Franchise Weekend – Thor (2011) Revisited

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings

 

Plot: The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.


Tagline – Two worlds. One hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Highly Entertaining

 

Story: Thor starts when astrophysicist Jane Foster (Portman) discovering a cosmic event in the New Mexico desert with her team Erik Selvig (Skarsgard) and Darcy (Dennings). We head up to Asgard next as Odin (Hopkins) tells the history of his people, the battle with the frost giants, his two sons Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleston) that will one day replace him as King.

When the Frost Giants try to enter Asgard, Thor decides to lead a team to retaliate, which sees Odin banish him to Earth. Thor must learn his place in the universe, with Jane helping him, while Loki takes his place as King of Asgard even if his past sees him wanting the events of the film to happen.

 

Thoughts on Thor

 

Characters – Thor is the son of Odin, he is soon to become King, but his over confrontational nature sees him disobeying his father’s orders, he is a fearless warrior who is banished to Earth, without his powers. This is a lesson for him to learn about fighting the right wars, not starting them, until he learns this, his powers won’t return to him. Janes Foster is an astrophysicist that has been searching for answers in the cosmos, her research has seen her finding unexplained answers in the universe, she could finally get answers with Thor’s appearance, she is willing risk her career for answers. Loki is the brother of Thor, he has been planning on taking over Asgard instead of his brother, he knows his past and has been waiting for his moment to become King. Odin is the king of Asgard, he has kept the peace for centuries and is running short on patience for his son’s action, he wants to teach Thor a lesson, while needing to tell Loki about his own past.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth is fantastic in the leading role, he has the look and shows the comic timing which has become the staple of his character. Natalie Portman is strong enough even if the character is disappointing, Tim Hiddleston shows us his calm persona behind his character, with Anthony Hopkins doing everything you would imagine he would bring to a father figure.

StoryThe story here follows Thor as he must learn his truth strength when it comes to one day become King of Asgard, this will see him losing his powers and learning to control his desires while his brother is positioning himself for power. Thor is yet another character we knew very little about going in (unless you read the comics), we get to see his past, how the world he is from is created, the dynamics behind the characters involved, even before we get to Earth. On Earth we learn more about the SHIELD and how they are still investigating the bigger picture of unexplained weapons. This does show us just how important waiting for power is more important than being given power, we get to see how another hero is introduced to us for the bigger picture.

Action/Fantasy The action is at the large scale here with the battles being hordes of enemies for Thor at times, we do get the giant battle against the enemy physically bigger and stronger that Thor must learn to defeat as well as the traditional final fight which shows us the sacrifice a king must make. The fantasy world created shows us the world of Gods being real, being one away from our own, while still being connected in folk lore.

SettingsThe vision of Asgard is beautiful, with towering buildings, a place where you would imagine Gods living. The second settings takes us to New Mexico which plans into the fish out of water scenario.

Special EffectsThe effects are the best in the franchise to date, the pure scale of the enemies involved, the worlds created and fight sequences makes this look beautiful to watch even with the CGI heavy usage.


Scene of the Movie –
Bifrost fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts of Loki’s plan seem confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the enjoyable comic book movies you will see, we get the big action sequences, we get some laughs and we see the star of Chris Hemsworth take full advantage of his opportunity.

 

Overall: Great Fun.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Cinderella (2015)

cinderellaDirector: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Chris Weitz (Screenplay)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera

 

Plot: When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming step-sisters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Telling of Classic

 

Story: Cinderella starts as we see Ella getting raised by her parents Mother (Atwell) and Father (Chaplin) who teach her to be honest and good before we see the tragic death of her mother. Years pass on and her father decides to real marry to her new Stepmother (Blanchett) but the now grown up Cinderella (James) has to get used to a new step sisters Drisella (McShera)) and Anastasia (Grainger). When Cinderella’s father dies on a trip she ends up getting placed in the role of housekeeper and all around slave for the family.

When Cinderella meets the handsome Prince (Madden) the two find themselves hiding their true identities as sparks fly between the two. The Prince is about the host a ball where he must pick a bride and he opens the doors to every woman in his kingdom.

Cinderella wants to attend the ball to meet the charming man she met in the woods but her dreams are dashed by her evil stepmother but her Fairy Godmother (Carter) is always looking over her to make the dream happen.

Cinderella is one of the most classic tales there is to tell and this outing keeps the fairy tale in the wonderful world we expect to see. We all know where the story is going and this does give us a couple of extra twits to the story with the Stepmother being more involved with where the story goes. If you just want to see a fantasy romance unfold this is all you need to see from the story.

 

Actor Review

 

Cate Blanchett: Stepmother is the lady Ella’s father marries, she has two daughters that are used to the high lifestyle. When her new husband dies she turns Cinderella into the slave of the house while the three continue to try and live their lives of luxury. Cate is good in this role where she looks like she enjoys the role.stepmother

Lily James: Cinderella grew up as Ella with her caring loving parents but when she is left with her new stepmother she ends up becoming the slave of the household. She only ever wants to see good, be good and be treated fairly, she never wants to look down on any a true pure sole. When she gets to go to the ball she could escape her life locked away by her stepmother. Lily is good in this role really looking the part.ella

Richard Madden: Prince is the charming stranger that Ella meets in the woods one day, they have instant attraction but keep their names a secret. When it becomes time for him to select a wife he opens the doors to any woman hoping to find her once more. Richard fits the character very well giving us a good performance.prince

Helena Bonham Carter: Fairy Godmother has been watching over Cinderella all her life but shows herself to make her dream of going to the ball a reality. Helena does well in her main scene and role of narrator.godmothr

Support Cast: Cinderella has great supporting cast that all give good performance throughout.

Director Review: Kenneth BranaghKenneth does a great job telling the story that every girl loves to hear.

 

Family: Cinderella is one for the whole family to enjoy.

Fantasy: Cinderella brings us into a fantasy idea where magic happens.

Romance: Cinderella brings us into a romantic story of true love.

Settings: Cinderella takes us into the fictional kingdom which all look beautifully created.
Special Effects
: Cinderella uses great effects that all look great in a fictional story.

Suggestion: Cinderella is one to watch with the family. (Family Time)

 

Best Part: Preparing for the ball.

Worst Part: Slightly too long with the final act going on too long.

Funniest Scene: Goose driving.

Favourite Quote: ‘I can’t drive, I’m a goose’.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for One Oscar.

Box Office: $201 Million

Budget: $95 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: Midnight is just the beginning.

 

Overall: Easy to watch fictional fairy tale that is being retold once more

Ratingcard

 

Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay) Agatha Christie (Novel)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Lucy Boynton, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.


Tagline – Everyone is a suspect

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drawn Out Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Murder on the Orient Express starts as we meet the great Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he solves another mystery but is summoned back to England for another mystery, where he catches the Orient Express from Istanbul. On the train we have a host of character, Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), Dr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr), Bouc (Bateman), Marquez (Garcid-Rulfo), Pilar (Cruz), Hector (Gad) Ratchett (Depp), Masterman (Jacobi), Count Andrenyi (Polunin), Countess Andrenyi (Boynton), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Princess Dragomiroff (Dench), Higegarde (Colman) and Gerhard (Dafoe).

Half way through the trip one of the passengers is murdered leading to Poirot needing to get to the bottom of this mystery, that looks unsolvable with every passenger a potential suspect, this could be his greatest case yet.

 

Thoughts on Murder on the Orient Express

 

Characters – Poirot is considered the greatest detective in the world, he solves the unsolvable but has a quirky side to him too, he needs order in his life. He uses his skills to figure out the truth about the suspects in solving the murder. To be honest I found this character annoying, and I like quirky detectives, Monk was one of my favourites but the style he presents himself just didn’t click for me. As for the passengers we have the people from different walks off life which makes them all suspects in their own way but until the end we don’t learn enough about any of them, which is guess is the point as we only learn what Poirot is learning.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh takes the roles as Poirot and for me he doesn’t deliver, he isn’t quirky enough to be quirky but is proper enough to feel proper, he just seems plainly odd. Much like with the characters it is hard to say anything bad about the cast which is an all-star cast, nobody stands out and nobody seems out of place, they are just fine.

StoryThe story is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, well it might be and I am sure when you read it, you will be left on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. The problem is that is doesn’t work on screen because we are trying to over play the eccentric sides of these characters in a mystery that when you stop and think about it and how it is shot doesn’t add up by the end. I am not saying the novel is bad, just how this movie tells the story.

Crime/MysteryThe mystery is who murdered someone on a train, this works I like a good mystery but the final outcome while great in its own way, doesn’t work for someone who likes to try and solve the mystery as they go along.

SettingsOnce we get to the train it is all plain sailing for the settings which work for the audience knowing the killer would have nowhere to run.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsHere is a classic case of trying to make a classic novel into a movie and failing, the style the film is shot it doesn’t click, the performances are just average, while the mystery doesn’t add up once you get to the final reveal.

 

Overall: Disappointing adaptation of the classic novel.

Rating

 

 

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating