Great Villain Blogathon

Sexy, oops, I mean, Mean Villain…

…gosh, what’s on my mind? This is the Great Villain Blogathon…right? And I’d put my name down for Prince John from Robin Hood (2010)…right? And, my mind is clearly elsewhere because I got sidetracked…right? Wrong…because…actually, the real villain here is not Prince John (Oscar Isaac)…he’s merely being, should we say, gently guided, by the sexiest nastiest man with ulterior motives. Oooh….but there’s just something about Godfrey, who just wouldn’t be the same if played by any other actor than Mark Strong.

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I’d very quickly realised that Prince John is simply a spoilt brat who wants his way. And he’s too busy having his way (not with his wife) to really pose any threat. Yes, he might have his moments, purely out of having some sort of power kick, but Godfrey, he’s there ever so subtly, or not, steering things. Weaseling his way into everything. Being English “when it suits me” French when that works better.

Godfrey has this presence from the very start. He’s clearly not phased by airs and graces, so comfortable is he around Philip of France during their (and our) first encounter. With that introduction comes…a perfect piece of music that will forever be associated with him…this one:

…it is Godfrey for me…staccato, slightly evasive, yet with an underlying hardness, energy, gradually increasing in drive, just like this man…all to gradually crescendo to a point where he eats the human blood stained oyster. The things people do. He encourages his men to plunder from the dead and doesn’t hesitate a moment to yank on the lance embedded in a dying knight. All in a day’s work it seems. And he’s so smooth when he does this.

And if his initial presence isn’t enough, somehow the scar on his cheek from Robin’s arrow simply makes him meaner in terms of personality as well as looks. Oh, and according to seasoned expert Prince John, the “ladies will love you all the more” for it. It amplifies his sexiness, oh no, did I write that again? “villain-ness” while he’s always listening, always scheming:

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Addressed as “my Lord” by both the French and the English, this man will casually instruct his men to get rid of someone or patiently wait in the sidelines for an opportunity to present itself. Strategically positioning himself during court meetings, saying just the right things, while Prince John is too busy dealing his family and greed issues. Wait…isn’t that an ever so slight (sly) smile on his face as he is about to officially serve the crown? Nicely played Godfrey, nicely played:

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“Choose carefully the spot Godfrey, where you would place your dagger”, so obvious to everyone including William Marshal (William Hurt). A man to be wary of.

Villain Banners 2019This must be one of the most heartless villains…who gives an old man news of his son, proudly telling him that “I’m the one who killed him” (left in a French ditch)??? To entice a fighting reaction from a blind man…plain mean.

Yet, at the end of the day, things must come to an end for him. And, while cowardly trying to race from the battlefield, this villain has had lots of personality. He has a certain presence that doesn’t even need his “signature” theme music. You notice him in all the scenes he’s in. He’s so bad yet somehow I feel drawn to him. He has the blatant audacity to pursue his goals. The way he holds himself. Confident, almost elegant. And while I obviously don’t support his behaviour, it is this type of character, acted perfectly by Mark Strong, that allows that “guilty pleasure” of being drawn to the bad guy. Because, that’s what movies allow us. Escapism.

For my previous entries to the Great Villain Blogathon, pop past Villain, Villain on the wall (here) and Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma (here). I’ve also written a piece on Mark Strong as a character actor in A Strong Character… (here)

And of course all the other entries to the Great Villain Blogathon can be found here (Shadows and Satin), here (Speakeasy) and here (Silver Screenings).

Here some impressions together with his theme song:

Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma

Njaahahahahaaaaa she cackles, rubbing her hands in glee. Another chance to shine some light on those dark characters. This year Ma-Ma gets a go. She’s got to be one of the most ruthless female villains I’ve come across. Just thinking of her gives me the shivers. Time to get all dark (hope you won’t think bad of me after this but it is The Great Villain Blogathon after all with more baddies found here). Let me introduce…Madeline Madrigal a.k.a. Ma-Ma.

Dredd9Madeline…sounds harmless. She doesn’t look too nasty above either…right? Wrong. Oh how very, very wrong.

We’ll call her Ma-Ma going forward (not Mama but slightly drawn out…Maa-Maa). I’d hate for her to be confused with a mother. Here are a few more that might help set the mood (not that we should judge by appearance):

Paint a better picture for you? I was kind enough to omit the screenshot of when the scar-producing injury is being inflicted. In fact, you may want to stop reading this post soon.

Peach Trees, a 200-storey high-rise in Mega City One, “the cursed city, stretching from Boston to Washington DC”. The building houses 75 000 registered residents of which 96% are unemployed. It has one of the highest crime rates in a city that records 17000 incidents a day. Ruling from the top floor down, Ma-Ma and her gang, the Ma-Ma Clan.

Played by Lena Headey, this is someone you’d hate to come face to face with in an alleyway (or anywhere for that matter). She is so brutal that when 3 small-time drug-dealers encroach on her turf they get…(stop reading if you are squeamish)….skinned alive, thrown off the top floor of Peach Trees…all while under the influence of SloMo…the latest drug she is punting which…yes…slows your perceptions down (substantially). Might be great if it is recreational but not so great when you see the atrium floor rapidly approaching slowly (contradiction intended).

Sent in to investigate this incident, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). They capture Kay (Wood Harris), who Anderson, through her psychic abilities, identifies as the guy who carried out the skinning. Desperate to prevent Kay from talking (I won’t reveal why) Ma-Ma gives orders to lock down the entire building until Dredd and Anderson are dead. Dredd, ever the just, loyal and fearless judge, assisted by Anderson, works his way up floor by floor, body by body, dealing justice with one goal…Ma-Ma. Easier said than done.

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Formerly a prostitute, she got cut up by her pimp. Her revenge…”Feminised the guy with her teeth”. Apparently this is when she became the woman who has no problem casually dealing out the most gruesome punishment to anyone she pleases. The poor techie (played by Domhnall Gleeson whom I barely recognised), who hacks any system for her, even had his eyes redecorated – her doing.

I honestly don’t know what could possibly justify her actions. Yes, maybe her pimp doing what he did may just have pushed her over the edge. However, watching her do what she does, there must have been some mean streak in her before then. Deep down, some darkness that was waiting to be triggered. I’d say she is one of the most vile villains I’ve come across.

Gruesome and violent, Dredd (2012) is still an excellent movie enhanced with a brilliant soundtrack. The SloMo scenes are fantastically presented with everything slowing down for added effect:

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While this is a post about Ma-Ma, I must mention that Karl Urban is perfect for the no-nonsense Judge Dredd (delivering some great deadpan lines). If you have been avoiding this one thinking “oh no! Judge Dredd” with the 1995 version in mind…don’t. With a current IMDB rating of 7.1 and 78% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (72% Audience Likes), it really isn’t bad. Written by Alex Garland and directed by Pete Travis, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, wondering how this one could possible end. You have been warned though – definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Whew, so now I need a good, light movie to watch. Something with a “kinder” villain. Or a nice good Prince Charming.

For last year’s entry into this Blogathon have a look at Villain, villain on the Wall.

*Quote taken from watching the movie

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