From the beginning I was sceptical. Once I was a fan of The Viking series, but I switched sides while viewing 5th season.
It was increasingly brutal without any reason. In my opinion, what was the core of The Vikings during the first seasons was lost.
What was it? You name it. For me, a good book, as well as a good film, has to teach us something. Not only tell a compelling story,
but also prove that humankind is better than external conditions, and humanity will connect together in one, common goal.
Because our ultimate purpose is to have a better life, a better life for each of us.
Well, we can have a better belief in ourselves when watching folks fighting for their cause…
But is it convincing enough to motivate us?
That’s why my attitude wasn’t so positive when I saw the first teaser of Barbarians on The Netflix.
It was obvious to me, the creators wanted to fulfil the gap between The Vikings seasons
and create something brutal because brutality is one of the escapism types that sell very well today.
I wasn’t so eager to watch it, but I knew there are divided opinions around the Barbarians.
The opening titles made me believe that this isn’t a good series, but more or less something that I presumed.
The entrance, the score… nothing beats Fever Ray’s “If I had a heart” and the grim opening from The Vikings.
But let’s give it a chance…maybe it has its own mood, and we have to get it thoroughly to sense the atmosphere it has.
Or maybe not…
Folks are folks
Let’s see… The Germans invaded by The Romans that is changing a lot in my preconception about brutal series made by Germans.
But does it change anything in history? I’m not here to judge any nation. I’m here to judge the series.
Although the Germanic folks are shown as people living in peace, and with more sensible moments in their life,
I can’t sense a real raw power coming from any of the characters. They are a bit flat and comical to me.
The whole series feels like it lacks something original besides well-done production aspects…
Is this series a continuation of the last Vikings season?
The story of episode one has a predictable but captivating story flow. It has some moments…
but generally, it is built around typical characters, scenes, and symbolic situations or motives.
It’s very predictable, very “I already saw it somewhere else”.
I see a similar concept to The Vikings, despite the fact I was a huge fan of that series until it just dropped the original concept.
And here is how Barbarians are similar to Vikings. Both have invader and invaded. Both have a love story between two main characters,
as well as their struggling to reach better placement among the chieftains’ hierarchy. Here and here we have a fight between tribes,
and ambition to unite them against the invader. We also have a foreseeing character in the figure of a shaman.
Even Viking Rollo has its own resemblance as young barbarian Ari, which similarly changes the camp, and even nationality.
Oh, I can go on this much longer, but as a final point just look at the throne hall where Reik
(German type of boss in the middle ages) is sitting… it’s almost the same as in the Vikings (even a camera perspective).
Are you going to smash him naturally or what?
What I always perceived as important in this kind of spectacle is fighting. I really enjoy natural actions,
and creative approach to play the role of a fighter. I just can’t stand when a play is unnatural,
and it is when the moves are fabricated or marked, the punch is not achieving its target,
and the moment of hit is masked or not shown at all.
At the end of the first episode, I’m almost curious how they will look in the bigger fight,
and how they will manage a crowd of fighters. Interesting is also how naturally will be the brutal force and mass battles at all.
Oh! Something has changed!
The second episode was a total surprise for me. Almost like the show took its own path, the tempo is slower,
scenes are more detailed, and there is enough time to focus on the atmosphere and the actors’ faces.
I wouldn’t say that it changes my first opinion about selling the show on the wave of brutality that went directly from The Vikings.
The series translates and mimics The Vikings into its own language, and builds a foundation on it. We may say that in dark times,
people were similar, and there are not enough possibilities to build a screenplay on them.
But I believe the first episode was there because creators planned to plan in our heads the associations to The Viking series.
The Barbarian show unnaturally fulfils the “need of more” among The Vikings fans.
It’s almost like The Vikings put in a different skin with a reshaped and interlaced screenplay. Again, but not so good one…
The Vikings series has a big segment of fans, and this segment doesn’t have enough shows to see atm.
It was a calculated move from the Netflix and Barbarians creators. Was it worth it? Was it profitable?
Two different questions, but If you are The Vikings fan,
I guess you need to see for yourself because there are different types of Vikings fans.
Am I convinced?
It already grabbed my attention during the second episode, and the fights are more convincing.
And even when I couldn’t stop watching the whole available season at once,
it still feels like the series is playing on our needs and expectations.
It gives us already battle-tested solutions on how to keep the spectator in front of the screen,
asking for more. It isn’t exploring the possibilities, more or less it does what later episodes of The Vikings did,
it goes nicely on what brings attention, and doesn’t give a damn about new options.
The plus is that it gives us new perspectives on some difficult situations we experience in life.
And it is even poetic at some points. There is just not enough of its own character.
Maybe if the mood could be more immersing, and art design more natural,
I could be more convinced of what’s going on there. Everything feels like it was made for the purpose of this film,
but not in a natural way, more like fabricated. And too often I’m sensing the fourth wall.
One thing is taking my attention from the second to 6th episode…
and this thing is an emotional invitation to watch the progress of characters. You know…
who will kill who, who will love who, who will betray, and who will become a king.
Basic level of involvement – works on most of us, it won’t if you are a psycho,
but then, you look for more brutalism.
We also experience a typical transformation of main characters, from naive,
more humanitarian, into aggressive and appropriative…
Although the transgression happens so fast, that I sense it’s not naturally done.
In real life, you need more bad experiences and certainly time to progress or move on the dark side.
And the verdict is?
It’s worth watching when you are looking for this specific setting and early ages brutalism,
but it’s less worth when you were a fan tired of the later Vikings. It is worth it when you aren’t.
Billy Glow for Levile TV