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The Hollywood Insider Vikings Valhalla Review

Photo: ‘Vikings: Valhalla’

‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ is reminiscent of the former glory of the first few seasons of its predecessor ‘Vikings.’ Though it sheds its historical trappings for more dramatic and sensationalized story-telling, it is ultimately successful in drawing the viewer in. With superb acting and a plot-line that invests the viewer and pits them directly in support of the main characters, ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ is able to not only hook the audiences’ attention but draw them back to continue watching as each episode ends on a cliffhanger. While tying back to the original show ‘Vikings,’ it would be more accurate to describe ‘Vikings: Vahalla’ as a spin-off, rather than a direct sequel.

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The show notably mentions main characters that were featured in the original series but does not rely on any former storyline to attract previous fans. ‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ from the second it begins, makes a point to show the viewer that times have changed since those portrayed in the former show. It depicts a more turbulent, brutal, and unkind world that is full of division and hatred, especially between the race of Vikings. Though in this uncaring world that is exactly what invests the viewer within the show’s protagonists.  By pitting all odds against them, the viewer cannot help but hope that they succeed, and celebrate with them when they do.   

‘Vikings: Valhalla’- A Continuation/Reboot to ‘Vikings,’ Taking Place 100 Years After The Hit Show Ended

Taking place nearly 100 years after the last events portrayed in ‘Vikings,” this extended sequel is more akin to a spin-off. Though it would be incorrect to ignore the fact that the events visualized in the hit show ‘Vikings,’ didn’t lay the groundwork for the plot of ‘Vikings: Valhalla.’ ‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ begins by depicting the events of the St. Brice Day Massacre in England. This horrific slaughter of Viking people was committed by the King of England as he justified these barbaric actions through the unexplainable defense that these people were nothing more than “animals,” and that they did not deserve the land that was given to them by his former ancestors’ treaty. This massacre leads to the gathering of many Vikings all around Norway, under the rule of King Canute (Bradley Freegard), in order to return to England as a great army to avenge the brutal slaughter of their own people.

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These events coincide with the arrival in Kattegat of Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett), the famous Viking explorer, and his sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson). Leif and Freydis arrive in Kattegat on a personal mission of revenge but fate eventually leads to them meeting Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter), an ambitious Nordic prince, and their destinies are intertwined with him from that point onward. Leif is forced to join the great army and serve out a debt that he owes. Freydis is pushed in a different direction, separating the siblings while the show tracks the individual journeys that both of them must experience and overcome.

Though they are separated the pace and intensity of events are not reduced by any standard and both plot lines enthrall the viewers’ attention and interest. When they first arrive together in Kattegat, Leif and Freydis, along with their compatriots from Greenland, are hit by a devastating storm while sailing into Norway. The set production and the special effects featured are unlike anything pictured in the original series. This storm and the realism portrayed is symbolic and indicative of what the viewer can expect from this show, as it is masterfully employed. The feeling that one is actually there experiencing the action is a sensation that is fully expressed and developed. This aids in the show’s own verisimilitude and therefore enhances the investment of the viewer.  

‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ Offers A Fresh Historical Portrayal of The Divisions Between The Early Ancestry of Vikings

The major difference between the original series, ‘Vikings,’ and its current successor is entirely the state of and division between the Viking people, predominantly over religion. As first seen in the St. Brice Day Massacre, the dichotomy between Christianity and other religions, is one that is not only dividing England, but the people of Norway as well. Paganism, which was the original religion of the Viking people, is now pictured as a religious ideology that is starting to slip away. Christianity is beginning to take hold of the country of Norway and its people. Even within the great Viking army, clear divisions between the Christian and Pagan sides reflect their immense hostility and anger towards one another.

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In later episodes, the viewer can see that the hatred the Vikings feel towards one another is based largely on differences of religions. When Leif and Freydis arrive in Kattegat, the audience soon learns that Freydis was the victim of a horrible crime primarily because of her belief in Paganism. The show entrenches itself in this disunity and it serves as one of the main obstacles that the protagonists of the series must overcome. It also widely reflects the accuracy of the horrible violence within history perpetrated essentially due to the polarity of personal religious belief. One aspect that the show conveys well is that this violence is not due to the religion that a person chooses but rather the character of that individual. There will always be good and evil but certain people and characters choose to use religion to enforce their power and authority. Anyone is capable of committing evil deeds, as they bend religious belief as a justification for their egregious and unforgivable actions.

‘Vikings: Valhalla’- Does It Recreate The Same Excellence Observed in The Earlier Seasons of Its Former Predecessor ‘Vikings?’

It is a daunting undertaking for ‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ to be able to recreate the same success that was pictured in the early seasons of its predecessor, ‘Vikings.’ In some ways like its historical accuracy it falls short of the original series which prided itself on its historical validity. ‘Vikings,’ which originally aired on the History Channel was primarily a reenactment of historical events, but soon transformed into something more. Due to its phenomenal casting it became more than a reenactment and it truly aimed to capture the life and experiences of Ragnar Lothbrok. With ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ the viewer can see that same attempt to encapsulate the historical figures rather than the surrounding events. Most of ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ is dramatized and fictionalized, separating itself from ‘Vikings,’ entirely but the quality of action, special effects, choreography, acting, editing, and cinematography is all reminiscent of the original series.

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Even the audio and music is exceptional and perfectly drive the tone and mood that the showrunners are trying to produce. The main protagonists are likable and symbolize the image of a single light surrounded by darkness. The twists are unexpected and the villains are particularly heinous and wicked. The plot develops naturally and has the feeling of an effortless chain of events, mirroring the unpredictability of real life. In its essence, where ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ lacks, it compensates for these shortcomings by enforcing and relying on its strengths. Though it is more dramatic than historical, it still succeeds as an entertaining spectacle that is loosely based on real events and true-to-life figures.  

Sam Corlett, Leo Sutter, and Bradley Freegard are all featured in ‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ their latest endeavor. Frida Gustavsson will be pictured in the new movie, ‘Dampyr’(2022) playing the role of Tesla, a blood-hungry vampire.

Directors: Steve Saint Leger, Hannah Quinn, Niels Arden Oplev

Cast: Sam Corlett, Frida Gustavsson, Leo Suter, David Oakes, Pollyanna McIntosh, Laura Berlin, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Caroline Henderson, Bradley Freegard, Julian Seager, Asbjørn Krogh Nissen, Pääru Oja, Gavin O’Connor, James Ballanger, Álfrún Laufeyjardóttir, Lujza Richter, Jack Mullarkey, Louis Davison, Ethan Dillon, Mark Huberman, Bosco Hogan

Producers: Paul Buccieri, James Flynn, Sheila Hockin, Mark Murdoch, John Weber, Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, Michael Hirst, Morgan O’Sullivan, Jeb Stuart, Steve Stark

Writers: Jeb Stuart, Vanessa Alexander, Declan Croghan, Eoin McNameeCinematographer: Peter RobertsonEditor: Roslyn Kalloo

By Thomas Jacobs 

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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