Chris Hemsworth

November 4, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (DJ’s Take)

MIGHTY

The first Thor film was a charming and clever way to introduce the idea of gods and monsters to the relatively grounded Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Director Kenneth Branagh didn’t shy away from the absurdity of gods/aliens from a magical kingdom visiting our planet/realm.  He dove headlong into it and used dry humor to take some of the edge off the skepticism. (Are you paying attention DC execs still trying to make a Wonder Woman film?)  After Thor’s moderate box office success and a great deal of believability groundwork laid by Branagh and Joss Whedon in 2012’s The Avengers, audiences were prepared to pull back their cynical blinders to see even more otherworldly spectacle.  Alan Taylor, an untouchable don from HBO’s Game Of Thrones, grabbed the reigns for the sequel Thor: The Dark World.  And I am happy, and relieved to say that Taylor keeps the character and the series on an upward track.

Thor: The Dark World brings back The MIGHTY Avenger Thor and pits him and the people of Asgard up against a race of creatures called Dark Elves who intend on bringing back infinite darkness to the galaxy with the help of a mystical substance.  To put it more simply, Thor: The Dark World is a mcguffin film.  It is a mcguffin film much in the same way Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers was.  However, I appreciate that Alan Taylor and writer Christopher Yost used the trick of turning a character, who would be useless otherwise, into the mcguffin.  Jane Foster would typically serve the purpose of being the character who asks questions that trigger all of the expository explanations.  But here, her reasons for asking are vital to her character’s immediate survival.  (I’m looking at you Man Of Steel)  The stakes are high, the action is intense, and the scope is much bigger than before.

Alan Taylor is right at home on a medieval battlefield, and it shows.  There is an invasion scene that began to remind me of the one in the Pitch Black sequel The Chronicles Of Riddick.  However, the danger and destruction seemed to hold more weight.  The battle was more visceral and imaginative.  Taylor offers the same comforting feeling to the Asgardian material as Branagh did.  The only place where Taylor seemed a little out of his depth was in the scenes shot on modern day earth.  The scenes with normal people.  It was reported that Joss Whedon was flown in to help fix a few scenes in the film, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they involved Dr. Selvig, Jane Foster, and Darcy Lewis mucking about.  Thankfully, these scenes are minor bridges in between the battles and bedlam of the story.  Taylor should also get credit, though I’m not sure how much, for the great performances in the film.  None more so than that of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.          

Here is a little peek behind the curtain.  I usually choose a picture for my reviews that best personifies what I hated or, in this case, loved about what I’m reviewing.  Those two Asgardian gentlemen up above, and the arc their relationship takes, serves as the main reason to go see this film.  Their chemistry was a bit clumsy in the first Thor film.  Something I attribute to the rush in explaining the origins of these strange characters.  Since then, Thor and Loki’s scenes together have become better and better.  This film displays the apex of their relationship thematically and performance-wise.  There is so much subtext in every interaction and argument they have.  It is obvious that these two actors not only have a perfect rapport, but they actually enjoy working with one another.  Natalie Portman’s character of Jane Foster is less ditsy and naive then she was before.  However, Portman’s talents still feel a bit wasted with this character.  If we didn’t live in the generation of impatience, another half hour could have allowed more time to focus on Jane Foster’s hinted rivalry with Lady Sif for Thor’s affections.  All the other supporting characters come to play and seem to revel in every moment of screen time.  

Now don’t let my praise of the Thor: The Dark World lead you to believe it is perfect.  There are a few flaws the audience has to get through.  The story takes a minute to truly get going, some of the well delivered dramatic moments and gravitas are occasionally short circuited by an ill timed joke, and there are some minor plot holes to navigate.  But the biggest weakness of the film, and I never figured I’d say this, is its antagonists.  The villain of the first Thor film was primarily Loki.  An almost perfect morally gray character with varying complexities and nuances.  A villain so rich in character, most fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now cheer for him.  Hell, he all but dominated Comic-Con in a way usually reserved for people with the initials RDJ.  Malekith is a menacing and believable threat to Thor and even Odin.  However, he has about as much complexity and nuance as Inspector Gadget’s nemesis Dr. Claw.  He’s evil for evil’s sake.  We learn little about him other than he and his people want the universe draped in darkness.  I may just be a bit bitter because with a character as deadly as Malekith, played by an actor the quality of a Christopher Eccleston, I expected more depth.

Thor: The Dark World is a rare sequel.  A sequel you’ll love if you loved the original, and a sequel you might be more inclined to like even if you hated the original.  The characters are more focused and free to be who they are, the plot is more daring, and the scale is much larger.  Coming off of the mildly disappointing and geek enraging Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World is a terrific cleanser of your comic book movie pallet.  Prepare for battle…watch out for rock monsters…and nude scientists…behold it…then tell me I’m wrong.

September 11, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods – Tribute

*There could be some spoilers in the links, so tread with care*

The 2012 Summer movie season is over and I saw all the big ones; The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Amazing Spider-Man (even though some people wouldn’t agree that Spidey was a “big” Summer movie) and Prometheus.  Sure, you had The Bourne Legacy and a few other hyped movies, but my best experience came before Summer even started when “The Cabin in the Woods” FINALLY was unleashed to unsuspecting audiences in April.

Love letters are always nice when you get them from people that mean it, and people like Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard must really have a crush on me.  I feel like a mobster in “Goodfellas” and this is their Tribute to not only me, but everything they love as well.
 
The premise is simple; five stereotypes (including the nerd, jock, and stoner) are headed for a secluded cabin, are menaced by a “prophet of doom” and are attacked by monsters.  Like I said, simple…….WRONG.  Contrary to what people might think, this is a very self-aware tribute to genre films, and it’s pulled off perfectly.

Due to this movie being delayed, its a tad funny to see Chris Hemsworth, you might have seen him in a few low-budget movies like “Thor” and “The Avengers,” in one of his first roles.  You also get a few Whedon favorites like Amy Acker (Dollhouse) and Tom Lenk (Buffy and Angel)

Sprinkle some Evil Dead, a dash of Lovecraft, a sprinkle of ’50s giant monster movies, and good dose of splatter/slasher films, and you have “The Cabin in the Woods.”  This is definitely a trip you’d like to take, sure, you might end up tied up, gagged, and set on fire by people in white cherub masks, but at least you’ll finally be able to see the “merman

Fun Fact:  Please see “The White Board.”  It’s a magical experience.

 

September 3, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

YAWN

More like SLOW White And The Huntsman…am I right? (Cheap Rimshot)  Sorry.  I’m sorry.  God I really don’t want to lay into this movie.  I really don’t.  The concept, the idea, the attempt to try and make something different inside the cookie cutter constant cliched world of Hollywood should be applauded.  Its hard to find films that have balls anymore.  Films that strive to be unflinchingly different no matter what the studio execs say.  When done right, when left alone, those cojones carrying films shine like a beacon through the forest of monotony.  The reason different, interesting concept films aren’t a plenty in Hollywood is because for every Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, there is a Frank Miller’s The Spirit.  For every Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted there is a Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Slow…I mean…Snow White And The Huntsman has cojones but just doesn’t know what to do with them.

So what do we got on paper?  Lets take the tale of Snow White and make it a dark and edgy (Sigh…Thanks Nolan) action filled visual masterpiece circa The Lord Of The Rings.  Awesome!  I want to see that.  Lets make it PG-13. Ummm…kinda goes against your desire to make it edgy but…fine.  Lets cast Charlize Theron And Chris Hemsworth in it.  Terrific!  Lets only use them for a tenth of the runtime.  What?  That seems stupid.  You usually want to have your best actors in your movies MORE not less.  Unless you’ve got a really good actress to play Snow White.  Who do you got?  We got Kristen–Bell?  That could be cool.  Veronica Mars.  I like her.  No.  KristenWiig?  She’s a little old for the role.  But at least she’s funny.  No.  Kristen Stewart.  What?  Kristen Stewart.  The Twilight chic?  Yep!  The lip biting Twilight chic?  Yep!  Pumped yet?

I knew all of this going in but still anticipated watching the edgy action filled movie that I was sold on.  And the problem is…the action takes FOREVER to come.  Oh its there, in spurts.  But man, if there weren’t several 25 minutes segments where NOTHING HAPPENS.  A large majority of this film is scenes of Theron gazing into space or Stewart walking through the woods.  If you’re going to promote your film to be this action slash adventure re-imagining, you have to give me some action SLASH adventure.  All that seems to have been accomplished by this re-imagining is making a fairy tale look as dreary as possible.  Its like someone poured black mud over the entire film.  The dreariness seems to bash you over the head to the point where you don’t even recognize ANYTHING that is supposed to be action, adventure, or Snow White.  If that was the point, then the point is stupid.

I only pepped up from my head nodding drowsiness while watching this movie twice. First is when Hemsworth appears.  And that takes a good thirty minutes.  Second was when the dwarves arrive.  Hemsworth and the dwarves are the only source of levity, fun, or entertainment in this entire film.  And as I’ve mentioned before…THEY ARE HARDLY IN IT.  You have the great Ian McShane and Ray Winstone,  the hilarious Nick Frost, the always interesting Toby Jones and the legendary but sadly retired Bob Hoskins and you barely use them?  Instead, you force-feed us Stewart’s STILL NOT CUTE blandness and wooden delivery for two hours.  Stewart’s YAWN inducing acting might have been correctable if the director of the film wasn’t so busy sleeping with her on the set.  Hmmm….Perhaps I’ve gone too far.

Snow White And The Huntsman does have some amazing effects.  The performances from the supporting cast are really good…probably due to the better actors being forced into supporting roles.  Theron does a good wicked queen, which could have been a great wicked queen if the “preoccupied” director asked her to reel it in a little bit.  But at the end of the day, its just boring.  An action film that makes you sleepy IS NOT A GOOD THING.  Snow White And The Huntsman is a swing and a miss that only gives unimaginative Hollywood execs ammunition against films that go against the grain.  And for that, I can not forgive it.  Take a handfull of NoDoze…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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