Tagged: Chris Hemsworth

Box Office Democracy: “The Huntsman: Winter’s War”

In my first year of reviewing movies I ranked Snow White and the Huntsman as the ninth worst movie of 2012 and by that time news had come out that neither star Kristen Stewart nor director Rupert Shane would be returning for the sequel, and I predicted that it would probably be a better movie. I was right, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a better movie, and it still isn’t a very good movie.   Freed from trying to retell a more famous story, there are some interesting choices made in the script— but it’s all overwhelmed by the crushing clichés of high fantasy. At its lowest points Huntsman is the slickest Lord of the Rings fan-film you’ve ever seen; at its highest it’s a kind of cute romantic comedy starring Nick Frost.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War wraps around the first movie with a little bit of an origin story and then the kind of sequel where you barely need to bring any of the cast back. The story now revolves around a previously unmentioned northern kingdom ruled by Freya (Emily Blunt) the ice witch sister of the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from the first film. Freya has a plotline so similar to Elsa in Frozen that it feels like the script was written by lawyers, everything feels just distinct enough while still constantly threatening to break in to a chorus of “Let it Go” at any moment. Freya, it conveniently turns out, raised and trained a whole army of Huntsmen (and Huntswomen) and her sociologically fascinating but completely implausible ban on the very concept of love ends up driving away Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and starting him on his journey that leads him to the first movie. We then skip ahead to after and Eric with one of the eight dwarfs from the first movie (Nick Frost) plus a new dwarf (Rob Brydon) end up on a convoluted quest to rescue the evil magic mirror to save the completely absent Snow White and save the world, I guess. Sara (Jessica Chastain) is Eric’s presumed dead wife who saves his life at a miraculous moment, and then just a bunch of fantasy junk happens until they have to wrap it up.

I feel like a crazy person typing all that up. There’s just an insane amount of idea bloat in this film and it struggles to find a focus.

Some of that struggle for focus is the result of not having a clear protagonist. Going strictly by the screenplay writing books it’s Freya, because it is the change in her attitude that allows the climax of the movie to happen, but she’s practically a Bond villain in terms of her scheming for the rest of the film and it’s hard to feel particularly invested in the well-being of someone who keeps a room full of people turned into ice sculptures. In terms of screen time (and billing) it’s Eric, but he doesn’t change his attitude one iota through the film— he’s right about pretty much everything all the time and is super capable and has no need to improve, he’s Aragorn with an axe. It’s probably supposed to be Sara, she has a clear narrative arc and she has the biggest impact on the events of the film but they try so hard to obfuscate her actions and intentions that it’s hard to connect with her. That along with the stilted narrative structure leaves the movie feeling like a series of vignettes and not like a cohesive narrative.

I did genuinely enjoy the love story between Nick Frost’s dwarf and Alexandra Roach’s. It was cute, and it felt clever, and most importantly… it didn’t feel like it was shaken out of the fantasy magic eight ball like every other piece of Winter’s War. It was the only thing that felt genuine or surprising. This was a movie full of twists and every one of them was telegraphed so far in advance and the one that might have been surprising was shown in its entirety in the trailer for the movie. That simple, silly love story was the only thing I liked, the only thing I will remember fondly in this overplotted mess, but it deserves to be recognized. If the next movie just takes those two characters I’d be first in line for more; otherwise, please put this series out of its misery.

Marc Alan Fishman: Nerd Rage Begone

Wonder Woman 49 Neal AdamsMaybe it’s the fact my son Bennett has finally mastered the art of pooping, or that my second son is due in less than three weeks, but I’m getting soft, my friends. To be clear, I still get migraines whenever I pull my attention towards the pending nominations of candidates from both parties. To be clear, I still shake my fist aggressively when Chicago drivers cut me off. To be clear, I still snark at things and get bent out of shape over tons of crazy Internet news. With that being said, a few of my friends on my social media feeds are seemingly raging hardcore over a litany of geek-related issues that just plain baffle me. Actually, strike that. It doesn’t baffle me so much as enrage me. I get the irony of it all, mind you. But I just can’t keep my snark in any longer over their bunched up panties.

And for the record, I don’t deny anyone the right to be snarky, angry, or anything else. I merely find these topics too silly to get an anger-boner over.

Issue 1: The Big Bang Theory

Recently this tweet elicited a resurgence of hatred over the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. If you’d like a detailed recounting of my feelings for the show, you’re welcome to do so. I penned that article in January of 2013. And here I am, basically three years later feeling absolutely no different.

For someone to feel the need to light the torches and mount the armies of nerditry in an effort to chase this windmill really must have nothing better to fret over. To mock the lowest-common-denominator joke mills that are most of the network half hour sitcoms in perpetuity is akin to scoffing at those who eat fast food. No one – and I assure you that includes the entirety of Big Bang‘s staff – actually feels like the show is somehow a Bat-Signal for nerds, geeks, and dweebs to uniformly celebrate as barrier-breaking television. It’s stupefying to believe I have more than a fair share of friends that feel a need to #nerdrage over the comings and goings of that show – in part because a few soccer moms said trivializing comments to their local comic shop owners.

A person who doesn’t know Bruce Wayne from Wayne Brady tells a store clerk he reminds them of  Sheldon Cooper is as bad as that store clerk implying the insulter shops at Lands End and drives a Buick Enclave. Both parties are in the wrong. And if you find yourself seething and foaming at the mouth because Big Bang had the audacity to make boobie joke about Saga? Go buy a tee shirt that says so from Hot Topic and blow that rage out yer’ hipster ass. Next time? Be glad Saga got mentioned to literally tens of millions of people instead of pitching a needless hissy over the sheer gal of it all.

Issue 2: Wonder Woman’s Ass and Leg Lifting Kiss

Wonder Woman #49’s Cover B Variant by Neal Adams depicts Superman and Wonder Woman embracing in a totally PG-13 kiss. Diana’s rear end is facing the camera. I assume this was done because the way the legendary Adams depicts the Amazonian Princess, had the camera angle been reversed, the entirety of the cover would be Superman’s cape, calves, and booties, with Wonder Woman’s feet in between, making a passionate kiss look more like a night at the Cosby residence.

Let me make this clear, in case the snark isn’t coming through. The cover that has caused several pals of mine to shake their fists to the heavens in womanly rage (and this includes dudes too) is a variant cover. Meaning the actual cover than the majority of comic collectors will preciously bag and board after reading cover to cover is not in fact this man-first, woman-hating, soul-destroying piece of dreck. This means that only those who covet artwork by Neal Adams, or are tender completests in the highest regard will actually need to seek the cover out from their local comic retailers to even get it.

To quantify any negative feelings over this drawing is simply a rage too far to me. Yes, Wonder Woman isn’t facing forward on her own cover of her own book. Because Neal Adams chose to draw it this way, and the editors said “cool.” Yes, Diana has her leg up as if to imply she’s not only enjoying the kiss, but she may even feign to a submissive role in Superman’s larger frame. But that’s the prerogative of Neal Adams to choose to make her that much smaller than the Big Blue Boy Scout. For the record, I’ve long held it in my mind that she was likely as tall as he was, but nowhere near as wide. But hey? Guess what? I’m not Neal Adams, and I wasn’t paid to draw the cover. A cover by any account isn’t being force fed to adolescent males with a call out balloon declaring “Superman gets what’s coming to him, baby!”

I could go on. I could hand-pick several other ragers who need to calm down – like those who need to imply that the executives of Hollywood don’t understand our culture. Or the dorkus milorkuses who feel it necessary to pass judgment on a blogger declaring Chris Hemsworth went full geek in the next Ghostbusters movie because he’s wearing a vest and horned-rimmed glasses. The list goes on and on.

Simply put, when our nerdy culture can finally take the time to accept that those not-in-the-know mean us no harm when they simplify our loves… when we can stop over-analyzing every little detail to acknowledge our hobbies are still businesses in the business of making money… when we can stop feeling the need to throw stones through the glass houses that offer us shelter?

Well, that’ll be the day I feel no rage against the nerds who need to rage.

Box Office Democracy: “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

It’s almost impossible for me to be too positive about Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a movie that would have been the movie of my dreams when I was 10 years old, when I was 20 I would have told you there was no chance it would ever happen, even at 25 I would have thought it was far too optimistic. It is as good as superhero movies get and as a life long fan of superheroes I loved it to pieces. I love how the fight sequences feel like playing with a big box of action figures but with a quarter billion dollar budget. I love Joss Whedon’s banter and the performances he gets from his actors each of whom feels perfectly cast. I even love it for the flaws, that it’s a little too packed with winks and teases, that there’s a pervasive refusal to call people by their code names, the dawning realization that I don’t care about Iron Man at all. I’m overjoyed that I’ve been able to see comic book movies get to where they are right now that when the standard bearer for the genre comes back I can only stand back in awe.

James Spader is so unbelievably good as Ultron. I thought Ultron was a mistake as a villain, I just didn’t believe he was interesting enough to pull an entire movie when I never cared for his comics, but Spader is so good I literally couldn’t remember Tom Hiddleston’s name when it was over. Spader turns a character I frequently thought had no personality (and I’ve read very few Ultron stories so it might not be a fair assessment) and turned him in to a character that had a sense of humor, and more importantly a real point of view. There’s a moment early in the film where Ultron accuses Tony Stark of not wanting peace but quiet and after the events of this week in Baltimore that hit particularly hard. While Spader is the glittering jewel of the new cast Elizabeth Olsen is also a treasure, she provides some human emotion to moments that would otherwise feel too large and fantastical to connect with and I’m quite thrilled to have her in the Don Cheadle level of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Mike Gold: Our Pulp Roots

Justice IncOne would think that because the roots of comic book heroes are deeply planted in the forest of pulp heroes, adapting such characters to the four-color medium should be a snap. Despite the superlative efforts of such talents as Garth Ennis, Frank Robbins, Eduardo Barreto, ComicMix’s own Denny O’Neil and a handful of others, this is not the case.

Let us politely say that, overall, pulp heroes have enjoyed a mixed reception. Some good, some bad, some wonderful, some insipid. Sturgeon’s Revelation remains in complete control.

In making the transition, some people resort to measures that put these characters in modern times. Usually, that trick doesn’t work: The Shadow, The Spider et al are creatures of their own times. Sometimes they become something different – in the 1960s Archie Comics turned The Shadow into a routine, and boring, costumed superhero. At least the guy who wrote most of it, Jerry Siegel, knew something about capes.

These days most of the pulp hero resurrections are being handled by Dynamite Comics, and by and large they’re doing a fine job. I didn’t care for their approach to The Spider, but I was surprised that their putting Doc Savage in the modern era while maintaining his past actually works. Their Shadow is mostly terrific; there’s a lot of it so some is better than others.

It’s hard to go wrong with Gail Simone, and she fits Red Sonja like it’s her second skin. Probably has something to do with the red hair. Zorro has been in fine hands, particularly the stories by Matt Wagner and then even more particularly those stories drawn by John K. Snyder III. The idea of team-up up Zorro with Django is nothing short of brilliant, and Quentin Tarantino teamed up with Wagner to provide the story.

Because The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Avenger are all owned and licensed by Advance Publications (better known as Condé Nast, which is one of their divisions), it was inevitable that these three would share their own mini-series. Any fan with an appreciation for history felt his spider-sense a-tingling when Dynamite announced they had all three licenses. The concept is akin to skating on thin ice.

Not to worry. This just-completed mini-series, Justice Inc., was written by Michael Uslan, and Michael knows his stuff.

Now, you might be asking “Geez, Mike, what the hell are you talking about?” In fact, you might have been asking this question for several years now, but I’ll just assume you’re referring to Mr. Uslan’s far greater notoriety as a Hollywood producer who specializes in bringing comic book characters to the screen. You know, like all those Batman movies. And the forthcoming Doc Savage movie, the one IMDB says is starring Chris Hemsworth (maybe) and is to be directed by Shane Black. Yep, that’s the guy.

However, he’s also written quite a few comic books. In fact, I regard him as one of our best writers – I will read any comic book with his name on it, and I just might even pay for it. (I heard the phrase “hey, kid, this ain’t a library” so often I salivate at each utterance). And he’s done some truly innovative stuff: he’s the guy who married Archie Andrews off to both Betty and Veronica – sadly, separately – and now he’s got Betty and Veronica out of Riverdale for a year in Europe. He’s written Batman, THUNDER Agents, The Spirit, The Shadow / Green Hornet crossover “Dark Nights,” the revived Terry and the Pirates newspaper strip, Beowulf, and an issue of DC’s original Shadow run. And other stuff.

Joining Uslan on Justice Inc. is artist Giovanni Timpano, who is quite up for the challenge of drawing such a character-heavy story in period. Covers – well, there are a lot of them by a lot of good people. Dynamite tends to approach variant covers the way a 16-year old boy approaches an orgy. But, yes, Alex Ross has one over ever of the six issues.

Since we’ve got at least three heroes and sometimes their associates, I should note the villains are two of the pulp classics: Doc Savage’s arch enemy John Sunshine and The Shadow’s persistent creep Dr. Rodil Mocquino, a/k/a The Voodoo Master. These are choices that might be obvious to the hard-core, but they are so for a good reason: they are solid villains right out of the best pulp traditions.

Even though Michael and I have yet to work together, he avoids violating one of my great many cardinal rules: he keeps the in-jokes accessible to the knowing without getting in the way of those that don’t know. Indeed, in-jokes abound in Justice Inc, ranging from very cute to quite clever. He takes some extremely minor liberties with the characters: Doc Savage is a bit more sarcastic than in the pulps, The Shadow seems a bit more OCD given the fact that he’s hardly a team player (unless it’s his team), and The Avenger’s origin story is bent slightly to accommodate this being set at the very beginning of his career.

You might ask why I’m plugging this mini-series after its conclusion last week. Outside of the fact that I’m absurd, it is possible that your friendly neighborhood comics store has a run left, and you should always support your local friendly neighborhood comics store. Aside from that, the trade paperback collection comes out in mid-May and is available for advance order from Amazon.

I doubt Uslan is going to give up his day job in order to churn out more great comics. That’s just a guess, but, damn, I can hope.

 

Box Office Democracy: Blackhat

Blackhat has a germ of a good movie buried in it; I was very interested to see how a director like Michael Mann would make a movie where most of the action happens in a virtual world. Hacking is perhaps the least visually interesting thing there is you’re probably doing something very similar to it right now while reading this article. Early in the film there are signs that Mann plans to tackle this dilemma there are sweeping, focused, shots of the inside of computers that switch to shots of code moving through virtual space. Unfortunately, it seems that Blackhat completely lost its collective nerve in this regard as after the first act the movie basically refuses to return to any kind of hacker stuff and just becomes a bad action movie.

The clichés in Blackhat are so brazen that I had to stop and consider that it might be some kind of brilliant subversion of the form, it isn’t. Viola Davis plays an FBI agent who cares more about stopping criminals than following the rules because her husband died on 9/11. Chris Hemsworth talks about being in prison and sounds like a professional wrestler doing a bad interview segment. Characters die but usually only after they have a moment of catharsis with another character. These Are things that have been tired and overdone longer than I’ve been alive and I can’t understand why anyone thinks it can fly anymore.

I always hate being this person but the movie is so spectacularly implausible that it destroys my suspension of disbelief. The movie opens with a nuclear reactor exploding and our heroes are walking around inside of it within a handful of days and perhaps this isn’t common knowledge but nuclear meltdowns make places completely inhabitable for centuries. They follow that up almost immediately by having a hack push the price for soybeans up by 250% and that’s almost equally impossible. There are so many ways to make money if you’re a crazy genius hacker and I wish they had picked one that wasn’t completely impossible. Furthermore, I don’t think you can have a private army roving through and shooting up Hong Kong murdering police whenever you want without having some kind of response from the Chinese government. These are immersion destroyers.

This isn’t directly related to the quality of the movie per se but I spent a lot of time focused on the aesthetics of Chris Hemsworth in Blackhat. He’s so much less bulky than he is when he’s playing Thor and I can’t decide if I think this is his natural size and he bulks up for Marvel films or if this kind of dramatic change in physique is just par for the course if you’re in the Chris Hemsworth position in Hollywood these days. He spends an incredible amount of time wearing button down shirts with the buttons open to the navel which is a look I’ve never seen in real life and can’t imagine a context where it makes sense outside of a beach. It felt like objectifying of Chris Hemsworth in a way that I’m quite surprised to see in a movie seemingly exclusively aimed at men. I don’t know how many women you can get to a rather violent movie advertised as a dry cyber crime film just by having a bunch of strong PG-13 male nudity. It’s another curious choice in a movie that can’t stop making head scratching decisions long enough to string together anything remotely coherent.

Thor: The Dark World Comes to DVD on February 25

Thor The Dark World 3D Combo Box ArtSynopsis:                Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos… but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness.  Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Cast:                     Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s Thor, Marvel’s The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman) as Thor, Natalie Portman (Marvel’s Thor, Black Swan, Star Wars Episodes I-III) as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston (Marvel’s Thor, Marvel’s The Avengers, War Horse) as Loki and Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Silence of the Lambs, Nixon) as Odin.

Director:                Alan Taylor (TV’s Game of Thrones, TV’s The Sopranos, TV’s Mad Men)

Screenplay:           Christopher L. Yost (Revolutionary Road, Snitch)

Christopher Markus (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)

Stephen McFeely (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)

Story by:                 Don Payne

Robert Rodat

Producer:                Kevin Feige, p.g.a. (Marvel’s The Avengers, Marvel’s Iron Man Franchise)

Executive Producers:     Louis D’Esposito (Basic Instinct, Marvel’s Iron Man, Marvel’s The Avengers)

Victoria Alonso (Marvel’s Iron Man, Marvel’s The Avengers, Big Fish)

Craig Kyle (X-Men: Evolution, Ultimate Avengers, Iron Man: Armored Adventures)

 Alan Fine (Marvel’s The Avengers, Marvel’s Iron Man, Marvel’s Thor)

                                        Nigel Gostelow (Batman Begins, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Da Vinci Code)

Stan Lee (Marvel’s Iron Man, Spider-Man, Marvel’s Thor)

Release Date:         February 4, 2014 for Digital 3D (Select Retailers) and Digital HD

February 25, 2014 (Direct Pre-book: TBC; Distributor Pre-book: TBC)

Bonus Features:

(3D Combo Pack, BD, DVD & Select Digital Retailers)

·       Never-Before-Seen Extended and Deleted Scenes

·       Gag Reel

·       Exclusive Look – Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier

o   Get an exclusive first look at the latest installment in the Captain America franchise and its incredible cast of characters, including Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Director Nick Fury, Chris Evans, our hero Steve Roger’s, his new ally Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon played by Anthony Mackie, and a mysterious enemy from the past…the Winter Soldier played by Sebastian Stan.

·       A Brothers’ Journey:  Thor & Loki

o   In this 30 min feturette go behind the scenes with filmmakers and cast as we explore two of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Universe with stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) & Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and journey through the key moments that have defined and endeared these characters to audiences around the world.

·       Scoring Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World with Brian Tyler

o   Go behind the scenes with the filmmakers and acclaimed composer Brian Tyler for a look at the creation of the movie’s stunning original score.

·       Audio Commentary with Director Alan Taylor, Producer Kevin Feige, Actor Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau

·       And More…

Ratings:                            PG-13

Feature Run Time:            1 hrs. 51 min. 53 seconds

Aspect Ratio:                   1.85:1

Audio:                              Dolby Digital Surround Sound

Languages:                     English, French & Spanish

Subtitles:                          English, French & Spanish

Weekend Window Closing Wrap-Up: December 14, 2012

poster

Closing windows on our desktops so you can you open them on yours. Here we go…

 

Anything else? Consider this an open thread.

 

The Tweeks Review “Thor: The Dark World”
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The Tweeks Review “Thor: The Dark World”

Thor_Payoff_1-Sht_v2_lg-300x444Most movie reviewers have been acting like teenage girls over Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in Thor: The Dark World. But only ComicMix gives you real teenage girls to review the movie! (We even got siblings with light and dark long hair, just to keep with the theme of the film.)

Take a look as Tweeks Maddy and Anya review the blockbuster and find out whether Marvel is reaching the audience they’re hoping for, and who the cuter Hemsworth brother is…

New Thor The Dark World Clip Arrives

New Thor The Dark World Clip Arrives

You can tell the next installment in Marvel Phase Two is coming closer because we’re getting better looks at the final product. Here’s a clip, “When do we Start”, just released by Disney.

The movie opens on November 8. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.