines – Between naturehood and selfhood

I then read Conversation and suddenly I had to go back to the two first poems. Suddenly, the voice of the author was clearer to truly understand them, and finally I did. I was among the elements of nature described, feeling all at once the passage of time and its constance in the passage of matter. The author’s pen floats between introspection and outside observation, almost as they mirror each other in an eternal dance of changing partners and changing selves. Man is a main character but so are trees, from their rooted roots to their threshed leaves willow to pines.

His use of hyphens, throws me at times, because of how long the phrases sometimes are between parenthesis. But when you find the thread again, you’re can enjoy the meaning. and there I am free to open up again. and thankfully saw for i learned about pantoums with the great example that is Death Leaves You: A Pantoum. I cannot go through each one although they did not all have the same effect on me, obviously. I remember Postlude now and its dancing rhythm that invites you to all that is happening around your skin and senses.

Finally…

The author expertly draws parallels between selfhood and naturehood to the point that I start to see one in the other, almost as if introspection leads to the outside (a semantic form that I immensely enjoy), the environment that comprehends in more sense than one and thereby nurture creaturehood. This makes the rest of the read an enjoyable one.

I am sure that if I investigate the author himself, a lot more will become apparent between these poetic lines. But his pen is seasoned enough to give us the right amount of soul nutrients and as Maya Angelou paraphrased would say, the right aftertaste. That is all that matters in any read, that is all that stays.

I am not a fan of the cover. I’d like to think that it is some designer X-ray style view of nature (man and mother) to reflect the book content. Whether it is the case or not, I kepe thinking a different take might have done this better.

Still, I am touched by the author’s approach to death, to life, to breath. I am filled with the constant exchange between nature and selfhood as she gazes upon us, as we mirror her. And vice-versa. An enjoyable read. And re-read that is as all we read should be, deep and unveiling more of its ink and its pen after each visit.

Get Beneath Stretching Pines on Amazon now.

Gorr – Thor Love and Thunder

Gorr – Thor Love and Thunder

This article is part of Thor Love and Thunder: Movie Review. This is Act 1 as it where where we look into the villain Gorr the God Butcher. We watch the villain, Gorr the God Butcher, in the early stages of his grief cycle as he goes through a transformation of the mind and the body which could have benefitted from being more obvious.

This article is part of Thor Love and Thunder: Movie Review. This is Act 1 as it where where we look into the villain Gorr the God Butcher. We watch the villain, Gorr the God Butcher, in the early stages of his grief cycle as he goes through a transformation of the mind and the body which could have benefitted from being more obvious.

Meeting Gorr the devastated

Gorr Gorrs’ introductory scenes state their purpose from the outset. The audience sees where his anger comes from and what fuels his new life mission, the premises of the movie. There are a few issues with these 6 minutes and 40 seconds scene. First, it is far too long. We didn’t need to see the child die. We did not need to see the man pray. We did not need to see even a second of his walk to an oasis whose apparition we wonder more about than we can suspend our disbelief about its presence. The words spoken cheapen the moment. GorrThe brievity and quietness would have added to the ominous atmosphere. A desert shown in its immensity, its emptiness and in the middle of this nothing, a child, dead, held in the arms of her father. The heaviness of the moment would have distracted us from the initial makeup which although wonderful could not quite persuade me it was the result of the climate, hunger and desolation. What breaks the silence is the final cry of a man who awaits his own death, calling his god for a last time. We can definitely do with a villain that monologues not, at any time.

Discovering Gorr the enraged

GorrSeeing the god appear in his bounty, height and colours in the middle of the monochromatic and desolate scenery, with the mortals looking ever tinier would have been more effective. It would explain why he appeared not far from his disciple. This moment would explain why he appears now when he normally cannot be bothered. “Will you mortals give me peace already!”, he will roar.  He may have an entourage if the director insists. It was an interesting touch, the cost of which might not justify the means but a nice touch all the same. They gravitate around him as he appears and echo his every saying. “I sense your insult, whatever is the opposite of worship growing in you (and I am here to annihilate it before it takes seed)”. But the child is dead and the father will not apologise for he knows that this is not a god who raises the dead. This is the god who came too late for his daughter. “Now? Now, you come?”, he rages. “Now? Now that the lives that worshipped you died one after the other with your name on their tongue, begging for you to come to their rescue, to save their lands, their loved ones, their young ones, their… (painfully) daughter? And YOU dare to be angry that I disturb you, the last of my kind, forsaken through death by my own, through starvation by my land, and through indifference by my own god?” These are the words of a man whose faith was lost with the last breath of his daughter. And to this man who gods have forsaken, only one voice will respond, that will be shown alternatively as he grows enraged, shaking from the grounds were it hid, waiting for a will that strong, that determined, that lethal. And as the sword makes its way to its new owner, with the latter morphing empowered by the sword through his rage, the voice of its fate resounds as he throws his amulette to the floor with one hand, grabs the sword and slays the god with the other. As per the movie, the final image is that of the amulet on the foreground but with the stained sword on the background rather than the god’s head, a sword being taken to its next job. Although the god gold dusting is a beautiful imagery too but this is phase whatever number now.

Gorr’s gradual physical transformation and power acquisition

The two paragraphs above start and showcase the beginning of Gorr’s transformation. That far, the transformation is mainly powered by vindicative rage. This happens as he decays into the hands of revenge and destruction, giving himself completely to it. He knows he would have, guess what, avenged his daughter, before joining her in the afterlife. To think that villainy suffices to undermine a valid point is to be a little naive. Taika Waititi is, no doubt, a bit of genius who draws its talent from a mix of childlike madness, practice and comedy. This has turned every Thor he has directed into fun and enjoyment for the whole family. However, this part required the grown-up in him. Every time where, in the movie, he tackles a deeper subject, he almost immediately cheapens it by throwing comedy at it, missing the tragic timing, clearly in an effort to lighten the mood. But this pain, Gorr’s pain, required less light handling.

There are parallel transformations of Gorr and inner contradictions from the outset to the last minute of his life. He goes from devotee to God Butcher. He starts drained and powerless and becomes full and powerful. There is an ironic and deeper third dimension that shows us that the powerful is in fact powerless, the God butcher is just a devotee to another god, the invisible god of the necrosword, the owner of the voices he hears without, or is it within? To see him being in all those places would have painted a more wholesome picture of devotism, than that of a underdeveloped and disgruntled atheist. The generalisation and bump from “my god betrayed me” to “all gods must die” is silly. The corruption process does not take place all at once because he is either reluctant as he holds on to the image of his child and his own purity when he meets her; or his body can’t take it all once. We needed to know that the graduality was a physical or a spiritual war to understand why his arsenal and appearance changed each time rather than a convenient display of power or gore for cinematographic effect/show.

Gorr the God Butcher

The villain’s name already make this movie a PG-13 or worse. Yes, there are scenes that you cannot show in a PG-13 content. But there are ways to still demonstrate them without omitting them altogether. The omissions are actually more detrimental to the young mind. They are led to think that all gods need killing because one god disappointed which feels more like the scriptor’s perspective forcing itself against the natural narrative. The growing mind is left to think that revenge empowers because although the corruption is mentioned, the power is a lot more ascertained than its inner destruction. After all, Gorr grows in power and at no point do we see his inner suffering. The outside appearance may be a consequence of taking on the new mantle but nothing shows that it is a negative consequence of anger or revenge, except if you have any prejudice of associating the darker colours with it and for others to bridge the gap between villainy and self-destruction. What makes it PG-13 or more are not the “intense sequences of sci-fi violence” but the far deeper subjects that are being half-tackled half-baked and then moved on from with a laugh or a cinematic cut.

The name Gorr the God Butcher is heard more than is his butchery. A scene that shows the many gods slaughtered is displayed via Hollywood’s infamous transparent holograms. The presentation is blurred and confusing and necessitates the narration that Thor provides: “Look at all those gods, murdered”. On top of it, it last less than a second (I had to pause the screen) so that we end up in the usual Hollywood loophole: that Thor responds not to the horror he sees but to the fact that one of his friends are in peril. This is definitely not a message for the kids. A hero, as Aquaman’s mother paraphrased once said (I know the DCU is not the MCU but moral is universal, I mean multiversal?), “A king [a god] fights only for his nation [people/followers/friends]. A hero fights for everyone“.

All that we truly needed was a battle, starring Lady Sif and Falligar, God of the Falligarians, versus Gorr. This would have been an epic opportunity to introduce “one of the nicest gods you’ll ever meet” for longer than the easily forgettable sentence that introduced him as such, giving us a bit more perspective that not all gods are the same (remember that Thor, whilst a God, is considered more of a superhero). It would have been an opportunity also to see a God in battle with powers that are beyond a mere physical fight. It would have been a welcome sight to see Lady Sif in her element before she lost her arm. Less tell, more show.

Falligar

Demonstrating the difference between his killing Rapu and fighting Falligar would have shown power. Then two seconds panning over the other defeated gods would have come as no surprise as an aftermath, increasing the excitement for the final battle. It would also justify why they needed two Thor and one Valkyrie to do the job.

I can’t help feeling that Christian Bale, the audience and Waititi himself deserved more of a villain depth.