Thor: The Dark World (2013)

I Only Ask for One Thing in Return; a Good Seat from Which to Watch Asgard Burn!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)I would like to offer you some backstory to why I saw today’s movie, but it simply doesn’t exist.  It’s a sequel to a movie I’ve seen and vaguely liked.  But more importantly than that, it’s a comic book movie.  That is all that is required for me to find interest in seeing it.  And then the movie came out and I watched it.  What do you want from me?  There’s not always an interesting story leading up to these reviews!  Sometimes I just watch movies!  And this one was Thor: The Dark World, written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, directed by Alan Taylor, and starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, and Tadanobu Asano.

Eons ago, the Asgardians defeated the Dark Elves on the battlefield of Vanaheim –where Disneyland will someday be built – before they got the chance to plunge the universe into darkness with a weapon known as the Aether, but their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) manages to escape with his lieutenant Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and some of their men.  In present day, the realms come close to aligning again, bringing the return of Malekith when he senses that the Aether was discovered by Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) when it started to use her body as a host.  Her “boyfriend” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Midgard to take her back to Asgard with him to see if it can be removed.

I didn’t really go into this movie expecting much.  The first Thor movie was okay, but not really anything special.  This one was slightly better.  Not the greatest thing ever and not the worst, but it was an enjoyable enough watch.  The story was your basic “Bad thing’s gonna happen, hero’s gotta stop it” storyline.  And some of the subplots were a little predictable.  If you were the type that kept thinking during the Avengers, “Why did they make Coulson’s part so much bigger?  It’s like they’re trying to get us attached to him for some … Oh …,” then you may think the same thing about a returning character that had one or two lines in the first movie and was suddenly Chatty Cathy.  There’s also a fight near the end of the movie between two characters who – though they are technically enemies – are clearly faking it.  I don’t think anyone watching thought they were actually fighting instead of feigning a fight.  Though the writing can be predictable, there are some well-written funny moments to be had.  The scene where Thor and Loki are walking down and Loki was changing his appearance was pointless, but funny.  I also thought the moment where Loki and Thor are arguing over who’s a better pilot and Thor says, “Out of the two of us, which one can ACTUALLY fly,” was a funny line, but Loki really dropped the ball on that one.  Thor doesn’t fly!  He throws his hammer and gets dragged through the air by it!

Not much to say about the visuals of this movie.  It looks pretty great all the way through.  One thing that stood out to me was the singularity grenades that the enemies used.  Those were pretty awesome, and pretty brutal.

We’ve all probably seen this cast before, either in Avengers or the first Thor movie.  They do that.  But they still do it pretty well.  Chris Hemsworth is all around solid, in both performance and body.  And Natalie Portman is sexy, in both performance and body.  …I don’t think that one makes sense…  Tom Hiddleston is also very good.  I think the stand out performance in this movie for me was Kat Dennings.  She was comic relief in the first movie, but they really gave her a lot of funny to work with in this one, and she made good with it.  She’s one of the few comic relief performances I’ve enjoyed in recent memory.  I was really curious about the Warriors Three, or more specifically the Warriors Two out of Three.  Ray Stevenson came back as Volstagg, but new actors were portraying Fandral and Hogun.  They did fine jobs at it, but what the hell are the other two doing that they can’t be in an epic Marvel movie?  Once Upon a Time?  Worth it!

Thor: The Dark World was a step up from the original Thor.  The story was basic, but entertaining, and even managed a good couple of laughs.  The look was great and the action was solid, and all of the actors did fine jobs, especially Kat Dennings, who was typically hilarious.  This was an enjoyable movie and definitely worth the money to check it out in theaters.  A rental would also work if you would rather wait for it.  Thor: The Dark World gets “Look at you!  Still all muscly and everything!” out of “If we do nothing, they will destroy us.”

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Bullet to the Head (2012)

When I Want Your Opinion, I Will Buy You a Brain.

Bullet to the Head (2012)I had a vague attraction to today’s movie for no reason other than the fact that I like some good cheese on occasion.  That’s really all this movie seemed to be to me.  I was aware of the movie’s arrival to RedBox long before I ever felt the urge to rent it because I would have to be in the mood for some cheesy action.  And then my friend Francisco requested that I review the movie.  Now I had slightly more motivation.  When his name came up on my list, I got myself to a RedBox so that I could finally review Bullet to the Head, based on the French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete by Alexis Nolent, written by Alessandro Camon, directed by Walter Hill, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Sarah Shahi, Christian Slater, and Jon Seda.

Two hitmen – James Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) – kill a corrupt cop and he cokes it up with a prostitute, who Jimmy Bobo leaves alive.  Shortly afterwards, Louis is killed by another hitman named Keegan (Jason Momoa).  Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives and starts investigating the murder and puts together that Blanchard and Jimmy Bobo killed the cop.  Kwon confronts Jimmy Bobo and is later attacked by corrupt cops, owned by Keegan and Jimmy Bobo’s employer Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), but Jimmy Bobo rescues him, taking him to his daughter Lisa’s (Sarah Shahi) tattoo parlor to get treated for his injuries.  Reluctantly, Kwon and Jimmy Bobo team up to reach the bottom of the situation.

I got bored even typing the summary of this thing!  This was a really lackluster movie.  It was basically what I expected it would be, but not nearly as fun and campy as most of the cheese Stallone takes part in.  It was just really bleh.  The story came across as really lazy to me.  It was like playing Diablo, a game that knows that no one cares about the story they just like collecting things in dungeons.  Go from point A to point B, learn something new, continue to point C.  Eventually you have won, and you’ve repaired your relationship with your daughter by the end.  But this game never wins, and you never collect anything from the dungeon.  It’s like there wasn’t a dungeon at all!  Anyway, back to my review of Diablo 3 … wait …  Bullet to the Head!  That’s right!  It’s not very good.  The dialogue was also pretty weak and deflating.  I harken back to the moment when they said, “Let’s go take a bath,” when going to the bathhouse.  Really?  That’s not a thing two dudes typically say to each other outside of the Castro district.  They also use their dialogue to express the characters emotions, probably because the actors weren’t really able to convey it with their performances.  Characters will just proclaim out loud that they’re bummed they didn’t kill Keegan when he had the chance.  I can assume that much, Sly.  And then the dialogue didn’t even get things right, like when they proclaimed that Blanchard’s heart was punctured when he was stabbed.  He was stabbed in the side!  That’s not how anatomy works.  I’ll allow a punctured lung at best!  And since we’re talking about the violence, what can usually sell a movie like this is having some decent action.  This movie didn’t bother with that.  Almost all of the action was as simple as one dude shooting another dude until the final fight with Keegan (which was decent).  That’s not very interesting to me.  Especially since even the most cannon fodder of enemies took an entire clip to take down for some reason.  I guess they decided that, since all they were doing was shooting people, they might as well amp that up by doubling down on the bullets.

No surprise here, but the performances were entirely whelming.  Not over or underwhelming; just whelming.  That’s apparently a word (or at least Microsoft Word doesn’t have a problem with it), so don’t say I never taught you anything.  One thing I didn’t teach you is that Stallone is not the most impressive of actors.  It’s also not the best idea to make someone who is renowned for being hard to understand the narrator of your movie.  He also didn’t seem that interested in participating in the movie, but I couldn’t say that I blamed him for that.  Sung Kang didn’t do anything I was altogether fond of.  He mainly seemed like the whiny partner through most of the movie.  Sarah Shahi impressed me with hotness, but not much else.  I also find myself inexplicably fond of Jason Momoa.  I didn’t like him when I was introduced to him in the Conan piece of crap, but I did like him a lot in Game of Thrones.  So that’s a thing.  Right?

The best I can say about Bullet to the Head is that it’s mediocre.  The story seems lazy and the dialogue is entirely unimpressive, and they don’t even bother to kick that up a notch with some good action until maybe the very end when they had already lost me.  There’s really nothing to this movie that can cause me to recommend you watch it.  It wouldn’t destroy you with its awfulness, but it may bore you to anger.  Bullet to the Head gets “I take out the trash!” out of “Bang.  Down.  Owned.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

The Thing (2011)

So, I’m Gonna Die Because I Floss?

Today’s RedBox movie is another remake, but this time of a movie that I’ve actually seen.  The 1982 film is a classic Sci-Fi Horror movie that I was always pretty fond of.  Today’s movie calls itself a prequel, but the trailers made it look like it was pretty much the same movie.  That wouldn’t really be a bad thing though, as the original was a pretty cool movie.  There was only one way to find out, so I picked it up at the RedBox and started watching the prequel to the movie of the same name, The Thing, written by Ronald D. Moore and Eric Heisserer, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Trond Espen Seim, Kristoffer Hivju, Stig Henrik Hoff, Jorgen Langhelle, Paul Braunstein, and Kim Bubbs.

Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited by Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) to investigate the discovery of a spacecraft found under the ice in Antarctica.  She is shuttled to the base by helicopter pilot Carter (Joel Edgerton), and his copilots Derek (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Griggs (Paul Braunstein) to join Halvorson’s crew.  They find a creature encased in ice and take a tissue sample to find out if it’s Brendan Fraser.  Instead, it’s an alien creature that breaks free of the ice and goes missing, later surfacing and killing their dog.  They set it on fire, but it kills one of the researchers.  An autopsy reveals that the alien was copying the researcher’s cells and trying to imitate him.  The helicopter attempts to take one of the injured researchers away from the facility, but Kate finds some blood and discarded tooth fillings.  Figuring out that the alien has infected one of the people on the helicopter, she tries to flag it down, only to see the alien attack from inside and the helicopter crash miles away.  When she returns to the bathroom, the blood has been cleaned up.  Now the crew must figure out who amongst them is also an alien in disguise and try to stop the creature from reaching the mainland and infecting us all.

Even while watching the movie, I had a hard time figuring out if this was supposed to be a prequel or a remake.  If it was supposed to be a prequel, then history really repeats itself in the original because it starts off very similar.  The alien even decides that the dog should be the first to go, which is just a dick move on it’s part.  By the end of the movie, they tied it together, but only insomuch as they threw in the scene that opens the original movie over the credits of this movie, as if it was an afterthought.  It seemed like they were going to try to remake it, added a little stuff at the end, and then just decided to make it a prequel.  That being the case, this movie is inferior to the original.  Standing on it’s own, it would be a fine movie, but when you compare it to the original classic, it loses.  It’ll make me sound pretty hipster, but the story of this movie was good, but the original was better.  Being basically the same story, the first movie just told it better.  It’s one of the things I’ve noticed about movies from the 80’s in comparison to movies today.  See, back in the 80’s, technology and economy made it so these horror movies were unable to show their creature that much, either because it didn’t look that good or they just couldn’t afford it.  When I think back to the original Thing movie – as well as Jaws and Alien – what benefited them was their inability to show the creature.  The Thing showed their creature much more than the other two, but also didn’t have their creature running down the hall in broad daylight.  It made it much more psychologically intense for the audience.  In the original movie, we didn’t know any better than the people in the movie who was infected, but in this movie they don’t have to rely on that very much and they just have the guy say “No I’m not” and then have his face split in half.  The creature looks really good in this movie (in it’s various incarnations), but it’s not scary unless you consider gruesome scary.  What the original (as well as Jaws and Alien) did so much better was focusing on the characters and the atmosphere and having the creature affect everyone without actually being seen.  I didn’t care about anybody in this movie, so I could’ve given two shits when they got killed.  The movie’s just taking the basic premise of the original and filling it with gruesome money shots of what the writers always thought the alien could’ve done.  With all the tension and psychology covered up by lots of money and special effects, this movie is just barely better than any average slasher picture.  Much as in the first movie, they try to devise a test to find out who’s infected, but it gets sabotaged.  They then resort to looking into people’s mouths to see if they have fillings (as the creature can’t replicate inorganic material) and then just waiting for one of those guys to kill something so they can burn it (as it dies quickly in fire).  It occurred to me that, though it would be painful, having everyone hold their hand over a candle would’ve been a much more elegant solution to their problem.  If it just hurt, you’re okay.  If you split in half and killed everyone, I raise the possibility of you being infected to 20% sure.  To further ruin the original with money, they even go to the alien spaceship for the finale of the movie, which further takes me out of it.  I can’t relate to being chased down the halls of an alien spaceship.  The last time I was in one, I was strapped to a gurney and … I don’t wanna talk about it.  It just turns the movie into more of a sci-fi movie than a psychological horror.  The alien wasn’t the issue in the original; it was the infection.  It could’ve been just a regular disease in that movie and it wouldn’t have changed anything.  Also, the ending of this movie was kind of easy, quick, and lackluster.

The performances were all quality in this movie.  I can’t say I have any particular praises or criticisms for them.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead was good.  The Wikipedia page claimed that her character was supposed to have many traits in common with Lt. Ellen Ripley from Alien, and I can kind of see that.  She was a stronger character than most women are portrayed in movies as, and probably spent about as much time cowering in fear as any of the men, but she would also get behind the business end of a flamethrower when the moment called for it.  Plus, she was in Scott Pilgrim, so I already liked her.  Eric Christian Olsen, on the other hand, had to win me over.  He was in that awful prequel called Dumb and Dumberer, so I has a bad taste in my mouth for this guy.  But his performance in the movie was very real and I liked him.  I’ll forgive you for Dumb and Dumberer for now, but I’m keeping my eye on you!

I feel like, even though I didn’t really care for this movie, I can actually recommend it to you.  If you’re a fan of the original (as I am) then this movie might let you down by making a dumber version of what we already liked and calling it a prequel, when it was only barely a prequel.  If you’ve never seen the original, then you can go into this movie fresh and will probably enjoy yourself.  It’s a decent enough movie that’s hindered by it’s failure to succeed on it’s 30 year old successor.  And so the remake … I mean prequel … to the Thing gets “We found a fucking alien!” out of “You think they’re gonna pay a bonus for bringing home an alien instead of core samples?”

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