Posts tagged ‘Thor’

April 27, 2012

Avengers Assemble (2012 – Cinema)

“How desperate are you, that you would call upon such lost creatures to defend you?”

The thought of making a tag-team film from most of Marvel’s recent superhero film characters sounded like a potentially awful idea, bringing to mind a huge confused, convoluted mess. Luckily the producers of ‘Avengers Assemble’ (aka ‘The Avengers’) called on the help of Screen-writer, Producer, Director and (Crucially) Comic-book writer Joss Whedon, the genius behind ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and his superb 2005 Sc-Fi flick ‘Serenity’ (Based on his cruelly cancelled cult TV show ‘Firefly’).  The fact that he can take this many characters from this many films and weave them together into a coherent film this good is testament to his skills.

Organising this movie must have been a herculean task involving months of negotiations between Producers, Agents and Actors.  Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson all reprise their roles with only Edward Norton being the party pooper by not returning as The Incredible Hulk.  Luckily Mark Ruffalo’s beautifully understated performance as the big angry green guy is outstanding, so Norton isn’t really missed.  Whedon took the clever decision to assume the audience have seen all the other Marvel films so pretty much dispenses with any character introductions and just gets on with the story.  Having to limit the characters on-screen time, Whedon wisely plays to the characters/actors strengths.  So Iron Man has all the snappy dialogue, Thor is just there to look generally god like and powerful, Hulk/Dr Banner provides some mystery and Captain America provides the moral compass.

There are some genuinely powerful scenes in there, the best being when evil god Loki has a crowd of frightened people cowering on their knees and delivers a speech proffering the argument that mankind secretly craves subjugation and the moral simplicity that a dictator like Hitler provides.  Then one elderly Jewish man in the crowd slowly stands up before him and defiantly talks back, facing almost certain death.  Without giving too much away, there is also a beautiful scene at the end when one of the heroes looks like they are gonna die, that had me literally biting my fingernails.  The last quarter of the film comprises what could have been a tediously long epic battle on the streets of New York, something we’ve all seen a hundred times before since 1996’s ‘Independence Day’, que collapsing buildings and yellow taxi-cabs flying everywhere.  But Whedon and his editors and special-effects wizards have crafted one of the all-time great action sequences.  The CGI destruction is jaw dropping while the camera is used in a visceral documentary style, with the characters never feeling lost amongst all the chaos.  Michael Bay take note from Joss Whedon, this sir is how it’s done!

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March 10, 2012

John Carter (2012 – Cinema)

“You are ugly… but you are beautiful”

I was a little dubious from the trailers and mixed reviews of Disney’s new 1/4 Billion Dollar film ‘John Carter’. But the lure of seeing a lavish CGI spectacle such as this in glorious IMAX-3D was too tempting to resist. ‘John Carter’ is based on ‘A Princess Of Mars’, the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars based fantasy novels. Director Andrew Stanton starts by trying to confuse us by jumping around in time and space before things thankfully settle down into the story of our eponymous 19th century hero’s adventures amongst the waring alien factions of Barsoom (aka the planet Mars).

Massive similarities to countless films such as ‘Stargate’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Attack Of The Clones’, ‘Waterworld’, ‘Planet of The Apes’, and even ‘Flash Gordon’ can’t be fully fended off with the quite genuine defence that the book was released almost a century before those movies… because unfortunately this film adaptation wasn’t. Those other celebrated fantasy movies have gutted all the best bits from Burroughs’ mythos for their own ends and there’s no getting round it.

Another more minor issue is that the costume department never manages to quite pull off that essential trick of fantasy cinema… making us believe on an instinctive level that what we are seeing is real. There’s something about the Romanesque armour and the wigs that just doesn’t sit right. But we’re not talking about ‘Thor’ or ‘Alexander’ level disasters though! Having said that, the sheer scale and ambition of the imagery is staggering I had a rollicking good time in this adventurous universe and by the end I was looking forward to the hinted sequel.