Franchise Weekend – Thor: The Dark World (2013) Revisited

Director: Alan Taylor

Writer: Christopher L Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, Robert Rodat (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Walter Simonson (Comics)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi

 

Plot: When Dr. Jane Foster gets cursed with a powerful entity known as the Aether, Thor is heralded of the cosmic event known as the Convergence and the genocidal Dark Elves.


Tagline – There was darkness.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Sequel

 

Story: Thor: The Dark World starts as Thor (Hemsworth) must restore the power in Asgard after Loki’s (Hiddleston) actions, this has made him in the position he should be, waiting to take over his father Odin’s (Hopkins) role. Meanwhile on Earth Jane (Portman) is trying to move with her life, but in London she discovers an unusual series of events which ends up taking her to Elf world.

When Jane becomes cursed, Thor takes her to Asgard to find a cure, which gives Malekith (Eccleston) a chance to lead his army back into combat so he can return the universe back to darkness. Thor must turn to Loki t help him defeat Malekith and save the universe.

 

Thoughts on Thor: The Dark World

 

Characters – Thor is once again preparing to take his throne in Asgard, he has restored faith in the nine realms, but he still misses Jane. When she becomes cursed, he returns to Earth to save her, which only brings back an ancient enemy to the Asgardians in the Dark Elves, he must disobey his father once again to end the threat and save the woman he loves. Jane is trying to get on with her life now, her research has taken her to London where she is trying to get over Thor, her investigation sees her cursed and taken to Asgard to learn about Thor’s home world. Loki is locked up for his actions, after his mother is murdered, Thor turns to him for help to get vengeance. Malekith is the leader of the Dark Elves, he has waited for his chance to bring the universe into darkness once again, killing Frigga the mother of Thor.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth continues to make Thor one of the most entertaining character in the universe. Natalie Portman was known to not be interested in being in the film, it does show in her performance which does disappoint. Tom Hiddleston brings another dimension to his character here which is only going to make him a more loved character. Christopher Eccleston does give us a basic villain, one that is only after power and is mostly under make up, making his performance harder to judge.

StoryThe story here follows Thor on his latest adventure, one where he must face an ancient enemy who wants to put the universe into darkness, while finally returning to Jane who has become cursed by the Dark Elves magic. This is another sequel that does address the previous films in the franchise by showing the hints the Thor and Loki could still rebuild their bond even after what Loki has done, we address forbidden relationships between Thor and Jane, have a villain that is obsessed with power, though isn’t the most three-dimensional and see Thor needing to learn more about his responsibilities as a potential king. This is everything you would expect a sequel to be in this universe.

Action/FantasyThe action involved in this film is mostly big CGI chases sequences between spacecrafts, we do get Thor doing the hammer routine which works well enough for the film. the fantasy side of the film continues to build on the idea that the worlds above have been fighting longer than people could imagine with fresh enemies waiting in the shadows.

SettingsThe film uses Asgard, the home world of the Dark Elves and London as the main settings, each has its own action sequences which also shows what Thor is fighting for.

Special EffectsThe effects are not as strong as previous films, but we do get some very impressive scenes none the less, the certain moments of weakness do hold the marks up though,


Scene of the Movie –
London battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain isn’t as interesting as previous ones.

Final ThoughtsThis is still an entertaining sequel, it might not be as strong as some of the previous films, but it entertains throughout.

 

Overall: Fantasy Filled Sequel.

Rating

 

 

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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

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – J – Jane Got a Gun (2015)

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton (Screenplay) Brian Duffield (Story)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook, Rodrigo Santoro

 

Plot: A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.


Tagline –  Strength, justice, power, vengeance

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Boring

 

Story: Jane Got a Gun starts when Jane’s (Portman) husband returns home shot up on deaths door, she nurses him back to health while preparing or the Bishop boys led by John (McGregor) to come and finish off the job, she turns to her ex-lover and soldier Dan Frost (Edgerton) to assist her in the battle.

We watch how the two look back on a life they once had and prepare the ranch for attack with traps as they know they will be facing large numbers when they finally arrive.

 

Thoughts on Jane Got a Gun

 

Characters – Jane is the wife that needs to look into her past to keep her husband and child safe from outlaws that are not afraid to kill anyone that gets in their way. Even though the film is titled after Jane, we don’t learn too much else about her. Dan Frost however is her ex-lover and former soldier, one with stories behind his time in the war, he drinks too much while reluctantly helping Jane defend herself against the outlaws. John Bishop is the leader of the gang, he is conducting the business of taking women one of which was Jane, now he wants to clean up his loose ends which includes Jane and her husband Bill, he is ruthless and demanding of his men and wants to be treated like a true authority over them. Bill Hammond is the husband of Jane’s that returns home shot, he was part of the gang, but left once things got too far.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is fine, though it just doesn’t reach the levels we know from her through the years. Joel Edgerton is solid enough and seemingly just about the best performer in the film. Ewan McGregor did need more screen time for his character which was meant to be psychotic business man in the wild west. The rest of the performers are fine, but no one stands out.

StoryThe story follows a reluctant wife that will do anything to protect her house, husband and future from a gang of outlaws who want him dead, we see the set up, the build up and the flashbacks to how everything ended up where we are now before finally getting to see the showdown. Most of this involves a lot of talking about where the former lovers could have gone after crossing paths. The pace of the story telling is very slow and focusing on the talking for such a large period of time, doesn’t give us the character development needed for any of the three main characters. this is one that could easily be missed because it doesn’t offer anything new to the western genre either.

Action/WesternThe action is left for one final showdown with bullets flying, though placing it in complete darkness makes it hard to see everything going on. The film does have a western feel with the use of setting, weapons and storytelling, though it just doesn’t stand close to the levels of the good ones, let alone the great ones.

SettingsMost of the film is set on he isolated farmhouse Jane lives on, the setting up for the defence of the home, this however slows the film down and when we leave it just becomes worse too because they are generic locations.

Special EffectsThe effects are solid enough with the bullets flying around with the impacts showing the blood splatter.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is so slow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced western that just doesn’t deliver the way it should, it had potential only it doesn’t make Jane a strong enough character with her being the title one.

 

Overall: Slow, pace less and boring.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Leon (1994)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

 

Plot: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Assassin Film

 

Story: Leon starts as we see just how deadly of an assassin Leon (Reno) is, you know the usual easy job to show he can pull tricks to confuse the enemy. Leon lives in a small apartment in New York where he has neighbours with middle child Mathilda (Portman) feeling out of place with her abusive father and sister. When we see how her father has gotten them in trouble with Stansfield (Oldman) he murders the whole family.

Leon reluctantly welcomes Mathilda into his home but they soon make an agreement that Leon will train Mathilda to be a ‘cleaner’ just like him so she get kill Stansfield and the men that killed her family.

 

Thoughts on Leon

 

Characters – Leon is the loner assassin that is brilliant at getting the job done and spends his free time keeping his planet in the sun and watching old movies in the cinema. He has a code, no women or children which is why he takes Mathilda in so he can teach her the ways and help her get revenge on the man who killed her family. Mathilda is the 12-year-old girl that has never fitted in her family and is being abused by her family, she sees her family murdered and her only hope is Leon, she wants to be trained to be like him so she can get revenge. We get a lot of different characteristics from this character that acts a lot older than she should but it makes sense because of her childhood being ripped from her. Stansfield is the cop that killed Mathilda’s family, he is a dirty cop with a love for classical music that doesn’t care who he kills to keep his business alive.

PerformanceJean Reno is fantastic in this role, he plays a character perfectly to make us see his kindness to go against his heartless nature as a killer. Gary Oldman makes for a brilliant villain as we see just how emotionless he can be. Natalie Portman gave us her first performance here and it is one of the best child actor performances you will see which makes you understand why she has had such a long career.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a lone assassin teaming up with a young girl who has become a victim of a dirty cop as their friendship blossoms the revenge becomes personal. This is easily one of the best relationship between two people from different worlds coming together for a common goal without anything needing to get complicated.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the film shows the world of assassins, dirty cops and innocent victims as we are left on edge waiting to see what will be happening to our characters.

SettingsNew York always makes for a wonderful setting as we get to see how the overcrowding can let hitmen get away easily.

Scene of the Movie – Mathilda’s Gift for Stansfield.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing, really.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of all times, it shows how to make a lone assassin movie can be one of the best of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant, masterpiece movie.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Jackie (2016)

jackieDirector: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E Grant

 

Plot: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Look Into Jackie Kennedy’s Life

 

Story: Jackie starts one week after the assassination of President John F Kennedy and Jackie (Portman) wants her husband remembered the way she wants, calling on journalist (Crudup) to write an article on what she will do next.

Jackie recounts the intimate accounts of the aftermath of the assassination as Jackie herself must come to terms with her husband’s murder while the country comes to terms with the death of their President. Jackie wants to make sure her husband gets a funeral a leader of state should receive.

 

Thoughts on Jackie

 

StoryWhen you look at American history there is two shocking assassination we have seen of Presidents and JFK was the first world saw, we have seen how people have speculated, remade the event for years to come but we have never looked at Jackie’s part during the event. This is where the story shines because unlike the nation she is experience the death of her husband who was going to make America a country that was moving onto greatness. Looking at the intimate details of what it was like for Jackie after the event was refreshing and enjoyable to see from start to finish because you fully understand every decision she made.

BiographyLooking into this tragic time for Jackie Kennedy was something we have barely seen before as most of the focus is on JFK’s death. looking at how Jackie has to deal with the tragic events is something this film gets so right we can enjoy she just how powerful she was too.

Characters/PerformanceWe have real people being portrayed once again in this film so it is hard to look past the people’s decision making process through the events. Portman is leaps and bounds above the rest of the cast shining through every single scene she is part of, it is when you look past Portman’s performance you get good performances from the rest of the cast that all do great without being considered to be on Portman’s level.

SettingsEach setting used in the film makes us feel like we are part of the chapter of the life of Jackie Kennedy after her husband assassination. We fully believe this is unfolding on front of us as the story continues.

Final ThoughtsThis is an important look at one of the most shocking moments in American history.

 

Overall: I think this will be a film many people will miss but they will miss out on something very important.

Ratingcard