Saturday, February 4, 2012

From Sam Worthington as Jake to Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman, My Heroes

We all have favorite movies and heroes and heroines. When I fall in love with a hero or heroine in a well-done movie or series, I am rabid in my attention to how they're written and their character arcs, flaws and everything in between. As a writer, I always tell other writers there is no better way to hone your craft then to pay attention to the work of other writers you admire. Today we're going to focus on my favorite heroes and why I love them.

Jake, Avatar -- Avatar has been replaying on HBO. I forgot how much I love this James Cameron movie. I am beyond impressed with the technological innovations and CGI that made this movie so clearly otherworldly. In fact, I can't believe the incredible level of detail Cameron provides on the planet Pandora. I truly believe he had a genius vision or astro-traveled to this world. For those who don't believe in such things, well, oh well. I do. Anyway, don't let me digress. The character of Jake is so well crafted and interesting that I totally fell in love with him. His multiple layers of sensitivity combined with fierce passion and bravery and even tenderness. I had seen Sam Worthington in the last installment of the Terminator film, but it was his portrayal of Jake that melted my heart. And when you consider he must emote through CGI, you should be even more impressed. I'm sure most of you have seen Avatar, and I am hoping we get a second installment soon. It's on my list of all-time favorites.

Maximus Aurelius, Gladiator -- This film was one of the first action movies that I obsessed in spades over. I can still watch it today and enjoy it. They say it was Russell Crowe's big star turn, and that you can literally watch through his performance his star rise. I would have to agree. I saw Crowe in other roles previous to this film, but he wasn't quite as memorable to watch. When he weeps over the loss of his family, he shows no vanity just pure emotion and grief. Crowe even lets the snot fly and doesn't care a lick. He is then somewhat broken and grief-stricken on so many levels. He's lost everything and told to fight for his life. He's almost lost all passion and zest when he realizes that if he keeps "slaying those dragons," he will be able to bring down his Nemesis, the new Cesar, who he knows took his own father's life (and Maximus' surrogate father) in order to seize power. CGI has come a long ways since this film was made, but you still don't see any flaws in the old technology. It's beautifully scripted, filmed and acted. It stands as a classic film work, and Crowe, in my opinion, never shined brighter.

Eric Northman, True Blood -- Sooner or later, I will turn my attention to another hero to marvel over, but my hero du jour continues to be Eric Northman. He is not the villain we thought in Season 1, and he got so much more interesting in Seasons 3 and 4. Eric Northman wields power and authority with a quiet and often ferocious demeanor, but as you go along you realize the vampire you thought was the villain contains far more shades of grey and white then black. In fact, while Bill Compton was positioned as our resident good guy in the first season, the more we go along the less good Bill looks and the less bad Eric seems. Eric for all of his nasty flaws, smug responses and knowing smirks is a terrible liar (unlike Bill), is fiercely loyal to Pam and Sookie (and Godric) and feels very protective and loving. You see those shades of black lightening up more and more. When he loses his memory in Season 4, what we see is the unvarnished good Eric that is not tainted by a 1,000 years of memories. He is open, loving and caring, and we grow to love him even more. It will be very interesting to see what turn Eric Northman takes this summer in Season 5.

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