Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Irish People

All round good reviews. Some fantastic actors. Irish accents. Tempted to watch the movie already? You should be. Created by the brother of In Bruges' director Martin McDonagh, we have another dark comedy starring Irish men and dead bodies. So let's see how it is. This is The Guard.

Unorthodox police officer, Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), works for The Irish Guard in a Gaelic speaking region of Ireland. One day he finds himself with a chirpy, young new partner as they investigate a recently murdered body. After many inappropriate jokes from Boyle, they go for a drink. Well, Boyle goes for a drink. Later they discover the FBI are around looking to bust a massive cocaine smuggling business. FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), leading the operation in Ireland, informs the local Guard of the situation. They are looking for five men. After some confrontation, Boyle informs Everett that they are only looking for four men; the fifth was the murdered body he was investigating. And thus, Everett and Boyle are thrust into investigating together. After the mysterious disappearance of Boyle's new partner, things start to get more and more interesting. Looks like it's time for a think over a Guinness.

Official report: The victim's life was flipped upside down

Brendan Gleeson, as always, is absolutely fantastic. I haven't laughed at one man so much for a long time. There's something very subtle about Gleeson's performance, despite playing one of the most out going and forward characters around. Underneath all that, there's a visible pain. The pain of his mother being so close to death or the fact that only prostitutes like him, and these things just build Boyle as a character and make him constantly interesting to watch, right until the last moment. Don Cheadle is great as well. Admittedly, he's a lot weaker than Gleeson, but he's the straight man to Boyle's ridiculousness. It's a combo that I could watch again and again. The bad guys are also fantastic, particularly Mark Strong. The 'get things done' criminal amongst evil masterminds, or people that wish they were evil masterminds, is suddenly a lot more engaging to watch than he would be in other circumstances.

Boyle's investigations were getting a little childish.

John Michael McDonagh is a long way off his brother. While his script is hilarious, touching, and dark, he lacks the thing that Martin McDonagh does so well: heart. There's a lack of heart to the movie. Characters develop randomly at points with decisions that are simply never explained. It is so almost there and, with a little more work, John Michael McDonagh will be producing fine work. The setting of country Ireland, however, is shot so beautiful and the soundtrack is so wonderfully chosen. Technically, it is a great film. There's just that layer of heart missing.

Despite that, The Guard is a wonderfully satisfying movie. It finishes well, something that's very hard for a rogue buddy cop sort of film, and keeps you laughing along the way. Definitely worth watching.

Best bit? The bit I laughed at most was the car ride with Boyle and Everett where they discuss Disneyworld and babies. I simply could not stop laughing.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Which Avenger Is Best ? (Part 3) Iron Man and Thor (Spoilers)

I'll throw a SPOILER ALERT right here again in case you missed it. Below I review each Avenger and some other important characters to decide who the best is. There will be several systems of voting including:
  • Badassness - How badass are they? I need some DAYYUMM moments. 
  • Wit - Can they make you laugh or banter brilliantly?
  • Intelligence - What smarts do they have?
  • Heart - Are they a team player? What is their limit? Would the sacrifice themselves for the world?
  • Style -  How good do they look while they do what they do?
  • Hotness - Hotness impacts how much we want to watch them...
This will hopefully determine the Best Avenger.

Iron Man/ Tony Stark
  • Badassness- There's something automatically badass about a man who already has everything and yet still chooses to fly around in a metal suit of armour trying to save the world. He risks his life twice in order to help save the world, he takes out Thor mid sentence. He then continued on to fight Thor (and it was epic and badass) He has lasers in his arms, he tries a new method based on Jonah and the whale, he doesn't fall victim to Loki's brainwashing. Oh yeah, and he hacks into S.H.I.E.L.D Badass rating: 10/10
  • Wit- Everything Stark says drips in wit and sarcasm. Creating an original Shakespeare in order to mock Thor, congratulating The Cap and his efforts with modern technology, being confused when Agent Coulson is called Phil ('His first name is Agent') He's just a funny guy and a cocky bastard. They say you have to be smart to be witty... Stark has that down. Wit rating: 10/10
  • Intelligence- Inventing a suit of armour that builds itself around you as you walk along a platform is pretty smart. Making it build around you as you fall out of the sky, is pretty smart. Inventing a flying suit of armour in the first place is pretty smart. He hacks into S.H.I.E.L.D and discovers their secrets and his intelligence has made him ridiculously rich. He's the only person that can understand Banner when they talk... science. Intelligence rating: 10/10 
  • Heart- Tony Stark does not play well with others. This is evident throughout the film. He's rude, sarcastic, puts everyone at risk by poking fun at banner. Despite all this, he loves Pepper Pots and he risks his life numerous times in order to help or save the team/world. It takes a lot of guts to fly a bomb into a portal to another world that is closing behind you, especially when your suit is almost out of power.  Heart rating: 7/10
  • Style- Tony Stark handles everything with a surrounding presence of cool. He offers an evil god of mischief a drink. He flew into the mouth of a giant alien creature and blew it up from the inside. Just everything is done with style. However, his carelessness (particularly with Banner) is stupid. It's not cool and he gets immature. It's a good thing he has those super cool and stylish hologram computers. Style rating: 9/10
  • Hotness- Well, he's cocky and that confidence and arrogance is somewhat attractive. However, he is getting on. Again, like Banner, he looks old enough to be half the viewers' dad but I'm sure they all 'would'. Plus he's an action hero and a genius. Rather attractive qualities to most people I am sure.  Hotness rating: 8/10

  • Badassness- Well, he's from a different realm and he's had to get his father to conjure up enough power to send him to Earth and on top of that he's a god. Why did he return? Simply to collect his jackass of a brother. All of that to get his brother. He then proceeds to fight Iron Man and attempts to attack Captain America. When he's involved with the team, he works well with others. No rouge side here, but he'll still kick your ass. Badass rating: 8/10
  • Wit- A god does not participate in the childish banter of the mere mortals. In fact, he stands to the side and points out how petty they all are. He just want's to return Loki to Asgard without too much hassle. Evidently, Loki was always the more outspoken one and Thor was a bit more serious. Wit rating: 2/10
  • Intelligence- He has knowledge beyond our realm. He understands space and the stars better than any astrologer. But yet, here on Earth, he is a bit out of place. This is mostly shown in his solo movie (smashing coffee mugs, ordering a dog to ride) but, again, his main task is to collect his naughty brother and hand him over to the justice system in Asgard. I suppose you could say his intelligence is relative to the context surrounding him Intelligence rating: 6/10 
  • Heart- Family comes first. Always. Despite his brother killing dozens upon dozens of people, he still stands by and states his love for him. He has no wish to kill him, only arrest him. And one of the first things he does when beginning to work with S.H.I.E.L.D is he checks that Jane is okay (from his solo movie). Yes, family and friends are important. But he's also quick to angry or offend. Bless well spoken Thor. Heart rating: 8/10
  • Style- He wears a cape. If that's not stylish then I don't know what is. Also, he talks with such grace and grandness that you can't help but love everything he says. He can make his hammer fly around the room into his hand and, oh yeah, his weapon of choice is a hammer. Now that's stylish. He also stops The Avengers mid flight to get his brother back and starts a group brawl. Though he doesn't handle it quite as well as Iron Man. If only he had more cool stunts to do.  Style rating: 8/10
  • Hotness- When fully clad in his armour, it leaves a lot to the imagination, perhaps too much. Some girls go crazy for long blonde, wild hair but not all. In his solo movie he is adorable at the same time as being smoking hot. Something about the human clothing that makes him more attractive. The armour seems a bit over the top. But still, look at those arm muscles. It would be impossible to claim they're not hot. Hotness rating: 7/10

Monday, 14 May 2012

Which Avenger Is Best ? (Part 2) Hawkeye and The Hulk (Spoilers)

I'll throw a SPOILER ALERT right here again in case you missed it. Below I review each Avenger and some other important characters to decide who the best is. There will be several systems of voting including:
  • Badassness - How badass are they? I need some DAYYUMM moments. 
  • Wit - Can they make you laugh or banter brilliantly?
  • Intelligence - What smarts do they have?
  • Heart - Are they a team player? What is their limit? Would the sacrifice themselves for the world?
  • Style -  How good do they look while they do what they do?
  • Hotness - Hotness impacts how much we want to watch them...
This will hopefully determine the Best Avenger.

Hawkeye/ Agent Clint Barton

  • Badassness- Using a bow instead of another weapon makes you a badass from the go. Using arrows that explode or grapple or other such interesting, unconventional arrow uses is another thing you learn in badass 101. Taking out half of a flying aircraft carrier just with arrows is pretty badass. Not looking where you're shooting and still getting a direct hit is commonly considered as badass. Jumping backwards off buildings is badass, I guess. Oh, and taking out Loki even when he thought he'd beaten the arrow... Badass. Badass rating: 9/10
  • Wit- Unfortunately, Hawkeye spends most of his time on screen brainwashed or not speaking. When he does finally get involved in the action, he has a couple of moments that show his wit but mostly he sets up for other people. However, he seems to enjoy hearing the other people being witty which shows he's not devoid of it. Wit rating: 4/10
  • Intelligence- A smart soldier. One must be to have the concentration and capability that Hawkeye shows with his archery. Only a smart man could work out the how to take out a flying aircraft characters with limited arrows. ARROWS. That being said, he's not the brains behind any operation, more of a tool in everyone else's war. Intelligence rating: 6/10 
  • Heart- Considering for half of the movie he's brainwashed by Loki, we see Clint's heart when he comes back to the good side. His friendship with Natasha. His immediate jumping into the deep end. His regret and self hatred after he realises what's happened. we can see all these things come from his heart being in a good place. He's a dedicated agent and he does not want to slip back into a darker world. Heart rating: 7/10
  • Style- Clint has style. As mentioned earlier in the badassery section, he dives out of buildings backwards with only a single arrow to save him, he doesn't always look where he's shooting but he still hits. He even fired at Loki when no one else could get at him. Hawkeye is one stylish mutha effer.  Style rating: 9/10
  • Hotness- Hottest when he's doing is frown/scowl. When he smiles it can seem a bit odd. All the cool stuff he does is hot too... Also, when brainwashed, his eyes don't match the rest of him and that is unattractive and somewhat spooky. Without the weird eyes he'd get a eight, with the eyes he gets a six. And so...  Hotness rating: 7/10

The Hulk/ Dr. Bruce Banner
  • Badassness- Bruce Banner is a calm guy. Well, he's always angry, but he seems calm. He represses whatever monster is inside of him. Sure, he's a genius but that's a bit rubbish in terms of being a badass. However, The Hulk destroys planes in seconds. The Hulk can make even the bravest people hide. The Hulk smashed Loki into the ground and called him a 'puny god' after using him as a rag doll. The Hulk saved Iron Man's life. The Hulk is almost the definition of Badass. Considering both sides of his personality...  Badass rating: 8/10
  • Wit- As Bruce Banner is deeply troubled and angry, he's not the sort of man to participate lightly in jokes. The Hulk, also, is not one to participate in the banter around the office as...well... he's not invited and doesn't talk. Though, Bruce does trick Black Widow into thinking he's gonna blow and he has the occasional dead pan comic line... Wit rating: 2/10
  • Intelligence- Well, there's not really a lot to discuss here. Bruce Banner, as described by Agent Coulson, is like Stephen Hawking... A very smart person. No one knows gamma radiation like him. The only reason he's involved with The Avengers is because he's so intelligent. No one understands what he says most of the time... Well, except Stark. Intelligence rating: 10/10 
  • Heart- The first time we meet Banner in The Avengers, he's nursing people back to health. He rushes across a town at the whim of a little girl. He then goes to help save the world with his intelligence. He never (really) mocks anyone. He saves Iron Man's life but he doesn't mind smashing the hell out of other good guys as The Hulk. His heart is in the right place when he's banner and sometimes when he's The Hulk.  Heart rating: 8/10
  • Style- The Hulk smashes. That is all. Banner gets his work done. That is all. Admittedly, when he controls his transformation into The Hulk, he does it with style and when he is found in a warehouse naked, he handles it with dignity.  Style rating: 3/10
  • Hotness- He's getting on a bit. Greying hair and so on. But he's still got those ruggedly good looks even if they're ageing. However, The Hulk is not attractive. Not at all. So, Banner is smart and a bit of a silver fox. Attractive but also has one of those old-enough-to-be-your-dad vibes.  Hotness rating: 6/10 (Hulk - 1/10)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Which Avenger Is Best ? (Part 1) Black Widow and Captain America (Spoilers)

I'll throw a SPOILER ALERT right here again in case you missed it. Below I review each Avenger and some other important characters to decide who the best is. There will be several systems of voting including:
  • Badassness - How badass are they? I need some DAYYUMM moments. 
  • Wit - Can they make you laugh or banter brilliantly?
  • Intelligence - What smarts do they have?
  • Heart - Are they a team player? What is their limit? Would the sacrifice themselves for the world?
  • Style -  How good do they look while they do what they do?
  • Hotness - Hotness impacts how much we want to watch them...
This will hopefully determine the Best Avenger.

Black Widow/ Agent Romanoff
  • BadassnessBlack Widow/ Agent Romanoff is a secret military agent/ assassin. That's pretty badass on its own. Let alone the fact she can beat up three guys whilst tied to a chair and in her Sunday best. Oh and don't forget killing a guy with her thighs... and using a metal walkway as if it were a gymnast's pole in order to beat the crap out of Clint. She also outsmarts Loki, god of mischief. Yeah, she's pretty badass. Well, until she hides from Hulk... She stops running and panics. That's not badass. Badass rating: 8/10
  • Wit- A more serious member of the team. She's not rich, she's not a god, she's not a super soldier. She's just doing her job and trying to erase the red from her ledger. She has some snarky moments 'I don't see how that's a party' but she focuses more on the task in hand than banter. Wit rating: 3/10
  • IntelligenceShe is smart. She outsmarts Loki, she convinces her opponents that they have the upper hand when she's really getting what she wants. She convinces Banner to come along to join The Avengers and she's smart enough to run when the Hulk comes out. However, she couldn't read Banner when he pretends to be angry and this causes a whole response team to surround the building. Not smart. Intelligence rating: 7/10
  • Heart- She begs for Tony to be okay at the end and she's there for Clint every step of his recovery, she cares about her team mates. She even tries to help Bruce when he starts transforming. But when she panics after the Hulk chases her she sits around crying rather than jumping into action to help her fellow man. All this being said, her primary motive is to complete the mission, even if it is because she wants to erase her past. Heart rating: 7/10
  • StyleThe girl has style. That goes without saying. I mean, fighting three guys in a dress? Killing with thighs? Jumping and flipping past obstacles and onto enemy ships? Yeah, she knows what she's doing and she makes it look good. Even when she panics and runs from Hulk she makes it look good. And her interrogation style is better than any other. Style Rating: 9/10
  • HotnessTo claim that Black Widow isn't hot would be a crime. She is fine. All the time. Always. Her being a badass only makes her more sexy. The scene where she is fighting in a dress is boobiful beautiful. Hothothothothothot. The only time when she's not hot is when she gets scared. It takes away from the badass sex appeal. Hotness rating: 9/10

Captain America/ Steve Rogers
  • Badassness- Well, Captain America. The patriotic hero. He's stronger than any other man and can reflect Thor's hammer with a shield. However, he never really jumped up and said, 'look how badass I am'. No he's more of a get the job done and save the world as quickly and efficiently as possible. Though he does break into S.H.I.E.L.D's weapon locker and break up Thor and Iron Man's fight. And he does kick ass. Badass rating: 5/10
  • Wit- Again, the Cap is more of a straight player. When there's a cat fight breaking out, the Cap is the one who tries to break it up. Yeah, he's that guy. He doesn't understand the modern jokes. He's from a more serious time when duty was the most important thing. Wit rating: 2/10
  • Intelligence- He's a smart guy considering he's 70 years out of his own time zone. He doesn't lack intelligence, he lacks modern understanding. But he knows how to handle a situation. He makes no bad choices and even instructs New York's finest. Though don't let him argue with Stark... He won't understand a word. Intelligence rating: 7/10 
  • Heart- America. The heart of the world. Captain America. The heart of the heart. He tries to save everyone. He puts everyone before himself. Even when beaten to a pulp he carries on. He even shields Black Widow with his shield during an explosion. Heart rating: 10/10
  • Style- Captain America is all about getting things done. Admittedly, when breaking up Thor and Iron Man's fight, he does it like a pro. He swaggers on in, holds his shield up and half the forest falls down. And there is something extremely stylish about throwing the shield. But mainly, his aim is to help. Style rating: 5/10
  • Hotness- Well, in his solo movie, the girl sitting next to me was drooling everytime he was on screen. She did the same in Avengers, but only when he didn't have his head piece on. He's sweet, sensitive, strong, and dedicated. With a super hot body. Hotness rating: 10/10
Can't imagine anyone complaining if
  he gets down on one knee for them...

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Group Of Freaks... To Save The World

2012 was always going to be a year for highly anticipated movies. Batman, The Hunger Games, Men In Black, The Hobbit, Spiderman. But there was one movie that the superhero fan world were preparing for. They'd been preparing since Iron Man 2. They got super excited with the release of Thor. They practically melted after Captain America. Why? Because soon, all of these movies would combine to create the superhero super-team known only as The Avengers. (Well, the film is known as Marvel's Avengers Assemble over here in England)

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), and their team at S.H.I.E.L.D have been trying to harness the power of the The Tesseract which they rescued from the sea when they picked up Captain America. However, it starts to misbehave. Agent Coulson and Nick Fury order an evacuation as The Tesseract opens a portal in space and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the god of mischief, appears in it. Within seconds several men are dead, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Agent Clint Barton - aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) - brainwashed onto Loki's side and The Tesseract in the hands of the mischievous god. Loki plans to unleash an army on Earth so that he may rule it. Fury resorts to a desperate method, a project that was abandoned: The Avengers Initiative. With the help of Coulson and Agent Natasha Romanoff - aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) - Fury begins to round up his super team to take down Loki. His team consists of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr. Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans). Thor(Chris Hemsworth_ also decides to join the team but because he believes Loki and The Tesseract should be back in Asgard with him. They name themselves The Avengers and go out to stop Loki and protect the Earth... Or at least make damn sure they avenge it.

hothothothothothothothot (for both genders)

As far as action/superhero/adventure movies go, this one had some solid acting. There were some moments that really stood out. Tony Stark's tears, Hawkeye's realisations, Cobie Smulders  not being Robin from How I Met Your Mother. Some honestly great acting from all involved, but mostly, it was at a level that you would expect from a blockbuster. Tom Hiddleston's Loki takes a step up from Thor in all senses. He's more evil, more delightful, more dastardly, and better acted. He's a joy and a pleasure to watch; everything a superhero should be. Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. reprise their roles as the two coolest people in the universe with Hawkeye and Iron Man respectively. They both just drip with coolness. Downey Jr.'s laid back response to everything and Renner's pure badassery... Or should I say badarchery? No? Some of the best acting, continuously, comes from Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner who seems genuinely pained by his power and what he becomes. It seems like it eats at him and that it is constantly inside him. Scarlett Johansson and Cobie Smulders as Black Widow and Agent Maria Hill respectively both have their moments of excellence, awesomeness, and sexy badassery. They're just hothothothot chicks. And Chris Evans does wonderfully, reprising his role as Steve Rogers. The good guy heart pumps inside him all the time and his extremely funny reactions to modern things are priceless. ('It seems to run on some sort of electricity...')

It was only now, suit in front of him, that Steve realised it...
'How do I get into it?'

Now, there is a layer of brilliance to this film that other blockbusters don't have. It dives straight into it. It's a very short time until people are dying at the hands of Loki. What I love about this is it gives you no time to get bored. It straight away jumps into the action and keeps you engaged the entire time without letting off. just as one action scene is over, another is beginning. And not a small one either, they're big ones.. Massive ones. But don't think it doesn't have a coherent or decent plot line. It tells a great, if not simple, story but it doesn't try to be anything more than that like other movies can try to. As far as action goes, Joss Whedon has found a pretty perfect balance. It's funny, it's touching, it's epic, it's engaging, it's action-packed, it's thrilling, and did I mention it's epic? A brilliantly witty script too with plenty of 'banter' to keep you engaged. A couple of small complaints though. The almost needless 3D is one. Yes, it looked nice at points. However, with so much going on on the screen, it can be difficult to follow and some things looked... well... a bit crap and out of place, visually.  It gave me a bit of a 3D headache, something I've never had a problem with before. The other issue I had was the (very occasional) flat jokes. The things that were obviously thrown in to be funny but so obviously it seemed wasted. A close up shot of a worker changing back to playing games on his monitor when Fury isn't looking is my main example. Someone noticing that in the background is funny. When a whole shot is deditcated to it, it seems immature and a desperate attempt for laughs in an otherwise hilarious script.

When Stark asked, 'What's up?' the two not from
 modern Earth took it a little too literally.

A solid action movie. A solid superhero movie. A solid adventure movie. Funny, action packed, intelligent, and fast paced. It's the sort of movie you could watch again straight after seeing it.  A well written script with great actors. It also is the sort of movie that has so much you can talk about afterwards. I heard people claim it was the best superhero movie ever? I personally disagree. It's excellent. It's the best of it's kind. I personally prefer The Dark Knight as a superhero movie, but each to their own. Don't get me wrong, I will almost certainly buy this on DVD the second it comes out. Also, see my next post for a break down on each of The Avengers and who is the best.

Best Bit? So many good bits. Personally, I adored Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America's fight near the beginning of the movie. It cracked me up and was visually incredible.

Patriotic Superheroes Are a Thing Of The Past

With the record breaking release of The Avengers (which I will be reviewing, don't you worry) I thought it's about time we jumped back and had a look at some of the other movies that have led up to this. I've already looked at Iron Man 2 but I've neglected a couple of others. Let's make it up to them. Now we look at the first (and also last) Avenger: Captain America.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a scrawny little fella, has dreams of joining his fellow men in laying down his life for his country. not because war excites him, but because he thinks, 'why should he do any less.' Unfortunately, he's completely unsuitable, physically, for the army and keeps getting rejected. That is, until Dr Erksine (Stanley Tucci) presents him with the opportunity. He immediately signs up and heads off to boot camp. It's obvious, when he stands next to the other soldiers, that he truly was not suitable for the army, as Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) isn't hesitant to point out. Once again, Dr Erksine comes up with a solution. An experiment known as Project Rebirth put together by Dr Erksine and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) (Tony Stark's father). Rogers is chosen because of his humanity, because he's a good person, because he, above all others, will value the rewards of the experiment. Project Rebirth gives Rogers super human strength and abilities. The allies begin using him as a form of propaganda under the name Captain America. But when it turns out the Captain's old friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) might be in trouble, he turns to Stark and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to help him take matters into his own hands and find the evil Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), otherwise known as Red Skull.

Schmidt rehearsing for the annual Nazi show...
They're doing Hamlet. 

A wonderfully well cast movie. Hugo Weaving was a nigh perfect Red Skull. He was delightfully evil and equally chaotic and plain insane. It's always hard to play a super hero antagonist just right as everyone has different interpretations on how they should come across on film (For example, the realism in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies compared to the cheesiness of some other superheroes.) Hugo Weaving managed to strike a nice balance that should please everyone. Chris Evans was fantastic as Captain America, the soldier with a heart the size of America. Admittedly, it was hard to focus on him as every time he appeared on screen my friend had a little fan-girl session. But he did a swell job even though his face and voice did not match his small body at the beginning. Stanley Tucci... well, what can't he do? Another fantastic role from him. I never felt any care, however, for Hayley Atwell's Peggy. She seemed far too plain for Captain America. I honestly felt more attached to the random blonde who randomly kisses Captain America in a cheeky moment of weakness.

On second thoughts... Fan-girling over Chris Evans is allowed.

There were some brilliant decisions with the movie. Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark was a bit of casting genius. The CGI was all solidly handled - people really looked like they were exploding in a plume of blue. Considering how cheesy Captain America has the potential to be, Joe Johnston handled it extremely well. He kept the cheese but presented it with a slight disdain and focused more on the darker elements of the Cap. The war, Red Skull's insanity, the deaths. Things like the sequence of cheesy propaganda stops to Star Spangled Man (A fantastic song. Why was it nominated for an Oscar? Academy? You have some explaining to do...) were fantastically cheesy but Johnston made sure you could see the way it ate away at Rogers. My only major issue with the film was the pacing. There were moments that dragged and dragged on and then they were followed by some incredible action. My advice to the film makers would be cut half an hour. Dragging is one of the worst things in a movie. If someone has to check how long is left, you;ve made a mistake with the pacing.

Overall, a good superhero movie. Not quite as good as the first Iron Man or Thor, but enough to keep us excited for more in the form of The Avengers. A good back story to a good character and one that I could
happily see in more movies, providing that they're shorter.

Best Bit? I'm always a sucker for a good army training montage. Therefore, I shall say boot camp. I loved seeing Rogers at the top of his intelligence and heart.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The God Of Thunder

With the record breaking release of The Avengers (which I will be reviewing, don't you worry) I thought it's about time we jumped back and had a look at some of the other movies that have led up to this. I've already looked at Iron Man 2 but I've neglected a couple of others. Let's make it up to them. Starting with the Asgardian 'god', Thor.

Somewhere out there, there are other realms. One of these realms is the realm of Asgard. In other realms, particularly Earth, the Asgardians are regarded and worshipped as deities. A long time ago, they fought an evil race known as the Frost Giants, who were rather fond of attacking Earth. The Frost Giants were defeated by the Asgardians, led by the king Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and their power source was taken away. Odin recites this story to the audience by telling his two sons, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Time passes and Thor, as the oldest son of Odin, is preparing to take over as king. However, the coronation ceremony is disrupted by a few Frost Giants who are trying to steal back their power source. Thor demands that war is the only option and, despite Odin's direct commands to not attack, Thor travels with his greatest fighters to Jötunheim, the land of the Frost Giants. After battling carelessly against the Frost Giants, Odin arrives to protect his fighters. He tries to calm the Frost Giants and returns to Asgard with his sons and fighters. Furious, Odin banishes Thor to Earth where he is hit by a van containing three scientists, Jane (Natalie Portman), Erik (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor's aim is to get back to Asgard, but an evil plot may be brewing against him...

Stop! Hammer time!

A very solidly performed movie. Not a bad piece of acting in there. Admittedly, there's nothing that's exceptional either (though the fandoms of the internet may try to argue that). Chris Hemsworth was wonderfully naive in a sense of the world he was now inhabiting - walking into a pet shop and asking for a horse... or something large enough to ride - and also an extremely likeable character. My only issue, if any, is that his character changes too fast with little development. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, is fantastic (and he may need therapy when he discovers he is not actually Loki). He's wonderfully bad but completely loveable, which I suppose the god of mischief should be. A great performance. Nice to see Natalie Portman in anything as she is always a fantastic actress, and Anthony Hopkins, as well, has still got plenty of game in him. A great performance as Odin, even with the occasional bit of incomprehensible yelling.

This reminds me a lot of this scene...
I'm unsure how this makes me feel.
(See here for why)

The wonder of this movie is the little bits of hinting that encourage even the least nerdy person to have a fan girl fit. Things like the inclusion of Hawkeye. Barely noticeable (if you're not aware who Hawkeye is) but so effective. A fantastic job from Kenneth Branagh and (to a far lesser extent) Joss Whedon for producing such a wonderfully playful and epic movie. If I had to chose one word to describe the film, it would be that: epic. From the visually stunning world of Asgard at the beginning to the large scale fight scenes between Frost Giants and gods, everything was epic and looked epic. the creators of the film knew exactly what they were aiming for and the hit it spot on. It was funny, epic, emotionally absorbing, and good fun to watch. You could loose yourself in it.

A big hand for everyone involved. It's no instant classic but it is the sort of film that can be watched again and again. Not too long, not to short, and constantly captivating.

Best Bit? My favourite moments were when Thor was on Earth and was unsure of everything around him. Smashing a cup of coffee, claiming that no one can stop the mighty son of Odin before being administered an anaesthetic. I kept laughing.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Movies That I Haven’t Seen But Should Have - Part 5: Parody

There are a lot of movies I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never seen. But rather than pretend I’ve seen them or change the subject when they’re mentioned, I’ve decided to share them with you. These films that are cult classics or masterpieces that I have missed or avoided, I am sitting down to review. This is a film that many of you called for me to watch after I admitted to not seeing it. I had no idea what it even was until I looked it up. I saw how much I loved the creators and said, 'right, let's watch this.' I sat down with a friend of mine and watched The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride, if you don't know, starts with a kindly grandfather (Peter Falk) telling his sick grandson (Fred Savage) the story of The Princess Bride. It is the tale of a beautiful woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright), who falls in love with her farmhand, Westley (Cary Elwes). However, he leaves and vanishes. Assuming he is dead, she swears never to love again. Years later she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) even though she doesn't love him. On the night of their wedding she is kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and his assistants, Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and Fezzik (André the Giant), but they are followed by a mysterious man in black who claims to be the Dread Pirate Roberts, the same pirate who it is believed killed Westley. Defeating the kidnappers by over powering them and out-witting them, he saves Buttercup. Soon the Prince and his men are on the trail of the mysterious man in black and Buttercup and underlying motives begin to emerge.

The Dread Pirate Roberts is actually Zoro's cousin.

Comedy performances are rarely better than those in parody movies. There's something about how seriously the mockery is taken that makes it so perfect. Unlike modern parodies - Disaster Movie, Meet The Spartans - no actor on screen makes light of their performance. These are serious characters in a hilarious world. Cary Elwes nails this persona on the head. His witty comebacks and perfect execution of the simplest comedic moments are equalled only by parody legends such as Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges. Mandy Patinkin is also fantastic as Montoya, the revenge fuelled, but overall nice guy, kidnapper who has one goal: Kill the six fingered man who killed his father. His contrasting personalities are so well interwoven that it doesn't jar at all when he goes from ruthless to friendly in seconds. A talented performance, that is. The other stand out performance is from everyone's favourite Oscar host, Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. The definition of a tertiary character but a wonderful parody of the magical characters in a fantasy movie. The only character who annoys me in the film is Buttercup. Robin Wright seems like the grey in a beautifully coloured portrait. She just bores me a bit against all the well developed and exciting characters.

Buttercup never saw her kidnap coming.

As we all know, old school parody writers are some of the most gifted, witty, and hilarious people on the planet. They know how to take anything, general genres or specific stories, and turn it into something incredibly amusing. William Goldman and Rob Reiner, as writer and director respectively, made a fantastic team. Even the smallest characters had a level of depth that most Hollywood blockbusters don't manage. My only criticism, as mentioned before, is the lack of depth or intrigue to Buttercup. Rather than being a parody of a fairytale princess, she simply was a fairytale princess and something about that jarred for me. But apart from that, the post modern comedy was fabulous. Just a solid comedy. Also, there are some fantastically choreographed fight sequences.

Always worth a watch. Even if it is just to stop people complaining that you haven't seen it, it is worth the time. It's only 90 minutes. It's a classic comedy and many people will claim it's one of the best. I will certainly say it's one of the most intelligent and witty, but honestly, I don't think it deserves to be as high as 198 on IMDb's 250, which is where it is.

Best bit? I adored the fencing scene between Westley and Montoya. A fantastic fight scene with great dialogue.