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Vikings began its raid on the small screen last season, coming away with a bounty of ratings riches. Surprising everyone, the show became the number one new cable series of the year with an average of over 4 million viewers. Now Vikings is sailing back to the small screen with an ambitious, dark, and dangerous new season.
When we last left off our favorite raider Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was battling with brother Rollo (Clive Standen) while complicating his love life. On a raid he spent time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) while at home his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was dealt the crushing blow of seeing daughter Gita die. And former monk Athelstan (George Blagden) was finally starting to take to the Viking way of life.
Hollywood.com was lucky enough to chat with Vikings stars Travis Fimmel, George Blagden, and Alyssa Sutherland to get the scope on Season 2. Here’s what they let slip:
Athelstan has embraced the Viking way of life... or has he?As the season begins, Athelstan has seemingly thrown his lot in with the Vikings entirely. But has he really given up on his Christian faith?
“We leave Athelstan in Season 1 in a very conflicted place. The most interesting characters to play as an actor and watch as an audience are the ones that have deep conflicts running throughout. It would have been far too easy to make Athelstan a completely converted pagan and gung-ho into Viking life,” actor George Blagden said about his character.
“What you see throughout the first few episodes of Season 2 is an attempt and potentially a bit of a bluff on his part. Hopefully what we’ve been able to capture this season is the ongoing conflict that Athelstan has.”
Ragnar’s love life gets complicatedWith his relationship with the tough-as-nails Lagertha on the rocks, Ragnar spends some quality time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug. The repercussions of their momentary fling are far-reaching in Season 2, especially when Aslaug shows up in town pregnant.
“He wants it to be like the Brady Bunch, Ragnar does,” star Travis Fimmel said about Ragnar’s hope of combining both families. “People are putting 21st century values on it, but that stuff happened back then. He had to give it a shot anyway, you know?”
Bjorn grows upSometime in the first four episodes, we jump forward in time four years. This allows little Bjorn to grow up into The Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludgwig.
“We loved Nathan O’Toole, he’s such a great little actor and we were really sad to see him leave. But Alexander’s fantastic too, so he was very well replaced,” Fimmel said. “And he’s a big, big boy. He grows quick in four years.”
Lagertha changes in Season 2Her husband’s betrayal and her daughter's death lead to a much different Lagertha in Season 2.
“Lagertha seems to be chasing a bit more power now,” Fimmel said. “She wants to be Earl. She’s had a taste of power and she’s more about that now.”
Aslaug isn’t a homewreckerAslaug’s appearance on the scene broke up power couple Ragnar and Lagertha, a relationship fans were already deeply invested in after only nine episodes.
“I think it’s really cool that we get to bring this idea to modern audiences,” actress Alyssa Sutherland said. “It’s interesting to me how they struggle with the idea and dilute it down into Aslaug being a “homewrecker” or the other woman, and I question whether that concept would have even existed back then. I like the complication of that storyline.”
Sutherland points out that Aslaug’s goal wasn’t to break up Ragnar and Lagertha when she shows up in town pregnant.
“It seems like a bold move, but what other pregnant chick wouldn’t chase down the baby daddy?”
But Aslaug might have special powersThe world of Vikings has always been filled with mysticism and Princess Aslaug is no different. In Season 2, we find out she might have the power of second sight.
“What I love about the way [writer and creator] Michael Hirst does it is you’re not totally sure if these magical elements that he weaves in every now and then are really happening or if it’s just what they believed at the time,” Sutherland said. “I like that it’s left up to the viewer to decide. I certainly think that Aslaug, whether she was a seeress or not, she certainly believed it and the people around her believed it.”
The season starts with a dramatic battle sceneSeason 2 gets off to a action-packed start with a full-tilt battle between brothers Ragnar and Rollo. But they’re not the only ones doing battle.
“The director shouted ‘cut’ and there was silence and you could just hear this giddy laughter soaring over the forest. And it was me, standing amongst the shield wall, just off my face on some adrenaline high,” said Blagden of his first Viking battle. “Because there’s no pretending; when they smash into the shield wall they really smash into the shield wall.”
Series star Fimmel remembers the dramatic season-opening battle a little differently though.
“Those two days we shot it were some of the hottest days on record in Ireland. A lot of people passed out that day and there were a few injuries,” Fimmel said. “That’s what I remember most about that day.”
Things remain complicated between Ragnar and Rollo How do you fix a relationship like Ragnar and Rollo’s? The two brothers have found themselves almost consistently at odds since the series began, since Rollo’s jealousy often transforms into betrayal.
“It’s going to be pretty hard to ever trust Rollo again,” Fimmel says. “But he’s blood and that’s an important thing to Ragnar. There are certainly big obstacles to overcome with Rollo. The two brothers have a good arc this season, and it’s a lot different from last season.”
Vikings returns for Season 2 on February 27 at 10 PM on the History channel. Will you be watching?
After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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With no new releases from Lars Von Trier, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, David Cronenberg or Richard Kelly, 2010 projected to be a down, if not disastrous year for the WTF Awards – our annual celebration of the most bizarre, baffling, head-scratching and cringe-worthy moments in cinema. Thankfully, the filmmaking community, as it has always done in times of crisis, rallied to fill the void left by the absence of these WTF titans, providing us with an abundance of examples worthy of honor with the Frank Trophy. The Frankie (so named for the beloved character from Donnie Darko) may not be the most prestigious award in Hollywood, but it is undoubtedly the tallest.
This year's winners:
Most Surprising Hit: Alice in Wonderland
That Tim Burton’s CGI confection was a hit is not a surprise; that it grossed over a billion dollars worldwide – enough to rank sixth all-time -- is. Goth and emo kids, it seems, have access to significantly more disposable income than anyone previously thought. And they appear to be multiplying. Time to start building that shelter – and buying Hot Topic stock.
Most Inexplicable Flop: The Tourist
Plenty of films disappointed at the box office last year – 2010’s total tally was the lowest in 12 years – but none boasted the star power (Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp!) and sexy, exotic locales (Paris! Venice!) of The Tourist. Then again, the same combination also failed Eat Pray Love. Perhaps directing and screenwriting still matter after all.
Best Inadvertent Horror Flick: Tie –
The Nutcracker 3D – A children’s movie that triggers instantaneous terror among most children who see it? Sounds pretty darn hilarious to me. Which is why I don’t have kids.
Sex and the City 2 – Four solipsistic ghouls marauding across the Middle East, leaving dignity, good taste and America’s reputation throughout the Islamic world in their gruesome menopausal wake. Eli Roth can only dream of this kind of revulsion.
Movie Whose Mere Existence May Prompt You to Consider Ending Yours: The Bounty Hunter
On the plus side, whenever someone at a party questions the difficulty of a job that entails watching movies for a living, I can now effectively silence them with just three words.
Most Superbly Crafted Film I Never Want to See Again: Black Swan
So prodigious are director-sadist Darren Aronofsky’s abilities to unnerve that even the presence of a Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis girl-on-girl sex scene fails to inspire repeat viewings of his critically-acclaimed camp freakout. Aronofsky achieved the same feat with his nails-on-blackboard brilliant Requiem for a Dream, in which even a fully nude Jennifer Connelly couldn’t ease the existential dread.
Movie That Could Only Have Come Out of Scandinavia: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Leave it to those freaky Fins to re-imagine Santa Claus as a child-abducting, reindeer-slaughtering monster served by a corps of naked, shriveled elves. Jalmari Helander’s coffee-black comedy is perfect entertainment for tots not sufficiently traumatized by The Nutcracker 3D.
Most Egregious Bait-and-Switch: The American
As much as I enjoyed Anton Corbijn’s avowedly minimalist take on the quintessential “one last job” tale, I couldn’t help but feel for moviegoers who, lured by the film’s somewhat misleading marketing, went to see it expecting a polished popcorn thriller more worthy of an A-lister like George Clooney. Instead they got a spare, melancholy art flick, albeit one with a surfeit of nudity.
Most Disturbing “Love” Scene: Splice
Adrian Brody’s mad genetic scientist enjoys a drunken dalliance with Dren, the androgynous (and uncomfortably hot) offspring of his unholy experiments, in a scene glazed with just enough sensuality by director Vincenzo Natali to make our discomfort visceral. That the creature’s jambalaya genome includes bits of his own DNA as well as that of several other animals, qualifying the act as both incest and bestiality, is the icing on the cringe-cake.
Most Dubious Marketing Tagline: “From the Mind of M. Night Shyamalan” – Devil
Best WTF Cameo: Ed Corbin (The Bear Man), True Grit
In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn enjoy an awkward exchange with a hulking figure, clad in a bear suit and towing a corpse, who inquires in a creepy drawl as to whether either of them require medical attention. The scene wasn’t in Charles Portis’ source novel; it’s purely a creation of the Coen Brothers, whose yen for quirky peripheral characters is unmatched.
The George Lucas Award for Achievement in Legacy Dismantling: Kevin Smith
At first heralded as the voice of a generation and an inspiration to aspiring indie auteurs, the Clerks director has since degenerated into a just another Hollywood hack, reaching his creative nadir in 2010 with his buddy-cop flop, Cop Out. As a fan of his early work, I’m sad to see that he’s essentially become the Insane Clown Posse of filmmakers: amateurish, puerile, gimmicky, and a joke to everyone outside his army of inexplicably devoted followers.
Most Disconcerting Movie Trend: The Live-Action Comedy Famine
While animated comedies continued their profitable reign in 2010, their live-action counterparts were rejected en mass by moviegoers. Part of this can be explained by the dearth of quality titles; the rundown of rom-coms in particular -- Leap Year, The Bounty Hunter, Killers, When in Rome, The Switch, How Do You Know, et al -- reads like a to-do list at Guantanamo, and Little Fockers is now routinely invoked in pagan rituals to summon the fertility demon Naberus. But what’s more distressing is that the better comedies, like Easy A, Get Him to the Greek, MacGruber, and Hot Tub Time Machine, struggled to find audiences as well.
WTF Performer of the Year: James Franco
Let’s be honest: Any year in which Nicolas Cage makes a film is a year in which he wins this award. The man owns this category like Wilt Chamberlain owned the paint. As such, like Chamberlain, his dominance has inspired a rule change: In the interest of variety, the award will henceforth be known as the “Nicolas Cage Award for Achievement in WTF Performance.”
In 2010, no other actor dazzled, confused and, indeed, nauseated us as much as James Franco. His artistic output – from creative writing to cross-dressing photo shoots to Funny or Die shorts to big-budget cameos to his continued run on General Hospital -- was nothing short of baffling. And the strangest thing is, it all paid off. Among other accolades, he’s received his first Oscar nomination for his performance as arm-severing bicyclist Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.
Whichever agents negotiated Franco’s pact with Satan have earned their 5%.
WTF Movie of the Year: Splice
Human Centipede’s grotesqueries, while numerous and undoubtedly WTF-worthy, were of a strictly intestinal variety. Splice’s approach was much more holistic: It not only churned your stomach; it skull-f*cked your id. This is the kind of boldly batsh*t filmmaking for which the WTF Awards were invented. Congratulations to director Vincenzo Natali; we hope this helps ease the disappointment of losing out at the Teen Choice Awards.