Saturday, March 30, 2013

Character Study: Kenneth Branagh's 'Henry V'

A Darker Kind of King: Kenneth Branagh's Henry V

A flash of fire upon a matchstick illuminates Derek Jacobi’s face. He is alone in a moody sort of darkness, shrouded except for the thin light he holds up to his face. In the opening scene of the 1989 version of Henry V, the director and auteur Kenneth Branagh sets a much darker, realistic tone for the film in comparison to the earlier Laurence Olivier vision. In contrast, the 1944 film opens with a bright, birds-eye view of Elizabethan London set to swelling music as the camera pans over to the Globe Theater. In the opening scene alone, Branagh seeks to render his version of William Shakespeare’s Henry V distinctive in its gloomier vision of the famed English monarch. The atmosphere established in the earlier moments of the film is carried throughout its entirety by Branagh’s own performance as Henry, his use of music composed by Patrick Doyle, and his decision to include scenes from the text that were left out by Olivier in his version. By doing so, Branagh portrays a more complex Henry V and suggests a blacker nature beneath his charisma.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How the Legend Faltered: 'Guild Wars 2' and the Personal Story

To start, let me say that I love Guild Wars 2. Like many original Guild Wars fans, I pinned all my hopes for an MMO onto ArenaNet's return to Tyria. For the most part, Guild Wars 2 delivers. I'm as engrossed in the world and the game as much, if not more so, than any MMO to date. Unsurprisingly, of course, not everyone is happy. 

Despite Guild Wars 2's critical and commercial success, there's a portion of the player population still disgruntled over a host of varying issues. Rangers are concerned that their damage isn't up to par with other professions, more casually-oriented players cry foul over the introduction of Ascended gear, and World vs. World invaders twiddle their thumbs anticipating the promised progression for WvW in the March update.

But, for me, as a player, what bothered me most about Guild Wars 2 wasn't the bugs, the relatively imbalanced nature of the eight professions (let's be honest: Warriors are a bit OP), the lack of support for sPvP, or even the humongous foul-up that was November's Lost Shores event. No, I felt most betrayed over the disappointing mess of soulless supporting characters, unrelated narrative arcs, and lack of reward, both material and narrative, that made up Guild Wars 2's Personal Story.