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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The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Good Will Hunting (1997)


It’s Not Your Fault

Today’s review comes as a combination of a request and a regret.  I wanted to see today’s movie for a while, but never really bothered to get around to it until it was suggested by my Friendboss Josh.  I don’t remember what the hell we were talking about that made him think to request this movie, but I managed to write it down in my phone so that I wouldn’t forget it along with everything else he’s requested of me.  And, with the movie available on Netflix streaming, I was happy to fulfill the request.  Also, I’ve heard Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (who produced the movie) talk about it the few times on their podcast, Smodcast.  Today’s movie is Good Will Hunting, written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Stellan Skarsgard, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, and George Plimpton.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius, but he’s also an asshole.  He’d much rather spend his time drinking and fighting with his friends Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Billy (Cole Hauser), and Morgan (Casey Affleck).  He works as a janitor at MIT and solves a complicated math problem (I think it was “1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0 = ?”) that is put up as a challenge by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard).  Will meets a Harvard student named Skylar (Minnie Driver) shortly before getting arrested for assaulting a guy.  Professor Lambeau gets him out under the condition that Will study mathematics with him and see a therapist.  After scaring off a number of potential therapists, Lambeau calls his old college roommate, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), who is slowly able to get through to Will.

Despite this movie being a drama, I’m happy to report that I actually enjoyed this movie.  I thought the writing was very clever, and the story was very interesting.  And, thankfully, it has a happy ending, so this review won’t have to be a bummer.  I was not aware that reviewing this movie today would cause back to back Massachusetts movies, but that accent always makes me laugh so it wasn’t a problem.  I feel like I was uniquely able to relate to this movie because I too have lived life as a genius but choosing to waste my gifts.  I also chose to react to this by pushing anyone away that tried to get close to me, drinking a lot, and beating the shit out of random people.  Some or all of this may or may not be true.  The dialogue was also very intelligent, or it at least seemed that way.  I couldn’t tell if Will’s speech about History had any actual facts or truth in it, but it sure seemed smart.  A lot of the speeches were very well-written.  I especially liked the speech that Maguire delivers when he’s dissecting Will’s reasons for not trying anything in life.  I feel like all of the writing in the movie was fantastic.  The movie looked pretty good as well except for one glaring problem I had: the slow motion fight scene.  It looked super goofy.  They could’ve just had a couple of guys rolling around and punching each other in the face.  Instead, they decided to make parts of it slow motion, but the slow motion seemed more like guys acting like they were fighting in slow motion than film of guys fighting that was slowed down.  Close ups of people’s faces getting punched in slo-mo only works if it looks like it hurt and not as if a guy didn’t like the smell of some other guy’s knuckles.  It was a really goofy scene that shouldn’t have been, located in the middle of an otherwise great movie.

Almost every performance in this movie was fantastic.  Matt Damon knocked this shit right the hell out of the park.  It was wicked awesome.  I think the man deserves wicked praise just for being able to deliver some of the speeches he does in this movie, let alone the very real performance and a great couple of emotional breakdowns near the end.  He was a dick for the bulk of the movie, but still managed to keep real and likeable somehow.  His fantastic performance may have been overshadowed by Robin Williams though.  That guy was great.  He also had a couple of big speeches to deliver, and most of his were super emotional ones, especially when he would talk about his wife.  Stellan Skarsgard also put on a pretty great performance.  I wasn’t particularly impressed with either Minnie Driver or Ben Affleck until they had their required emotional speeches near the end of the movie.  That elevated my opinion of their performances to “pretty good”.

I was happy to finally watch Good Will Hunting, and even happier to find that it was really good.  I found the story to be very charming, the dialogue incredibly smart, and the performances mostly fantastic.  I’m only 15 years late, and if you are too then I recommend you fix that problem like I did.  You too can have your Friendboss recommend it to you on your review blog.  But if you plagiarize me I will fucking kill you.  Good Will Hunting gets “My boy’s wicked smaht” out of “Nail them while they’re vulnerable.  That’s my motto.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)


Rape, Torture, Fire, Animals, Religion.  Am I Missing Anything?

I had done everything I could to avoid watching today’s movie.  It’s the first part in what will inevitably be a trilogy of movies based on a Swedish trilogy of movies that was itself based on a trilogy of Swedish novels.  The reason I never saw the original movies is because I generally hate reading movies.  You make me pay attention with quality movie, not because I have to pay attention to read what’s going on.  I never read the books because they were books, and I don’t do that.  And when they released the American version of the film, I still never wanted to watch it.  Firstly, everyone is going to say that the American version is not as good as the Swedish version.  And others may even say that the Swedish version was not as good as the books.  On top of that, all I knew about this movie was that someone gets raped in it a couple of times.  That is literally everything I knew about it, so much so that I actually referred to this as “That Rape movie”, because that was shorter than the actual title, and why would I want to watch a movie about rape when it’s not “socially acceptable” for me to touch myself while watching … except in Japan.  My roommate even asked me if I wanted to watch this with him, but I turned it down.  Finally, I saw it in a RedBox and decided to just do it already.  Someone would request it eventually anyways.  So let’s dive into my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (aka “The Rape movie”), based on a novel by Stieg Larsson, written for the screen by Steven Zaillian, directed by David Fincher, and starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Donald Sumpter, Robin Wright, and Goran Visnijc.

Journalist and co-owner of a Swedish magazine called “Millennium”, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), has gotten himself on the wrong side of a libel case brought against him by a corrupt businessman named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.  Even though his credibility has been damaged, he has been requested for an investigation by an entrepreneur named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), but only after an extensive background check by computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).  Vanger asks Mikael to investigate the disappearance of his grandniece, Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago.  Even though he suspects that she’s dead, he wants to know what happened.  As Mikael is dealing with that situation, Lisbeth has a bit of a situation of her own.  She is under state appointed legal guardianship because of some troubles in her past and her new lawyer, Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), is being a total dick … and putting his in her mouth.  He makes her work for her money right up until she films him raping her and regains control of her life by blackmailing him.  Mikael investigates Harriet’s disappearance by himself at first, but eventually requires the services of another investigator, and so his path crosses with Lisbeth’s.

I was totally disappointed.  This movie was not about rape at all!  Why is that the only thing I had heard about this movie?  It’s actually a mystery and suspense movie with two quasi-rapes and a lot of rape talk.  I guess I’ll have to start referring to this movie by it’s actual title now.  All that aside, this was a pretty good movie.  Is the Swedish one better?  I don’t know, but that’s the rumor.  But I’m not talking about that, am I?  The story of this movie was pretty good, but I felt like it got off to a slow start.  Technically speaking, you could have easily dropped out all of the Lisbeth stuff before she meets Mikael.  He’s really the main character of this movie, and all of her stuff before that point didn’t really serve the story at all, which means this movie could’ve been completely rape free and been just as potent.  Looking around on Wikipedia, it turns out that Larsson included that stuff because he witnessed a gang rape when he was 15 and it’s haunted him ever since.  I’m sure women would be into it because Lisbeth has a pretty hardcore retaliation for her rape and that’s very empowering for women.  Not having a vagina myself, I just realized that it was unnecessary to the story.  If Lisbeth just walked in and got hired by Mikael, nothing would have changed.  The mystery that they solve together was pretty great, and I really had no clue what the outcome would be until the very moment they revealed it in the movie.  I also had a bit of trouble following some of the reveals in the end because I lost track of the names of all the characters.  I probably could’ve been paying better attention, but there were also so many suspects that, when they were coming up with the potential killer’s name, I was trying to figure out which one of the people they were talking about.  But it’s still a very good mystery, and I appreciated it for that.  After the mystery is taken care of and the story is wrapped up, I felt like the story kept going to no great effect, but it wasn’t that much time wasted.  The look of the movie bothered me a bit, but mainly just because everything was just a shade above black and white for almost the first half of the movie, and that didn’t make it very visually interesting to me.  Except for the opening titles.  They were pretty cool and definitely visually interesting.  There was also a car chase and crash that was pretty spectacular in the movie.  I’m not that big of a fan of Trent Reznor.  Never was a Nine Inch Nails fan and most of his “music” in this movie just sounded like there was constantly a plane flying overhead, but it did set the mood, so I guess it did what it was aiming at.

I can’t think of any real criticisms about the performances in this movie, but I do have a couple of fake criticisms.  This was one of the first times I had seen Daniel Craig play someone that wasn’t James Bond, and it was a much more grounded and real performance.  I felt bad for him for the bulk of the movie because almost anyone that interacted with him opened with a verbal kick to the nuts by bringing up his legal troubles.  I did laugh when Lisbeth was stitching up a cut on his head because the cut seemed so minor.  As a guy, there’s not a whole lot I can say about Rooney Mara’s character that’s non-sexual.  Finding her attractive in this movie was difficult for me.  I usually like the goth look, but her hair and almost invisible eyebrows were a little off-putting to me.  Her body was not, though, and she was not shy about letting that thing breathe.  I did think the sex between her and Daniel Craig just came out of nowhere and could’ve used a little explanation, but I’m not complaining because I enjoy her boobs.  Most of the time she just played it emotionally dead, but performed her part of the rape disturbingly realistically, and that made her retaliation that much more satisfying.

I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo much more than I thought I would, but it was not without it’s problems.  The story doesn’t pick up for me me until Lisbeth and Mikael start working together because I felt like Lisbeth’s part of the movie before that was unnecessary.  It wasn’t that visually interesting to me, but the story kept me paying attention for the second half of the movie, and I never saw the end coming.  I can recommend this movie for a watch but, from what I’ve heard, that’s just because I haven’t seen the Swedish ones.  I still liked this movie though.  And so, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets “You do something for me, I do something for you” out of “May I kill him?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Hunt for Red October (1990)


My Morse is so Rusty, I Could Be Sending Him Dimension on Playmate of the Month

Leave it to my friend Forty to actually request my review of a good movie.  One of the first, to my recollection.  In all honesty, I don’t really mind watching bad movies most of the time because I tend to find them amusing.  But, every once and a while, I should probably be asked to watch a good one so I don’t kill myself or simply die from From Justin to Kelly-related aneurisms.  Forty’s movie request was for a classic movie that – as with many classically awesome movies – had eluded me thus far, but it is a movie I wanted to see at some point.  And now I have.  I’m talking about The Hunt for Red October, based on a Tom Clancy novel, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Sam Neill, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Stellan Skarsgard, Tim Curry, Joss Ackland, Courtney B. Vance, Jeffrey Jones, and Fred Dalton Thompson.

Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) brings some pictures of a new fancy submarine to CIA operative Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin).  With the help of submarine expert Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones), they figure out that this picture is of a spankin’ new Typhoon-class submarine with a propulsion system called a “Caterpillar Drive” that makes sonar detection extremely difficult, allowing it the potential to get all up in America’s Kool-Aid without even knowing the flavor, and even boil that Kool-Aid with nuclear warheads.  This submarine is called the Red October.  At first, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wet themselves, but then Jack Ryan poses the possibility that the prestigious commander of the Red October, Marko Alexandrovich Ramius (Sean Connery), may want to defect.  The Joint Chiefs give Ryan 3 days to confirm Ramius’ intentions.  The Russians are after him to destroy him before the American’s get their new sub, the Americans are after him to stop him from possibly launching nukes at them, and Ryan’s after him to find out what he’s up to.  Thus begins the hunt for the Red October.

I feel like I’m one of the last people around to reach this conclusion but, here it goes: fuck this movie.  Just kidding, Forty!  This movie rules!  I haven’t always seen eye to eye with this Tom Clancy feller.  Some of his games got way more popular than I felt they warranted, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about some of his other movies, though I don’t know that I’ve seen any of them.  I had worried that, as is the case in some of his video games, I would think they were overrated.  But nay!  This is a good movie.  His story works really well, especially with how well-executed it is.  Most of the story of this movie is just about Ramius’ intentions, stretched into a little over 2 hours.  It’s not until around the last 20 minutes of the movie when you are actually sure of what his actual intentions are.  There are times when you’re sure he’s going to defect, other times when you know he wants to hijack the Red October and blow up America to start a war, and other parts where you have no idea.  And, seeing as the movie takes one idea and stretches it over 2 hours, you’d think it’d get really boring.  I don’t recall being bored at all in this movie.  From the start of the movie the tension builds as different groups get closer and closer to the Red October until the end where it just climaxes all over the audiences faces.  …EWWWWWWW!

There is quite the cast to this movie, as you may have gathered from the long list in the opening paragraph.  Alec Baldwin, still young and handsome, tore it up in this movie.  I never really believed Sean Connery’s accent was Russian, but he was a badass.  One of our first scenes with the guy shows him killing a fellow officer with extreme prejudice and the corner of a table.  He also had one of the best lines in the movie, involving how things react to bullets.  He had a smaller part in this, but I found myself watching Sam Neill more than anyone else in the movie for some reason.  He was a strong character that opened up to Ramius with some kind of sweet and innocent intentions about his new life in America if their defection works out.  I sure hope that works out for him.  I liked Courtney B. Vance as the really good sonar guy; like the action movie version of Harland Williams from Down Periscope.  Joss Ackland was pretty good as well, but I could not see him as anything but DeNomolos from Bill & Ted.  Though I’m usually excited to see him, I was extra excited to see Stellan Skarsgard in a good movie that came out long before I knew he existed, and he was also excellent, if under-used.  The entire cast was great, so I won’t waste more time just saying that.  Take actors name and add “was really good” to the end.

So there you go, Fortissimo.  Good story, great thrills, excellent tension, top notch performances.  This here is the recipe for a good movie.  You’ve probably already seen this movie, so I’m telling you that you should watch it again.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t yell at you because I just saw it myself, but now I’ve seen it so it’s only a matter of time before I’m allowed to yell at you for not watching a really good action-thriller.  The Hunt for Red October gets “Some things in here don’t react well to bullets” out of “And I will have a pickup truck”.

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Deep Blue Sea (1999)


A Mother Fucking Shark Ate Me!

I have heard of this movie many times before, but never decided I should see it.  And that just proves that I have made smart decisions in life.  But, unlike watching The Mothman Prophecies, I enjoyed watching this movie, because I loves me some good joke fodder.  And this movie is one of the best examples of joke fodder movies I can think of.  So let’s dive right in (yeah, puns) to the Deep Blue Sea, written by Talley Griffith and directed by Renny Harlin, and it stars Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, mothafuckin Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J, Michael Rapaport, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Stellan Skarsgard.

Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) goes to a meeting to defend her controversial Alzheimer’s treatment to some white guy and Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson).  Her empassioned speech makes them give her another chance, but Franklin decides to go with her back to her underwater facility, Aquatica, to check on her progress.  Upon their arrival, he meets the “shark wrangler”, Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), and we find out that their Alzheimer’s tests are being conducted on sharks.  They pull one of the sharks up to test if it’s brain fluids and see if their testing is working, and that’s when shit goes down.  First, that mother fucker bites the arm off of Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard).  McAlester sets the shark free as Blake is about to shoot it and they get Whitlock up to the surface to be taken to safety by helicopter.  Nuh uh, Skarsgard.  You got on God’s bad side today!  The gear sticks on the thing that’s lifting him and he plummets into the water while tied to a gurney, so he’s surely drowning.  The crew descends back into the facility for the Real World confessional, where McAlester admits that the testing has made the sharks smarter, but I think they need a little proof.  And that’s when they see it: Whitlock, still strapped to the gurney, is being kept alive by the respirator they paramedics put him on.  How lucky for him!  Oh wait … nope.  He’s in the mouth of one of the sharks.  And he’s swimming with Whitlock face first towards the glass.  The team escapes the room and start making their way towards the surface.  Also, there’s a cool called Preacher who has a bird that hangs out with him (because ladies love cool James), and he also has to make his way to the surface and meet up with the team.

It should come as no surprise that this isn’t what I’d call a “good” movie.  What I will call it is a “fun” movie.  Though I’m confident it wasn’t intentional on the writer’s part, I laughed numerous times in this movie.  The premise itself is so absurd that I got a good laugh out of it.  Why do we decide to test things that will make something smarter on creatures we REALLY don’t want to be smarter?  Why not sloths or penguins?  Oh no!  We go with apes and sharks.  At least the Planet of the Apes makes sense because apes are the closest species to man.  Making smarter sharks makes not sense on so many levels.  And these sharks were so ridiculously intelligent too!  That and lucky.  These sharks go to places no other shark would try because every corridor in the movie had just enough water for them to make their ways comfortably through the halls, but also enough that the humans would feel comfortable walking into the hallways.  When one shark had LL Cool J trapped in a stove, it’s random thrashing actually turned on the stove.  Yeah, ’cause THAT’s likely!  Just about as likely that his Zippo would still ignite after soaking in his pocket underwater for so long.  And ::SPOILER:: it turns out the sharks planned the whole thing to gain their freedom.  Are you shitting me?!  You planned to smash Stellan Skarsgard’s face into a glass window to force the crew to release a certain series of doors that would flood and collapse a certain side of the facility and allow you to jump the fence?  Hans Gruber’s plan’s weren’t as well thought out!  It’s also never really explained why God hates the shit right out of Stellan Skarsgard.  I half thought about checking the earlier parts of the movie again to see if there was some point where Skarsgard was pissing on the grave of an Indian or setting crosses on fire.  I did find it interesting that the movie went for a surprise at the end.  ::SPOILER:: LL Cool J and Thomas Jane are the only survivors of the movie.  I was pretty shocked when Saffron Burrows got killed because she was a quasi-love interest and they never kill the girl.  If you have two girls, you kill one, but the other lives, right?  Not Deep Blue Sea.  The problem with that is: I don’t want surprise sadness out of my big dumb action movie!  Big dumb action movies are allowed to give the audience the obvious ending.

The performances were all pretty flimsy.  Thomas Jane plays a pretty obvious hero type, but does it well enough, even though I’m pretty sure the explosion that kills the final shark would’ve created shock waves that would’ve killed him too.  I think Mythbusters taught me that.  Saffron Burrows plays a pretty obvious scientist-who’s-obsessed-with-her-work type.  At least there was a part that made a pretty flimsy excuse to get her into her underwear, where she had to use her scuba suit to stand on in order to ground herself as she electrocuted a shark.  But she’s really skinny and not that appealing, so that didn’t do much.  Plus, it was kind of out of no where and not really necessary to the movie, especially since the shoes she was wearing appeared to be rubber.  Also, at the end, to draw the shark closer to Thomas Jane so he could kill it, she cuts her hand and jumps into the water.  They smell blood; everyone knows that!  JUST PUT YOUR HAND IN!  I guess you got what was coming to you.  Samuel L. Jackson is usually a pleasure to watch in any role, but he was strangely awkward with everyone in this movie.  I was caught way off guard when he died, though.  THEY ATE HIM!  A MOTHERFUCKING SHARK ATE HIM!  LL Cool J can act; I’ve seen him do it before.  So, if you watch this movie before you see him do something better, keep that in mind.  He won’t convince you here.  Plus, he’s really annoying with all his quasi-religious mumbo jumbo he keeps spouting.  I’ve got nothing against religion, but he would say contradictory things along the lines of “Dear Jesus, help me to survive this situation … and KILL THE SHIT OUT OF THAT MOTHERFUCKIN SHARK!”  You shouldn’t say these things to Jesus.  Michael Rapaport’s character made me think he was the love child of Ben Affleck and Justin Bartha’s characters from Gigli.  Kind of Italian, kind of retarded.  Jacqueline McKenzie was the character you need in any of these kind of movies of the one that starts going crazy and losing their shit.  But her death made me laugh the most because she, of course, gets killed by a shark.  But when she rises out of the water in the shark’s mouth, she’s sitting on it in a way where she had a leg on either side of it’s mouth and her crotch inside it’s mouth, which made me think dirty things.  Stellan Skarsgard was, by far, the greatest actor in this movie and, quite possibly, in the world.  Actually, I think he’s a great actor and all, but I felt like I need to amp up the props because this movie crapped in his mouth.  Save for (arguably) Samuel L. Jackson, Skarsgard has blown everyone in this movie out of the water since this movie with his appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, and soon to be the Avengers.  Also, I just wanted to mention that I also thought it was funny that, in the first five minutes of the movie – when some kids are partying on a boat and are later attacked by one of the sharks – one of them proclaims “We’re havin’ a party, man!”  I’ve been to a few parties in my day and never once has someone felt the need to declare that fact for the rest of our edification.

This is not a good movie by a long shot, but it is a perfect joke fodder type of movie.  It’s completely ridiculous, but fun to watch.  Most of the performances are mediocre, but they’re elevated by the greatness of Stellan Skarsgard.  It’s pretty to look at, but even prettier to laugh at.  I will actually say that you SHOULD watch this movie if you have Netflix streaming.  It won’t cost you anything you’re not already paying and you can’t help but laugh at this thing.  I’ll give Deep Blue Sea “What you’ve done is taken God’s oldest killing machine and given it will and desire” out of “There’s doctor Jim Whitlock, the most brilliant man ever!”

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Thor (2011)


In all my comic book nerdiness I only ever became briefly acquainted with Thor when the character ventured into the realm of the Marvel comic books I did read.  Being that he mainly stuck to his own comic series and to the Avengers, I didn’t see much of him.  I knew only his basic history so when they released the movie version of Thor it was a good opportunity for me to get a crash course on the character without all that tedious reading.  Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings.

Way back in the day, king of the Norse gods of Asgard Odin (Anthony Hopkins) laid an epic beating on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and took their special refrigerator box, the Casket of Ancient Winters.  Much later a few Frost Giants find their way into Asgard somehow to try to steal their box back, just to get annihilated by the Destroyer armor that guarded it.  Well Odin’s son, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets all mad and decides to take his buddies; Sif (the chick), Volstagg (the Gimli-lookin’ dude), Fandral (the Robin Hood-lookin’ dude), and Hogun (the Asian); along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into Jotunheim to whoop up on the Frost Giants to put them back in their place, against Odin’s wishes.  Well they succeed in whooping up on some major ass over there but Volstagg gets frostbite on his arm and Fandral takes an ice spike through the chest (but lives) in the process.  Odin rescues them and this breaks the truce between Asgard and Jotunheim.  Odin and Thor get to arguing and Thor gets banished to Midgard (or as we like to call it, Earth) and Odin whispers sweet nothings into the ear of Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir, so that it won’t be able to be lifted by anyone unworthy of it’s power, Excalibur style.  Thor lands in New Mexico and is promptly hit by the car of 2 scientists, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, who obviously doesn’t want to hang out on the Dutchman anymore with his son, William), and their assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings).  While they check to make sure he’s okay, he gets up and starts yelling at the sky to let him back into Asgard, so Darcy hits him with a taser.  After he gets friendly with the scientists – and starts towards getting even more friendly with Natalie – he goes to where Mjolnir landed and whoops up on the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that are now studying it, but finds that he’s not worthy of it’s power yet, and then he’s captured.  I don’t know why he couldn’t have just gone to Home Depot and got a claw hammer instead.  But noooooooooooo, it just has to be Mjolnir.  Back on Asgard, Odin reveals to Loki that Loki was actually a baby Frost Giant that he took and raised as his own to hopefully create a peace between the realms, then he gets all narcoleptic and falls into the Odinsleep (which he does to recharge after a long days work).  Loki is then in charge and gets all corrupt and crazy.  Later Thor has to make everything better.

I kind of dug this movie.  I see most comic book movies as breaking into 3 categories: ones that are all around amazing and story-driven (Watchmen), ones that are big dumb action movies but are cool (the second Hulk movie), and ones that are awful (Ghost Rider).  This movie is between story-driven and big dumb action, though much closer to big dumb action.  It has a good story, but I liked it more for the epic battles.  The main story elements are the relationships with Thor, mainly the Thor/Odin, the Thor/Loki, and the Thor/Portman ones.  By the way, if Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman became a couple, I vote for calling them Thortman.  Thor/Odin is a fairly typical father/son dynamic, or more so a king/prince dynamic where the good king wants his spoiled son to grow up to be a good king.  Thor/Loki is a fairly typical brother dynamic where Loki is jealous of Thor and manipulates him into failing so he can overthrow him.  And Thortman is a typical romantic relationship.

The look of the movie is pretty great.  Most of the sets are apparently practical and not CG, so they look good (unlike a mostly CG Green Lantern).  The scale is probably the most epic a comic book movie has ever been, but then contrasted with the least epic real Earth landscape.  It goes from this uber-grandiose Asgard to a very small town in New Mexico.  The full-on double rainbow bridge was also very pretty.  The fights in this movie are pretty good, the best being the whooping laid on the Frost Giants by Thor and his group.  The worst, for me, was the battle with the Destroyer armor.  Thor, still depowered, tries to sacrifice himself to the Destroyer armor in order to save his friends and Jane, and gets killed by the armor for it.  Then, as everyone probably expects, that is the moment Mjolnir decides he’s worthy and it flies over to him and he becomes Thor again.  This part, though entirely predictable, still gave me goosebumps.  But then the battle with the Destroyer armor is pretty quick and anticlimactic.  Block twice, hammer to the face, the end.  The battle with Loki could have drawn out the tension a little better too.

The acting chops of this cast warmed my heart.  I love seeing a comic book movie, that are typically looked down upon by society as “stupid nerd stuff”, get a cast that can elevate the material.  I mean, this movie has Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, for crying out loud.  Anthony Hopkins does a great job, and Chris Hemsworth manages to hold up his end in scenes with the man.  Kat Dennings part is pretty much being in the background and cracking wise, and she performs it well.  Natalie Portman seemed to kind of take it easy on this picture.  She wasn’t bad or anything, but she wasn’t bringing the Black Swan hustle to it either.  Of course, that probably would’ve been out of place anyway.  All that ballet in the background of fight scenes between gods might be goofy.  I think Tom Hiddleston stood out the most for me as Loki.  He really pulled off the hidden agenda of Loki well, and acted his ass off when it called for it.  And I had never seen this guy before, so I’m looking forward to him coming up again.  Renne Russo as Thor’s mom was a little weird to me.  She’s a big Hollywood name, right?  But in this movie she’s usually just standing around in the background and has one, maybe two, lines in the whole thing.

I liked this movie.  Whether that’s just my comic book nerdiness talking or my movie lover, I can’t say.  I still say it’s worth a watch.  I give this movie a “Not as dumb as I thought” out of “DOUBLE RAINBOW, ALL THE WAY”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.