Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor 2 (1)

Two years ago super hero films, as The Avengers puts it, received a game changer in the way of Thor. According to Box Office statistics it didn’t do that remarkably in way of profits — at least not in comparison to other Marvel films that were being released – but it still managed to make a marginal profit and help Marvel lead up to their biggest film yet, The Avengers. However, how this film changed the game wasn’t in money or franchising but by being the first of Marvel — and all superhero films of this era in film — that didn’t hang on the crux of the alter-ego but rather to land entirely within the supernatural and mythic. Instead of the world being saved by a super soldier that symbolizes a nation, a warmongerer that had his eyes opened and used his brilliance to the world’s benefit, or even a failed science experiment that made a monster be the destructive beast that can save as well as dismantle worlds; this time we had a God save the world. The distinction of God (or demi-god if you want to be specific) changes the scope of things to a whole new level of not only destruction but in weird that can be done in narrative.

Thor: The Dark World, does just that try to change the game again. In Thor they managed to make the film serviceable, in the realm of reality, by making it not so much about Gods fighting for power or frost giants enacting revenge, but really about a son trying to find the meaning of humility and empathy. Thor learning that there’s more than one way to live a life and that it isn’t always fixed by smashing his hammer around — though I could name a few people who wished the film skipped that lesson. In The Dark World, having dealt with all the human elements of this story we begin to get into the supernatural where Dark Elves want to ruin the cosmos and they have a weapon that is so super awesome that no one can destroy it, but it can destroy all.

In a very Lord of the Rings feeling film it seems out of place to have the minute level of character development in a mediocre action film. Revisiting Thor this past week I recognized that what I loved about that film wasn’t seeing a hammer smash worlds to bits but seeing Thor and Loki go through their own changes and discoveries. In The Dark World both are relegated to very minor character arcs and are asked to exist in a typical “superhero sequel” film where the filmmakers are demanded to provide action instead. However, it fails on almost every attempt to make action enticing. With the exception of maybe two sequences — especially one with Heimdall (Idris Elba) – there is nothing here but a mixture of unintelligible scenes that give us nothing. Even as a Loki (Tom Hiddleston) fanzine the film doesn’t quite deliver. His scenes, which tend to be of the better side of the spectrum, can be fun but feel as if they were from a different movie where people get to be entertained.

I am left wondering whether Marvel is really ready for the weird? They have The Guardians of the Galaxy coming up soon enough and a lot of discussions of characters like the Mandarin and Dr. Strange eventually being called on film goers are going to be attacked with more esoteric storylines that don’t fit into the four quadrant studio system. Does Marvel believe they can make the strange marketable or are they planning on just placing what’s marketable into a strange shell and count their dollars later?

Thor: The Dark World is a barely watchable film with moments of joy peppered around it. Seriously, thank you Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings  for sticking around for these films, you’re amazing.

What do you think of Thor: The Dark World?

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)

“You came here with a mission, sir”

I’ve come to realize, after revisiting all of the Avenger related films last week, that MARVEL and I have a special relationship. This is a relationship based solely on my gut reaction being a lot more fanboy-ish than I’d ever want to admit. So after taking a whole 24-hours to reflect on The Avengers I hope that the reaction that follows has calmed some to equate to something more understandable.

Five films in the making MARVEL decides to hand the biggest nerd culture fan boy that has the privilege of being a film director, Joss Whedon, the reigns to make their multi-billion dollar franchise tent pole film of 2012, The Avengers.

So with a film that has the task of taking four well established leading men, adding a few supporting players, and making them all play nice and then producing an adversary worthy of having them be challenged, it’s not hard to say that this could’ve gone massively wrong. The film clocks in at near two hours and thirty minutes and it’s a wonder at how there weren’t that many dead spots where plot didn’t feel too campy or character development (in this case that of the team) didn’t feel overlooked.

With Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard)* see Thor (2011) working on harnessing the power of Tesseract* see Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) at the SHIELD headquarters. Unprovoked the cube powers up and let’s Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into our realm and he steals the cube for his own purposes. This begins Sgt. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) having to call in all of his agents as well as the few extraordinary players for his Avengers – Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and added bonus Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – initiative to help deal with this threat of intergalactic war.

The first hundred minutes of the film are dedicated solely to the unification of The Avengers. These men, each are a leader in their own way, are not well playing together, for obvious reasons. However, it is the belief of Nick Fury that together they can be a force worthy of any adversary. So we’re forced to sit through a lot of bickering and half believed cohabitation here and there. The problem with that is that it isn’t anything I’d refuse to see. Watching Captain America and Tony Stark go at it, Thor and Bruce Banner is such an enjoyably comedic and action adventure fun time that I couldn’t help but refuse to see any of the obvious flaws in the film itself. I would even go so far as to say that the flaws are so minimal that they’re not even worth being too critical about.

While I have a personal attachment to the character and film of Thor, the highlight of this movie has to be Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Bruce Banner/Hulk. I deeply love The Incredible Hulk and Edward Norton’s acting there, this time around he seemed so much more frail while at the same time having a small sense of confidence that helped the slight twist for him in the third act so much more effective in that OMFG summer blockbusting way.

I guess at the end of the day this film is a true action comic book extravaganza. Not in the same way that The Raid is, or Kick-Ass is, or even The Dark Knight is, but at the same time isn’t that what makes it great. In my view MARVEL always knew to be fun at the end of the day. It may have shortchanged some great dialogue, character darkness (which has become very popular among comic book culture nowadays) and even realism, but I don’t think I’d ask for any of that if it meant giving up things like Cap America handing Nick Fury that ten dollars in the film or Agent Coulsen (Clark Gregg) being a complete fanboy or even the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) moments, especially when she gets the call to come in. This film stands out among the plethora of comic book adaptations that the internet wants to pretend it wants to stop. I rather just enjoy the ride.

Rating: 8.5/10

Tweet Questions: Directors for MARVEL Films

With Joss Whedon‘s Avengers being released in theatres this weekend I wanted to ask you all on twitter which filmmakers, who’ve yet to work in the Marvel cannon, do you think would be interesting to see work with a Marvel property?

Here were your responses:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/ShawnaWTF/status/197680157941698561"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DNGeezy/status/197686104311332864"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/redrory/status/197738735914323968"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/TheElusiveAlexT/status/197841272319389696"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DeusExCinema/status/197855240526110720"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/MovieTruth/status/197856734348443648"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/androoshaw/status/197858227445178370"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/SmallMind/status/197858326955048961"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/shloggs/status/197892949818880001"]

Look out for when I ask questions on twitter and you can get a plug here…

For those who missed it on twitter: let me know in the comments what your answer would be?

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger 3D (2011)

The Marvel Universe has many heroes in its wheelhouse, the most popular of the bunch being Spider-Man, but I believe the one that the studio truly always wanted to be their go to guy was Captian America. The character was based on numerous real life failed projects that were worked on during WWII. On the German side of the story there was a lot more fiction conjured up by creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but overall they did base their origins in what actually happened, or at least what both scientific divisions of the Americans and the Germans wanted to happen.

Joe Johnston is a director that has worked on a lot of big budget films meant for summer openings. From The Rocketeer to Jumanji to Hildalgo and eventually to this weekend’s release of Captain America: The First Avenger. So when you see this film it isn’t hard to see where his ability to meld the 40s style America into an action movie setup. However, unfortunate for him most of the action sequences that are reduced to montages of Capt. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) running through fields of HYDRA soldiers as he and his team fight their way closer to Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). With all of the action summarized in Rogers being able to brush off all of the regular people that populate the battle field the rest of the film remains unimpressive.

The film definitely tried its best to win me with it’s pretty well articulated setup for the first half of the film of how Steve Rogers, this tiny guy from Brooklyn, became Capt. America and eventually the superhero that we all know he is. It wasn’t without its ups and downs but at the same time it failed to engage me at all. So once the setup was complete and Rogers was ready to head out into the field to show that he was the real deal the film continued to just disappoint me scene after scene after scene.

What bothered me the most was the general style of action that was used. While I understand why the action scenes were done this way, it just didn’t appeal to me at all. Whenever Rogers was fighting anyone the camera would basically speed up his movements, because he’s super powered, and I’m not sure how much of it was done digitally or how it was processed but it made Evans look like he had a CG counterpart doing the action for him on screen and that was probably my least favourite thing about this movie.

A hero is only as good as his villain. While Johann Schmidt, The Red Skull, is a great villain this movie failed to really show why and due to underwhelming confrontation between the two our hero never really felt special (much less super) at all.

Rating: 2.0/10

 

“Captain America: The First Avenger” Get Enlisted in the First Full Theatrical Trailer

It’s this year’s summer movie that everyone’s hoping meets their unwarranted expectations based on the property rather than on the materials at hand. Check out the full theatrical trailer below:

Synopsis: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

Joe Johnston has directed films such as: The Wolfman, Jurassic Park III, Jumanji and The Rocketeer. Take that as you will and just imagine him with an even bigger budget and – rumored – a lack of studio intervention. This sounds like it could be okay. However, I still can’t get over the character designs. I think everything in this trailer works up until I see Chris Evans, an actor I really like, in that costume. Something about it’s existence during WWII just seems odd to me. Maybe if he was just in a really rugged uniform with lots of gear, as if he was Solid Snake from MGS, I would buy it. But this is neither real or ridiculous enough to be fantasy and I’m afraid that the finished product will be the same.

With that said, the action in the trailer look like it can work and the glances that we get of Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull looks really cool and I know I’m going to be there to see it for myself then.

What do you think of the trailer?