“The King’s Choice”: More engaging than thrilling

ROSEMARY SCHWEITZER
schwe035@rangers.uwp.edu

Two of the most jam-packed days in Norwegian history

War movies. I am reasonably sure we can agree that films centering around the topic of war are rarely cheerful. They might have moments of comedic relief or a heartwarming or uplifting ending, but on the whole, an average war film will at least leave watchers with a single tear threatening to fall. With this in mind, I have not gone to see that many war movies over the years.

When I sit in a seat, potentially with some popcorn or candy, I want to laugh and be merry, not weeping openly over men and women who died because someone somewhere got on their high horse and tried to take over the world. However, if I had to watch a war movie for say, I do not know, a film review for “The Ranger News”, I would not run away screaming.

Maybe it is not so bad

As it happens, “The King’s Choice” was easier to get through than I had hoped. Set in 1940s Norway, the film takes place over the course of roughly three days, and focuses on the decision of King Haakon VII, during that time. At that point in the war, Norway was determined to remain neutral, but Germany was equally determined to overrun and occupy the country.

King Haakon and the rest of the royal family flee to a safe farm in the countryside, and thus begins the game of cat and mouse between the Norwegian government and the Germans.

No bark, massive bite

With a cast of sympathetic and engaging characters, “The King’s Choice” does a good job of capturing the attention of its audience and making them invest in the final outcome. Haakon himself is a tall, weary-looking sixty-eight-year-old who looks as though a strong wind could carry him away.

The gentle nature with which he speaks to his grandchildren and the young soldiers he comes across throughout the film is refreshing and more human than monarchs are normally portrayed as. This made it a genuine surprise when Haakon’s backbone shone through as he defended his country and all the people within it that depended on him.

The King’s Choice Awards

“The King’s Choice” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, but the only awards it formally won were from the Norwegian International Film Festival. The film was awarded with best Norwegian film, best music and sound design, best screenplay, visual effects, editing and best supporting actor.

If you missed UW Parkside’s run of “The King’s Choice,” the film is available for rent or purchase on YouTube and Amazon.

Newest “Tomb Raider” suffers pitfalls

Movie is mixed bag, yet Laura Croft is finally respected

TRAVIS NORTHERN
north004@rangers.uwp.edu

It is no secret that video game movies are often notoriously bad. Faithfully adapting interactive entertainment into a passive viewing experience is quite the challenge, since it serves as a less engaging method of delivering a familiar story.

March 16 saw the release of “Tomb Raider” as an attempt to tackle the task and quell common criticisms of the genre. The film centers around video game icon Lara Croft, the titular Tomb Raider, as she embarks on an adventure to find her missing father on a mysterious, deserted island. The film does suffer some of the same predictable pitfalls as other adaptations, but Lara Croft’s footing is surprisingly stable this time around.

A re-imagined character

Back in 2001, Angelina Jolie portrayed the original version of Lara Croft: an oversexualized action heroine. In contrast, Alicia Vikander plays the far more serious protagonist of the rebooted Tomb Raider title of 2013 (which, by the way, is amazing), and she does it surprisingly well.

This Lara is a troubled young woman turned hardened survivalist. From her dramatic delivery to her muscular physique to her detailed expressions, Vikander commits. Lara is an instantly sympathetic character, and the dangers she faces are grueling, all thanks to the convincing performance.

Thankfully, director Roar Uthaug is the first of three filmmakers to treat the character like a human being. The camera does not oversexualize Lara Croft. This issue, commonly known as “The Male Gaze,” never burdens the film, and that is massively respectable.

The film’s shortcomings

Inevitably, “Tomb Raider” is not as good as the game upon which it is based. Over ten hours of story were crammed into two hours of footage, and it shows. The pacing takes a dip at the end of the second act. Some character motivations do not remain consistent. A few plot points could not hold up to even moderate scrutiny.

My biggest criticism of the film was of its villain–Vogel, played by Walton Goggins. Whereas I loved his performances in “Lincoln” and “The Hateful Eight”, Goggins mutes his performance here. He looks and sounds bored the entire movie, which is quite disappointing to see from such a skillful actor.

A final verdict

2018’s “Tomb Raider” is a mixed bag. Despite its flaws, the movie is undoubtedly entertaining. Not only is Alicia Vikander inspiring in the role, but the action throughout the movie is also clever, grounded and gripping.

The film is “popcorn” entertainment–pulpy action with a handful of effective character moments sprinkled throughout. Its protagonist is well-realized, and the the plot serves up a relatively robust adventure story, which is a miracle for a video game adaptation. On the movie grading scale, “Tomb Raider” gets a “B-” from me.

The Future of Film Criticism: School or No?

According to a recent article by Tom Shone of The Guardian titled “Should Film Critics Care About Cinematic Technique?” there is an ongoing debate in all of cinema about the future of film criticism. This debate entails whether or not film critics for magazines, blogs, and newspapers should be required to undergo some form of formal film education in order to better understand things such as, but not limited to, camera work, the film which a movie is shot on, and direction styles. As it currently stands most critics stick to things that do not require a film-school education to critique; these are things such as the acting style and the storyline/plot of the film.

Current critics argue that if they are required to go to film school, through the understanding of the work that is put into each individual shot created by the artistic vision of the director that they may not feel comfortable criticizing as harshly on the more trivial things such as acting. This would stem from an appreciation of everything that the actor, director, and camera worker had to put into each individual frame to create the piece, despite how amazing or poorly acted this scene, let alone all the scenes, might be. Still other critics claim that they should only have the experience of seeing a movie once, without a full understanding of how everything works, because this is the experience the audience would get, and let’s face it: that is who is going to be reading these reviews.

The counter argument states that these things that are learned in a formal film education are what make up the, as said by Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Magazine, “nuts and bolts” of film. To know what goes into the making of a film is to fully understand and comprehend what it means to have that movie. In a day and age where we, as a people, are overrun with technology, we can use the internet to find out anything and everything in a plot summary of a film even before it is released. If a critic is able to tell the audience, which is a key word in both sides of the debate, what makes the cinematography of this particular film in comparison to all other films, whether good or bad, could completely change the outcome of how people see that particular piece of art.

The fact that a film is just that, a work of art, is often forgotten. This begs the question ‘would people actually care to know how a certain scene was shot?’. Unfortunately art isn’t what sells cinema. A strong line of well-known actors, whether it be for their looks or their talent, a major producer, and an at least pseudo-entertaining script is all that is required to catch the attention of the typical movie goer. So then, is it really necessary for critics to write about things such as camera angles or visual effects? Would the general public read it, or would it be another student loan that unfortunately in today’s society went unnoticed?

Article by Krista Schrader

Gender Reel comes to UW-Parkside

Gender Reel is a national event dealing with gender identities of queer, queer variant, transgender, non-conforming gender individuals and their experiences. This event is open to the public and while free to attend, donations are requested to continue the work of Gender Reel. Though films will be shown each day, there are also guest speakers including Lois Bielefeld, a local filmmaker and photographer from Milwaukee. It starts on April 18 at 6pm with a speech by Bielefeld, and then films will be shown for the remainder of the day. Saturday starts at 10am and continues until 6:30pm with speakers and films again. There will be a film festival in California at the same time that our film festival will be here.

Amy Misurelli-Sorensen is pleased that we are able to have this event at Parkside. Some of the films are very short while others are longer; people are free to come and go as they please. According to Gender Reel this is the first time that they have had an event like this at a college campus. They hope that it will lead to more events and a better understanding of the transgender experience. This festival is brought to Parkside by the UW-Parkside LGBTQ Resource Center, Gallery Director Amy Misurelli-Sorensen, Director A.M. Guerriero and founder and executive chair of Gender Reel Joe Ippolito. Be sure to attend this ground breaking event at our campus if at all possible. Be part of making history in this way.

Article by Kari Tower-Sevick