Posts Tagged ‘Thor’

The Daft World : It’s a Bit of a Thor Point…

November 9, 2013

An Active3D Movie Review
Movie: Thor: The Dark World
Rating: * (out of 5)

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Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

In fairness, I must put my cards on the table: I have grown weary of this non-ending stream of superhero movies to which we’re being subjected (although the recent ‘Superman: Man of Steel’ wasn’t at all shabby). In addition to this, Thor is my least favoured member of the Marvel Comics Avengers team. Iron Man, on the other hand, is in a different league: Firstly, he’s played by Robert Downey Jr, a versatile and talented thesp. The character of Iron Man is also more grounded in reality – as much as a fantastical creation could be. He’s cynical, witty, and we can relate to him. Or at least I can.

Thor, on the other hand, is just this ruddy great big blond man with a ruddy great big hammer. He doesn’t speak very much (which I suppose is some sort of mercy, as he doesn’t have that much to say for himself) and the mythical world from which he hails, bores me. When I’m watching these Hollywood blockbusters with their Thargs from Argenon and Mists of Wangaboonga, my eyelids start closing. And it’s all made worse by the pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue that’s shoved into the actors’ mouths. The film has some visually exquisite moments, and I remember smiling or having a chuckle about three or four times; hence the single star rating that has rescued this adventure from the dark pit of my Worst Ever movies.

So if you ask me what actually happens in this new addition to the apparently eternal Avengers series, all I can tell you is that there’s some evil plasma-thingy that has the power to destroy the world as we know it, and there’s a pretty girl who normally does artier movies, who digs the dumb blond intergalactic handyman. She also has a younger sister who treats her intern so dismissively that it borders on abuse – so, naturally, he’s head over heels in love with her. And then everybody fights, and it’s very noisy, and IMAX get to show off their amplification systems. Apparently these makers of blockbuster fantasy films entertain the belief that louder is better. So Thor crashes about the planet getting involved in messy conflicts, and speakers in cinemas around the world are challenged not to burst at their seams.

I saw this film in IMAX 3-D, which put me in mind of an alleged quote by that legendary Hollywood mogul, Samuel Goldwyn. When asked about what was then a breakthrough in film technology, CinemaScope, the savvy old master reminded his inquisitor that “a wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad”.

Add thousands of Watts of amplification and 3-D, and the film’s mediocrity is quadrupled.

Treading Water in the Deep End

August 22, 2013

“No, Horsie – I don’t want to hear any more songs from ‘Gypsy’…”


An Active3D Movie Review

Movie: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
Rating: *½ (out of 5)

Ethnic mythology and classical history seems to be enjoying a revival in Hollywood, although the stress is on CGI spectacle above than any kind of adherence to those time-honoured tales. Thor, with his ridiculous silver hammer, is about to resurface – again – in another Marvel movie, and there are discomforting rumblings that a sequel to the overrated 300 is on the table. This Percy Jackson sequel is an uneasy patchwork of Greek mythology, contemporary college flick and teen detective thriller; and it teeters uncertainly between these genres, like a drunk that’s forgotten his name and purpose.

I was furthermore not persuaded by the interaction between the film’s many CGI critters and its real-life protagonists. Picking up on the prevalent buzz, I understand that most everybody in the industry appears to be drawing parallels with the Harry Potter franchise, so let me address that directly. Apart from a scattered, episodic script (crammed with dei ex machina) that doesn’t provide him with any support, the bland Logan Lerman, as Percy, lacks that finely measured mix of vulnerability and heroism that made Daniel Radcliffe so popular in the Harry Potter movies. And, of course, Radcliffe also had a strong ally in those googly, Lennonesque specs of his.

The 3-D depth has been cranked up by the tech team, although it stops short of endlessly shoving swords and snakes up our nostrils (not that I mind a bit of show-off gimmickry once in a while!). Finally – and here’s the movie’s only perk – I’m prepared to bet that 3-D geeks will love the opening and closing credits, which serve up some tasty stereoscopy.

My Kingdom For a Norse…

April 28, 2011

An Active3D Movie Review: THOR 3-D

Rating (out of 5 stars): **

Hammering the message home is Australian soapie star Chris Hemsworth.

It’s very difficult, as a grown-up, to review a movie this silly. But it’s based upon a Marvel Comics character, and I know that I’m supposed to show due respect…

I dunno; Superman and Batman I could somehow swallow, but when characters from ancient Norse religion come into contact with modern-day USA, then I’m left wondering whether the creators (and yes, I know that we’re talking here of the revered Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Leiber) weren’t chewing on the bark of a very exotic tree.

The last time (I think) that a similar cinematic event took place, was when Olivia Newton-John slipped away from the realm of the Greek gods to romance Michael Beck in Xanadu. And that movie, lovely songs and an embarrassed-looking Gene Kelly aside, was really very silly indeed!

But the producers have taken this production very seriously – to the extent that Kenneth Branagh was asked to direct (no doubt, to explore the piece’s Shakespearean dimensions, which are many). The film is also blessed with a very strong cast, from Natalie Portman to Anthony Hopkins, Colm Feore to Stellan Skarsgård – although they pretty much troll through the film in a somnambulistic haze; no doubt thinking about what they’ll do with their pay cheques.

Playing Thor is Oz actor and graduate of the Australian soapie, Neighbours, Chris Hemsworth, a blonde pin-up boy who’ll enjoy his place in the sun until something younger and prettier turns up in a few years’ time. The real revelation of the film is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor’s brother, who has taken the Shakespearean nature of the tale so seriously that he lends the entire production a gravitas and dignity that one might never have expected from such fluff.

The 3-D is particularly impressive when we find ourselves in the computer-generated kingdom of the Norse gods. Many of the US location scenes are shot in hyperstereo (in order to exaggerate the 3-D effect) but this ends up making everything look dwarfy – so that a pickup truck driving through the countryside looks like a dinky car. But that’s what comes of placing your left and right lenses so far apart… The truth is that we can’t discern 3-D after about 20 metres, so landscapes and other far-off scenes don’t “read” in 3-D. My view on that is, if distant scenes don’t appear 3-D in real life, why force them to do so in 3-D movies? And just because a movie is 3-D doesn’t mean that every single moment of screen time has to ‘pop’ or recede! In Disney’s Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, the studio pulls a smart trick by running arbitrary interview and backstage footage in 2-D. That way, when we cut back to the concert, the 3-D carries more ‘wow’.

Considering that I was expecting to be bored out of my mind, the film was surprisingly entertaining, perhaps largely because I had a regular chortle at the campy costumes that looked as if they were copied from action figures – instead of the other way around. And finally, the film’s title made complete sense as, running at almost two hours, it left my backside feeling rather “thor”…


Good intentions, but Disney dips

April 27, 2011

An Active3D Movie Review: MARS NEEDS MOMS 3-D

Rating (out of 5 stars): **

Smart tagline; you gotta hand it to them.

The premise is entertaining enough: a young lad, Milo, who lives with his mum, is bratty and lippy. After a heated exchange with his mother (who has bust him for trying to avoid eating his broccoli by feeding it to the family cat) he expresses the wish – as petulant kids often do – that he didn’t have a mom. Unbeknownst to him, however, planet Mars is on a mission to harvest earth moms with good child-rearing skills. It’s a long story, and I’ll leave the film to bore you with those details, but the long and short of it is that the evil Martians abduct his mother that very night. Milo manages to stow away aboard the aliens’ spacecraft, and an adventure is born. Needless to say, the boy will soon regret his harsh words – and prove his love for his mom.

Although it bears the Disney badge, this tale, based upon the children’s book by Berkeley Breathed, is the product of a Robert Zemeckis outfit, ImageMovers Digital. And therein lies one of its biggest problems. Mr Zemeckis – much as I’ve loved his movies over the years – appears to be irretrievably welded to a technology known as motion capture, in which actors have computer sensors dotted all over their faces and bodies which inform the behaviour of computer-animated characters. He used the technology in A Christmas Carol, the animated 3-D movie which starred Jim Carrey. In that film, most of the characters appeared squint to me. In this film, emotions and expressions still seem trapped within the rigid, computer-animated faces. If you’re going to depend so heavily on the actual actors for facial expressions and body movements, then for goodness’ sake, just use the actors as they are, and place them, if necessary, within a computer-generated environment – as happens in Tron Legacy and Thor.

The sentiments expressed in the film are noble ones, and are quite appropriate to the Disney brand, but I couldn’t get over the bloodless 50-yard stares of these motion-capture avatars. The technology is honestly not worth pursuing. If you’re going to use sensors to (try and) replicate the facial expressions and body language of the characters, then why not cut out the middle man and use the real thing? The whole point of animation, as I understand it, is to stylise and exaggerate, in such as way as reality can’t. Motion capture technology is merely robbing animators of their powers, and I truly believe that Uncle Walt would be mortified to have his name attached to such endeavours.