Archenemies

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second instalment of Renegades trilogy. Told in dual perspective between Nova (Insomnia/Nightmare) and Adrian (Sketch/Sentinel), two star crossed lovers on the opposing sides of justice. This instalment picks up immediately from the first book, with Nova continuing her mission to infiltrate the Renegades, the superhero organisation she blames for the murder of her parents. Under the guide of the Anarchists, her adopted family, she continues to learn the secrets of this powerful organisation to bring them down.

The sequel introduces Agent N, a drug which can sap the powers of any Prodigy (those with superpowers) deemed to be abusing their powers. This plot is coupled with the growing attraction between Adrian and Nova, which had taken the backburner in Renegades, who are simultaneously trying to make sure nobody uncovers their respective alter egos, including each other.

One thing Meyer does incredibly well is writing action scenes. Each action scene is heart-pounding, fascinating and unputdownable. The last third had everything we’ve come to expect from a tale of superheroes; action, secrets and betrayal.

Unfortunately, it took far too long to get to that point. This trilogy was originally meant to be a duology and it felt as though by creating a trilogy, Meyer must pad out the sequel. Having read the last book a year ago it was hard to remember every single alias and actual name of over twenty-five characters. Not to mention their superpowers. It became a process of having to recall and constantly flip to the character list every few minutes which interrupted my enjoyment of the book, where as Meyer should have spent the time to reintroduce the minor characters readers may have forgotten about.

Meyer attempts to tackle difficult topics such as what leads disillusioned people to the wrong side of justice. What happens when the line between good and bad seems grey? Yet she does so in a heavy-handed way which makes the reading didactic and preachy. There are no subtleties as we see Nova and Adrian question every move made by the Renegades and bring to light the moral issues with a plethora of rhetorical questions. The idea of the villain infiltrating the good guys is an interesting concept but not when it is used to beat the reader over the head with a constant pointing out of the flaws of the good guys. Nothing is left for the reader to think about for themselves as it is all laid out for them.

It was refreshing to see Meyer go beyond the common clichés of the superhero genre in Archenemies, a pitfall she had not managed to avoid Renegades. This may be because there was a greater emphasis on the romance between Nova and Adrian and the loyalties that their bond might test, to both themselves and their families. Personally, the action scenes were much more engaging, and the romance should have taken the backburner again.

 

3/5


Words by Georgina Banfield

Eurydice

Set in ‘The Sunken Garden’ at Holden Street Theatres, Eurydice is an intimate performance that feels like a story being read only for you. Written by Alexander Wright with music by Phil Grainger, Eurydice shows a modernisation of the Greek mythological tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. The performance is a prequel to their sister-show Orpheus, focusing instead on Eurydice’s side of the story as it intertwines the lives of goddesses, superheroes and everyday people.

Serena Manteghi plays Leni/Eurydice and Casey Jay Andrews rises to the task of playing the remaining ensemble of characters: mother, lovers, old man, goddess. Manteghi and Andrews switch between dialogue and narrative storytelling and become their characters effortlessly. These women deliver a beautiful spoken word performance and act with deep emotion, accompanied by music that perfectly sets the tone and songs that amusingly complement the modern setting of this tale.

Perhaps the most touching part of what is in every aspect a beautiful play, Manteghi and Andrews shared the stage harmoniously and were genuinely thrilled to be performing together. While courtyard is small, the energy is high.

The stripped-down nature of the set allows focus to be placed on the dialogue, which is necessary, as the play reads in a poetic and almost a stream of consciousness manner; in rising and falling waves of emotion – and you wouldn’t want to miss a word.

Eurydice is a wonderfully written story about forging your own path and becoming your own hero. It is a unique and uplifting performance that takes an ancient tale and makes it its own.


Four stars

Eurydice is showing at Holden Street Theatres until March 3, and again from March 12-16, for more information and to purchase tickets follow the link.

Words by Kirsty van de Veer

 

Deadpool 2

Everyone’s favourite anti-hero is back, in a sequel that is most definitely bigger and better.

 

Deadpool 2 immediately opens with a too-soon Hugh Jackman joke and a shot of Deadpool in his blue Crocs, which to me was an instant reassurance that I would not be disappointed with this sequel. Although fair warning – if the first 10 minutes of Avengers: Infinity War made you cry, you might want to bring a tissue to Deadpool 2 too.

 

In the sequel, we find Wade Wilson working his way around the globe, confident in his new role as a superhero, applying justice to bad guys in any continent. But right at the peak of his success, tragedy strikes, and Deadpool finds himself back with the X-Men.  They are dispatched to save Russell Collins – a 14-year old boy with out of control explosive powers – wanted by the film’s villain, Cable. Seeing Russell as a way of redemption and creating a purpose to his life, Deadpool makes it his mission to save him from danger.

 

The introduction of new characters goes well, with Russell Collins AKA Firefist (Julian Dennisen), the loveable mutant orphan, and Domino (Zazie Beetz), a superhero with the power of “luck” (which is now officially the superpower I would choose, over invisibility or super strength ANY DAY OF THE WEEK) being stand-outs of the growing cast. Josh Brolin plays the villain, Cable, his second role as a Marvel villain this month after playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, and has excellent chemistry with Reynolds, when kicking each other’s asses, or verbal taunting. It was nice to see the return of Dopinder, the taxi driver, now wanting to join the superhero leagues; and Collosus and Deadpool shared some deeply beautiful moments. Blind Al and Weasel, of course, continue to deliver some of the world’s most quotable punchlines.

 

Leaving the cinema and pondering away, I really struggled to find anything wrong with this movie. Overall, I was extremely impressed. The characters are strong, the story is well-paced (more so than the original in my opinion), and none of the visual effects were cheesy. The soundtrack – again – was a perfectly suited mash of songs you wouldn’t find compiled anywhere else (think Cher; think Frozen; think dubstep). There were plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle fandom jokes, both for the Marvel and DC buffs, and the Taylor Swift die-hards too. I also appreciated the above-average inclusiveness of the characters. Negasonic Teenage Warhead has a girlfriend, the adorable Yukio; Domino has vitiligo; and the female characters were strong, capable and funny – a combination that’s still somewhat new and shiny to Marvel and Hollywood.

 

Deadpool 2 is gory, hilarious, and well worth your attention.

 


Words by Kirsty van der Veer.

Renegades

Marissa Meyer has constructed a detailed future world where anarchy has finally lost to the Reign of the Renegades – a group of virtuous superheroes. Although, for the Anarchists who once ran Galton City, there is a simmering discontentment as they plot to take down the Renegades by using with their new weapon – Nova, or Nightmare.

In a bid to take down the Renegades, Nova infiltrates their ranks; however, when she is taken in by Adrian’s team, a boy with secrets of his own, her loyalties are tested. The line between who is really good in this battle between good and evil comes to head. Things aren’t always black and white.

Meyer’s dystopian novel highlights the current fear of a totalitarian government who means well but the inherent corruption in leadership prevents them from creating a functioning society. She portrays the dependence on government but also the pitfalls of anarchy, with those who advocate for it acting as a terrorist faction.

Despite taking the first half of the book to world build, which caused it to drag in places, Meyer has created diverse characters which reflect our current society. Her characterisation made the reader empathise with the moral conflicts of both Nova and Adrian whose loyalty and trust are tested. The relationships between characters never felt forced and with a palpable chemistry and tenderness among them, making Renegades an easy read.

Meyers focuses on character mentality through a dual point of view which allowed the reader to have a constant insight into both Nova and Adrian’s worldviews. The two protagonists have distinct voices and are easy to empathise with. Their attempts to understand their unravelling world feels reminiscent of every young person navigating our politically contentious world.

Despite this, the book occasionally read like a retelling of a superhero movie, with recycled catchphrases and predictability. There was no new spin on existing formulas and tropes either. There was the constant thought in the back of the mind that I’d seen this before. It ended on a cliff hanger. From the very beginning, it was clear that Meyer planned to make a series out of it; therefore, there was little conclusion to the conflict.

 

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A must read for superhero lovers, dystopian fans and those who adore good character development.  3.5/ 5 stars

 


 

30742387_1311083335660012_5949341883275673600_nGeorgina Banfield is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English at Flinders University. When she’s not reading, writing or listening to podcasts she can be found looking at conspiracy theories and true crime. She loves anything to do with history, literature and unsolved mysteries.

Thor: Ragnarok

In Thor: Ragnarok, the third and final instalment of the franchise, we meet Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at the tail end of an intergalactic quest to stop Ragnarok and the subsequent destruction of Asgard. But it’s not long before a new villain emerges in the form of Thor’s banished sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) the goddess of death, who quickly makes her way to Asgard to plot her conquest of the universe and generally wreak havoc. These events find Thor hammerless and stranded on a junkyard planet ruled by the half-tyrant, half-gameshow host Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and launches the film into a wonderfully colourful sci-fi adventure.

This film is unabashedly fun. It’s refreshing to see a superhero movie with such a sincere sense of humour and it’s not hard to see the influence of director Taika Waititi, well-known for independent comedies like What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). No one is exempt from this comedic touch—even the sombre Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has some great lines (‘Are you the god of hammers?’ he asks Thor at one point.) Waititi himself shines as Korg, an alien made of rock whose attempt at revolution was thwarted by a shortage of pamphlets. Even in the relatively minor role of Topaz, the Grandmaster’s right-hand-woman, Rachel House gives a wonderful comedic performance and delivers a reference to The Castle that many Australian fans are sure to enjoy. All of the cast give solid performances and, vitally important for a comedy, they clearly have a lot of fun while doing it.

While many of Marvel’s offerings have been fairly serious action flicks with a smattering of jokes dropped in at the last minute, Thor: Ragnarok is almost the polar opposite. Yet the humour is never hammy or parodic—it’s balanced well with a number of beautifully shot and, put simply, cool action sequences. There is of course the hotly anticipated battle between Thor and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) that’s been featured in the trailers, but some of the best moments come from scrapper, drunkard and former elite Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

The vibrant cinematography combines with a nostalgic soundtrack of 70s and 80s synths and rock to create some truly awe-inspiring moments. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the image of Thor facing off against a tower of undead enemies while Led Zepplin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ roars through the cinema speakers.

With delightful humour and seriously cool action, Thor: Ragnarok is a movie that knows exactly what it is and revels in it.


Words by Justina Ashman