The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Pop sensation Taylor Swift stole the show at the American Music Awards on Sunday night, scooping five AMAs.
Swift won the coveted Artist of the Year award and was also named Favorite Pop/Rock Female, Favorite Country Female and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist. Her album Fearless was also named Favorite Country Music Album.
The singer stayed up late to continue her recent winning streak, collecting the prizes via a satellite link from London, after rehearsing for a forthcoming show there.
Late King of Pop Michael Jackson was the night's other headline-grabber, scooping four awards and setting a new AMA record for most wins.
Jackson was named Favorite Soul/R&B Male and Favorite Pop/Rock Male, and his Number Ones album won the Favorite Pop and Favorite Soul/R&B Album awards -- earning him his 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th AMAs.
The posthumous prizes were collected by his brother Jermaine, wearing a single sequined glove and accompanied on the first occasion by his three sons Jaffar, Jermajesty and Jeremy.
Jay-Z was another of the night's big winners, taking the Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Male and Favorite Rap/Hop Album awards. His wife Beyonce skipped the ceremony, but claimed the Favorite Soul/R&B Female award.
Other winners included Green Day, who were named Favorite Alternative Rock Group, and Rascal Flatts, who collected the Favorite Country Duo/Band award for the fourth straight year.
Keith Urban won Favorite Country Male Artist, and dedicated the award to his wife Nicole Kidman and daughter Sunday, telling the crowd, "To my wife, I love you so much baby girl. This is for you and Sunday."
Elsewhere, the show, screened live from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre, was dominated by pop music's premiere divas.
Janet Jackson opened proceedings with an eight-minute medley of her hits, and Whitney Houston rolled back the years with an emotional performance of "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." The diva was awarded the International Artist Award prize, which she dedicated to her daughter Bobbi Kristina and her record boss Clive Davis.
The audience was also treated to spectacular performances from Lady GaGa, who played a burning piano while wearing a flesh-colored leotard, and Jennifer Lopez, who performed new track "Louboutins" in a makeshift boxing ring -- and accidentally slipped on her backside.
Rihanna also wowed, wearing strips of bandage to spare her blushes as she entered the stage strapped to a spinning wheel -- and the Black Eyed Peas performed a medley of the hits that kept them on the top of the charts for six months in 2009, accompanied by dancers dressed as robots.
There were also performances from Kelly Clarkson, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, Green Day, Shakira, Eminem and 50 Cent, Timbaland, Nelly Furtado and American Idol star Adam Lambert, who wrapped up the night with a bizarre, x-rated display.
The full list of AMA winners is as follows:
Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group - The Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Country duo/band - Rascal Flatts (fourth year in a row)
Favorite Pop/Rock Female - Taylor Swift
Favorite Alternative Rock - Green Day
Favorite Soul/R&B Male - Michael Jackson
Favorite Country Male Artist - Keith Urban
Favorite Soul/R&B Female - Beyonce
Breakthrough Artist Awards - Gloriana (beating Kid Cudi, Lady GaGa, Keri Hilson)
International Award of Excellence - Whitney Houston
Favorite Country Female - Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist - Michael Jackson
Artist of the Year - Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop/Rock Album - Michael Jackson, Number Ones
Favorite Country Music Album - Taylor Swift, Fearless
Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Album – Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3
Favorite Soul/R&B Band, Duo or Group - The Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Soul/R&B Album - Michael Jackson, Number Ones
Favorite Soundtrack - Twilight
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist - Taylor Swift
Favorite Latin Music Artist - Aventura
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist - Mary Mary
(c) 2009 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All global rights reserved. No unauthorized copying or re-distributing permitted.
Michael Jackson has been acquitted of all 10 counts relating to his
child molestation trial.
The pop superstar, 46, walked away from the courthouse in Santa
Barbara, California a free man after four months of daily court visits as
he fought charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch
home and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and
Jackson was arrested on Nov. 20 following a raid on his
Neverland Ranch home and has pleaded innocent throughout the trial.
The King of Pop was given 90 minutes to make his way to the
courthouse from his nearby Neverland Ranch, Santa Barbara home after
it was announced jurors, who have been deliberating since June 3,
had arrived at a verdict. The verdict was delivered via a live audio feed by Santa Barbara County
Court Clerk Lorna Fry just after 2:00 p.m. PST.
Wearing a dark suit, black tie and blue sunglasses, Jackson was joined
by his parents and siblings Jermaine, Janet and LaToya when he
arrived at the courthouse. His entourage were rushed into the court
showing little emotion.
Jackson's mother Katharine burst into tears when the first verdict was announced and the Jackson clan held hands and hugged each other. Jackson dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief as the verdict was read
out, with Fry stating "not guilty" to every charge. The pop superstar waved and blew kisses to fans as he left court with his family and entourage.
The trial officially began on Jan. 31 when Jackson faced
prospective jurors in court. Back then, Superior Court judge Rodney Melville informed the
prospective panelists they might have to serve for about six months.
The trial began proper on Feb. 28 following jury selection, after
two delays--Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau stalled
proceedings in early February to attend his sister's funeral and Jackson
himself held up the trial in mid-February as he spent four days
recovering from influenza.
Jackson sparked controversy in March when he arrived at
court wearing pajamas after he was threatened with an arrest warrant by
Judge Melville when he failed to turn up to court on time. The pop superstar had made an early morning stop at hospital after suffering back pains.
Story continues below…
Over the course of the trial, jurors listened to testimony from Jackson's
accuser, his brother, sister and mother and others who have accused
the singer of child molestation in the past as well as the pop star's ex-
wife Debbie Rowe and celebrities such as Macaulay Culkin, Jay
Leno and George Lopez as defense and prosecuting attorneys
battled in court. Jackson never took the stand.
The singer made his four month-long court visits a family affair--his parents Joe and Katharine were constantly by his side, while brothers Jermaine, Tito and Randy were regular visitors and sisters LaToya and Janet were occasional companions.
The June 13 verdict came as a surprise to many--jurors had expected to
spend the day re-listening to taped testimony from his teenager accuser
and re-reading his court testimony. More than 2,000 journalists from 32 countries around the world covered
the verdict live from outside the courthouse.
Meanwhile, jubilant Jackson fans littered the streets of Santa Maria,
California with confetti as they celebrated the pop star's
acquittal of child molestation charges.
Several hundred fans who had spent months outside of the
courthouse during the trial whooped and waved banners and flags as
they hugged and celebrated with each other in the streets.
Some had ditched jobs and flown from nations as far a field as Japan
and Germany to lend Jackson their support.
But the 46-year-old singer opted not to join the celebrations when he left
the courthouse minutes after the verdict was read out.
A grim-faced Jackson walked out of the courtroom with his family
Members--including mother Katharine, father Joe, brother
Jermaine and sisters LaToya and Janet in tow--and immediately
entered a waiting vehicle, only blowing kisses to his fans.
Articles Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
Jackson family arrives in court Jackson 5 style
In a bizarre show of solidarity, Michael Jackson's family, including his parents, Katherine and Joseph Jackson, and siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine, Randy and Jackie, attended a hearing Monday in Santa Maria, Calif., to watch the singer's lawyers question the prosecutor in his child molestation case. The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" and his family arrived at the courthouse in a chauffeured double-decker bus, all of them dressed head-to-toe in white. According to The Associated Press, Jackson sat for hours staring intensely at prosecutor Thomas Sneddon, who was grilled for more than three hours by the 45-year-old singer's defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. Mesereau attempted to show that Sneddon violated Jackson's attorney-client privilege by searching the office of a private investigator who worked for the singer's previous lawyer, Mark Geragos. If Mesereau is successful, the evidence taken from the private eye's office, including videotapes, computer hard discs and other items, could be thrown out of court because it is protected by attorney-client privilege. After Sneddon finished his testimony, the Jacksons retired to the modified gold and black tour bus to the screams of about 100 fans chanting, "Innocent, innocent." Jackson had not been required to attend the five-day pre-trial hearing and is not expected to return. He has pleaded innocent to charges of child molestation, kidnapping and false imprisonment and is free on $3 million bail.
Oprah selected to serve on jury
Talk show guru Oprah Winfrey, who was picked to serve on a jury at Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago, told reporters she didn't think she'd be selected because she's too opinionated. But Winfrey added that if she was picked, she hopes it wouldn't take longer than a week "because I've got shows to do." Although Winfrey entered the courthouse Monday through an alternate entrance to avoid crowds, officials said she wouldn't receive any special treatment once inside the courtroom. When Judge James B. Linn was asked how Winfrey was selected for a murder trial, he responded, "This was a straight-up jury selection." A Cook County sheriff's office spokeswoman said last week Winfrey was among some 300 prospective jurors scheduled to appear at court Monday.
Lane and Brolin marry in secrecy
Diane Lane and her beau of two years, Josh Brolin--the son of actor James Brolin and stepson of Barbra Streisand--were married in a hush-hush ceremony, the couple's publicist told the AP Tuesday. Spokeswoman Kelly Bush confirmed the wedding but said her clients banned her from saying anything else except, "they're hitched." The 39-year-old star of Unfaithful and Under the Tuscan Sun told AP Radio in August 2002 that Brolin, 36, got down on one knee and proposed on the Fourth of July. "It was early, early, early, early in the morning. Like dawn," Lane said at the time. "I had no idea what was coming."
Zeta-Jones stalker mentally fit to stand trial
A court-appointed psychiatrist said Monday the woman accused of stalking and threatening actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is mentally fit to stand trial. The AP reports Dr. Kal Sharma examined Dawnette Knight in jail, where she is currently being held on $1 million bail. Superior Court Judge John Riley Jr. halted criminal proceedings last month and ordered a mental evaluation of Knight after she overdosed on barbiturates while in county jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Sept. 9. Knight, 33, who was arrested June 3 at her Beverly Hills, Calif., apartment, is charged with one felony count of stalking and 24 felony counts of making criminal threats. If convicted, she could face up to 19 years in state prison.
Blair Witch crewman killed in plane crash
Cinematographer Neal L. Fredericks, best known for his work on The Blair Witch Project, was killed Saturday while shooting the independent film Cross Bones, when the single-engine plane he was in crashed into the water off the Florida Keys coast. He was 35. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fredericks was filming aerial shots for the movie from a single-engine Cessna 206 when the plane's engine sputtered twice at about 500 feet before going down in 50 feet of water, according to Cross Bones writer-director Daniel Zirilli. Zirilli, the pilot, a co-producer and a first camera assistant escaped the wreckage through an open door, but Fredericks, who was strapped into a safety harness beneath camera equipment, was unable to free himself from his seat before the plane was submerged. "It was sunny, no wind; the hurricane had passed 36 hours before," Zirilli said. "It was a glorious day. The pilot called us to go out. As far as we know, it was engine failure."
AFI honors Penn clan
The Penn family, including brothers Sean, Chris, and composer Michael; Michael's wife, singer Aimee Mann; Sean's wife, actress Robin Wright-Penn; along with matriarch Eileen Ryan Penn, will receive the American Film Institute's Platinum Circle Award Oct. 1 in Los Angeles, Variety reports. The luncheon event will also include a tribute to the late patriarch of the family, producer, writer, director and actor Leo Penn. The Platinum Circle Award is presented to a family the AFI considers to have had a significant creative influence on the entertainment industry. Previous winners include the families of Debbie Reynolds, Walter Matthau and Henry Fonda.
Fahrenheit DVD to hit stores soon
Michael Moore's searing and controversial anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is set to release on home video Oct. 5 through Sony's Columbia TriStar home entertainment unit, AP reports. The announcement Monday confirmed Moore's initial intention to have the film out shortly before Election Day, a time frame the director has favored since winning the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The film has grossed $115 million domestically, the first documentary ever to top the $100 million mark.
Rapper Shyne loses phone privileges
Jailed rapper Shyne, a former protégé of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs who has been in jail since 2001 for the 1999 nightclub shooting that involved Combs' then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, had his phone privileges revoked Monday and was barred from conducting in-person interviews as authorities investigate whether the rapper violated prison rules in making about 100 phone calls, AP reports. Shyne, whose real name is Jamal Barrow, signed a $3 million record deal and recorded part of his new album, Godfather Buried Alive, while in prison. He has been in great demand with the media since the album was released last week. Already, MTV has aired a special about him, The New York Times conducted a phone interview, and he's on the cover of the September issue of Vibe wearing his dark-green prison uniform.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: Messing To Miss Grace Finale
Ordered by her doctor to stay off her feet in her last months of pregnancy, Will & Grace star Debra Messing has been written out of the last four episodes of the show, including the one-hour season finale, Reuters reports. Messing's spokeswoman said the eight-month-pregnant actress is doing "great," but was told "to be careful and take it easy, preferably bed rest." She added there were no complications with the pregnancy. The season finale is set to air April 29 and centers on Karen (Megan Mullally) and her outlandish wedding to guest star John Cleese. Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez will also make a guest appearance.
Jackson's Accuser Testifies to Grand Jury
Even though the court hearings are under a media blackout, sources close to the child molestation case against Michael Jackson told The Associated Press that Jackson's 14-year-old accuser testified before the grand jury Tuesday. The hearing also included testimony from Jamie Masada, the comedy club owner who first arranged for Jackson and the boy to meet, according to AP's source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. If prosecutors obtain a grand jury indictment they would not have to present evidence at a preliminary hearing to determine if the case should go to trial.
In Other Jackson Family News…
Could wedding plans be in store for Janet Jackson and beau Jermaine Dupri? The couple spent Monday evening canoodling at a New York nightclub after Jackson's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, AP reports. When asked if the two heard wedding bells, Dupri replied with a grin, "Y'all hear them before I do! That's what everybody is telling me!"
Hung Just Wants To Sing
Now that he's used about 14 of his 15 minutes of fame, American Idol reject William Hung, who brought new meaning to Ricky Martin's song "She Bangs," is determined more than ever to make it as a singer. Hung, who proudly said on TV that he doesn't have any professional musical training, is now very serious about his career and plans to take voice training and dance lessons. "Oh yeah, that's going to change, of course. I want to get better," he told AP Radio. Hung's new album, Inspiration, will be released April 6.
No Date Set for Klein, Holmes
Betrothed Chris Klein and Katie Holmes are having a tough time trying to fit a wedding into their busy schedules. In an interview with AP Radio, Klein believed proposing to Holmes was the natural "next step" in their five-year relationship. "I really believe it's the natural evolution of a relationship," Klein said. "As you grow up in your life, your relationships grow and mature." But the 25-year-old actor, who popped the question in December, said he and Holmes, also 25, haven't set the date yet. "What we do is very different from the normal 'nine-to-five' type of situation. We're actually apart for long stretches of time." Klein has been promoting his new movie, The United States of Leland, and Holmes has been filming the new Batman movie.
Idol, Apprentice Top Nielsens
Reality television reigned with Fox's American Idol and NBC's The Apprentice coming out on top in the ratings, AP reports. CBS won the week overall with an average of 11.5 million viewers, while NBC came in second with 10.9 million, followed by Fox (9.8 million), ABC (8 million), UPN (3.3 million) and the WB (2.7 million). For the week of March 22-28, the top 10 shows included: American Idol (Tuesday), Fox; The Apprentice, NBC; American Idol (Wednesday), Fox; CSI: Miami, CBS; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS; Friends, NBC; Two and a Half Men, CBS; Will & Grace, NBC.
Cheers Ladies Get Pilots
Former Cheers leading ladies Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long are heading back to the tube in separate pilot sitcoms. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alley is in final negotiations to play Ricki Lake's mother in an untitled CBS comedy pilot about a young widow and her mom, who are raising the widow's two sons after the death of her policeman husband, while also running a bar frequented by cops. Long is set to star in an untitled NBC project centering on the relationship between an adult son and his newly divorced father (Tom Conti). Long will play the mother.
Role Call: Eastwood, Swank Have Baby
Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood and actress Hilary Swank are joining forces on Million Dollar Baby. According to the Reporter, the drama, based on two short stories from the collection Rope Burn by F.X. Toole, is a tragic and platonic love story involving a woman in her early 30s who is determined to begin a boxing career and a fighter-turned-trainer. Eastwood will direct, produce as well as star.