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The Queen’s Gambit – Review

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Beth Harmon The Queen's Gambit image
Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit, starring Anya Taylor Joy, arrived on 23 October this year on Netflix, here’s our review of Season One.

It’s based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis. The author comments that he was not inspired by any specific player to create the main character. He was inspired by his experiences as a chess player and in his tournaments.

He also took inspiration in his daughter and his aunt since they had powerful character. Both served to be the model of Beth’s personality and attitude.

How did this series originate?

At an early age, Beth is an orphan girl who discovers her true passion and vocation: chess. The story transports us to the United States in the 50s. She will live and experience a wave of emotions and learning with it, on the way to trying to become a chess champion.

The Queen’s Gambit shows that a series can be exciting, adorable, and show a great visual style. Unlike other series released in recent months on Netflix, it has a content of value that goes beyond a beautiful dress.

Scott Frank and Allan Scott are the people in charge and the masterminds behind this project. They make chess one of the most exciting activities thanks to a dynamic montage that takes away the tedium from most of the games.

They also have an incredible setting. Although the camera loves chess and its pieces, also loves the people behind them.

How does Beth move on the board of her life?

Anya Taylor Joy is in charge of giving life to Beth. In this role, it is verified that she is, currently, one of the most talented actresses of her generation.

Like the game, the character does not ask for permission to make the next move. She acts on her instincts and looking out for her best interests at the moment. Although sometimes her decisions do not always end up being favourable.

During these games, the camera focuses on Beth’s face, eyes, and hands. This makes the viewer understand that the intention is not to teach the plays. The most important thing is the weight that each action on the board has within the protagonist.

It can be said that Anya Taylor Joy has managed to channel those emotions without problems. The spectators, even if they do not know chess and do not understand anything of what happens in the games, can feel anxious and excited. Everyone wishes that Beth wins again.

The white and black pieces of history

Now, both the loss and the search for purpose are two key elements in the story. Not only for the protagonist but also for all the characters that go with her, such as her mother. It is quite interesting and striking how Alma’s character, played by the wonderful Marielle Heller, was developed.

It is memorable the exquisite way they explored the adolescence of Beth, as she only wants to experience life. Her methods were drinking, using pills, and dating strangers.

Also, it is completely fascinating how they pose the relationship between mother and daughter. There is a kind of agreement or empathy not expressed verbally.

In fact, the mother often acts childishly; she leaves her daughter in the background as she is searching for her own place in life. Yet, this is not something that creates conflict, as Beth’s character understands her. And it is not natural that she can have this way of understanding. Beth also asks herself every day: where is my life going? Who am I without chess?

In fact, there are chapters where the mother’s behaviour works as a trigger for Beth to ask these questions and keep them in her head forever. At this moment, it becomes more evident how each of the games serves her as a catharsis. With these games, Beth can unload all her fears and insecurities.

Something peculiar is how the series touches on delicate topics, such as addictions, abandonment, and death. In reality, the series never pretends to be a tragedy. Thus, it is not that this is being taken superficially, but that they do not take it to its last consequences to maintain an optimistic arc. This is the general tone of the series: one that excites you and not one that depresses you.

From children’s games to adult games

Now, it is important to highlight how wonderful the subject of sexuality was treated, especially in the scenes of Beth’s childhood. We often forget that curiosity about sex begins to exist from a very young age. Our review finds that the way it is treated in The Queen’s Gambit, through a girl of only nine years old, is very well achieved.

Besides the fact that this topic evolves as Beth grows, it also addresses issues of sexuality, desire, and love. It is very important to note that the actress who played Beth in her child version, Johnston Island, did it fantastically.

The creators had a monumental task by showing different games in each episode without losing the rhythm and strength. In particular, it seems to me that they managed to solve it elegantly. Although sometimes it can get boring to watch so many chess games in one episode, the truth is that they do manage to keep the attention in most of them.

Something stunning was the use and treatment of ellipsis and time jumps, not only between years but also between days. This shows that they knew well what must be shown to avoid plot holes; In this way, the story managed to flow gracefully and naturally.

The most powerful piece on the board

Another important point to highlight is that the series is addressing the issue of a girl in the middle of a manly activity. The way they treat feminism in this miniseries is perfect. In fact, the character does not like that articles written about her always highlights the fact that she is the only woman. She considers that this is not her most relevant attribute or merit.

She doesn’t want labels, she wants to be the best at what she does, and that is exactly where we should aim. Stop thinking only as a woman in a sea of men, because it is not only about a woman standing out, but a human being.

Emotions in every movement

Finally, in our review, The Queen’s Gambit is a charming and exciting series, with a very tasteful production. The production reflects the Cold War era, both in spaces and in the clothing that elegantly evolves into Beth.

If we see it well, the white and black board is only the space for our protagonist to display her most intimate fears and emotions. Then we, as spectators, have the joy of witnessing her plays in the front row.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 10/10


Thank you for reading our review of The Queen’s Gambit. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read more of our Netflix reviews HERE.

Read IMDB information about The Queen’s Gambit HERE.

The Queen’s Gambit is streaming now on Netflix.

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TV News

Loki Episode 6 – Review

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Loki episode 6 image
Marvel Studios

Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

More to come

The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.

Introducing the big bad

We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.

She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.

Loki fight

Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.

Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.

Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.

Setting up season two

Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.

Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.

I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.

Phase 4 groundwork

It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.

There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.

But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10


Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read our Loki episode five review HERE.

Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.

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