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.
Everyone who has been cast in Warner Bros. anticipated Superman reboot has more or less been around the block. From parental figures Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent to Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and main antagonist Zod (Michael Shannon), there are plenty of Oscar wins and nominations littered throughout the careers of these performers. To be frank, the most inexperienced actor in the cast (but no less capable) is the Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill (though as a star of Showtime's The Tudors and a veteran of films like The Count of Monte Cristo and Whatever Works, he's not exactly new blood either). That is, until today.
Deadline is reporting that the studio has landed its female villain. Though the character is still unconfirmed (it could be Ursa, Zod's accomplice from the first Superman film and its sequel, or another Kryptonian lady named Faora who serves Zod loyally), it looks like German thesp Antje Traue may have the role in her hand. Not sure who that is? No worries, neither do we. All we can tell you is that she appeared opposite Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid in 2009's sci-fi/horror hybrid Pandorum and will star this year in the Renny Harlin-directed thriller 5 Days in August. Warner Bros. has been questionably silent on this rumor that's spread like wildfire over the interwebs for the last few hours, so I'm not entirely sure of the merit of the scoop. But she does bear a slight resemblance to Sarah Douglas, who played Ursa in the late '70s so I can see where this may be going.
We'll report back with confirmation as soon as we can.
Source: Deadline, Variety
Now that director Zack Snyder has locked in British actor Henry Cavill as the titular "Man of Steel", as well as Diane Lane and Kevin Costner for Ma and Pa Kent in Legendary Pictures' upcoming Superman reboot, all that remains is to find a suitable villain. And according to the little bird that's always talking to Deadline, Boardwalk Empire's Michael Shannon could be a top pick for the role.
With a terrific season of Empire now under his belt, and a number of memorable smaller roles in well-reviewed movies like Revolutionary Road, it's about time that Shannon get some big studio money for all his hard work. Plus, his face is certainly oddly-shaped enough to convey some serious malevolence -- in the right light.
Still, while rumors point to the possibility that he could be stepping into the shoes of Kryptonian villain 'General Zod', Shannon is obviously only one of several actors being considered for the undisclosed role. As always, we'll let you know when we hear more.
Brian Austin Green is having a good year! The former Beverly Hills 90210 star and newlywed husband of smoking hot Megan Fox is reportedly near an agreement to have a major recurring role on ABC's primetime soap Desperate Housewives next season. Green appeared briefly this season as steamy contractor Kieth, who is now set to return to Wisteria Lane as a potential love interest for one of the neighborhood's leading ladies (Eva Longoria?).
Green, who is represented by APA, recently had a recurring role on the CW's Smallville, Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and has a number of film projects in the works, including the horror thriller Last Stop with Mena Suvari.
And did we mention he locked down Megan Fox? Nice one, bro.
The Producers actor stars as Gomez Addams alongside Bebe Neuwirth as his Morticia in the new production based on the kooky family, who were first immortalised in Charles Addams' comic strip and then in a TV show and movie series.
The curtain went up on the show in New York City on Thursday night (08Apr10), but critics were unimpressed - The New York Times' Ben Brantley wrote a scathing review, branding the musical "genuinely ghastly".
He writes, "Imagine, if you dare, the agonies of the talented people trapped inside the collapsing tomb called The Addams Family. This genuinely ghastly musical... stars a shamefully squandered Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. Everyone else tries not to look embarrassed, though it's not easy."
Elysa Gardner, of USA Today, adds, "The stabs at crass hilarity also seem ill at ease with the hokey plot," while Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News' calls the show "half-baked", adding: "By the two-and-a half hour mark The Addams Family really wears thin. Hearing the finale, Move Towards The Darkness, it struck me. Move towards the exit was a much better idea."
Jonathan Levine has come on to direct Mandate Pictures' now untitled cancer comedy, which will star James McAvoy and Seth Rogen. Also joining the film is Anna Kendrick, a recent Golden Globe nominee for her turn in Up in the Air.
The project, previously titled I'm With Cancer, was to be directed by Nicole Holofcener, who dropped out in November. Levine's credits include The Wackness and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.
Principal photography starts next month in Vancouver. Mandate International will commence pre-sales in Berlin in February.
Kendrick will play a psychologist assigned to a young man (McAvoy) who learns he has cancer. The character is based on the real experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser.
Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Ben Karlin are producing. Reiser is executive producing along with Mandate president Nathan Kahane. Mandate's Tendo Nagenda is co-producing.
The Scary Movie star wed Ben Indra in 2004 after they met on the set of movie Lovers Lane, but she filed for divorce in April 2007.
The actress admits the marriage break-up hit her hard - and she tried to compensate with a wild, party lifestyle.
She says, "I tend to be a serial monogamist. But the next thing you know, I'm single and living in an apartment full of potato chips, mustard and tons of beer. I wore this grubby Garfield t-shirt and these baggy jeans all the time.
"Personal hygiene? Nah. I would talk to my cat, I was drunk all the time. I would go to bars alone. I would talk to guys and be like, 'Sooo, what's your story? You wanna go out?' If they turned me down, I'd be like, 'So, what's your friend like?' It was a very selfish time in my life but also strangely liberating. I felt weirdly empowered."
Faris later remarried, exchanging vows with actor Chris Pratt earlier this year (Jul09).
MGM is, like, so developing a Valley Girl remake--and this time it’s a musical. In trade reports today, word is that the update will meld the narrative with classic ‘80s tunes in a novel twist on the cult comedy.
The 1983 original starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman as directed by Martha Coolidge. Foreman was a total valley girl who meets cute with Cage’s punk character until they are pulled apart by their conflicting lifestyles. But, there is a happy ending.
That film was written and produced by Wayne Crawford and Andrew Lane, and included a distinctive New Wave soundtrack that included Modern English, Josie Cotton, the Plimsouls and the Psychedelic Furs.
Idealogy's Sean Bailey and Matt Smith are behind the project. Bailey is a Project Greenlight veteran and most recently produced Ben Affleck's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. He also has the Tron sequel, Sabbatical and Liberty in development. Further, he is developing The Unlimited, a pilot for ABC Studios.
The Covenant, a Lost Boys meets The Craft tale about teens trying to destroy each other with supernatural powers, took the top spot at the North American box office this weekend with only $9 million.
By comparison, the debut of The Exorcism of Emily Rose took in more than $30 million in the same weekend a year ago.
"The summer (movie) season ended on a pretty high note, but the fall season is starting off a little slow," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told The Associated Press. "I don't think anyone expected this weekend to set the world on fire in terms of box office."
The Covenant pushed the reigning champ, the football drama Invincible, down to third place with $5.7 million, while Hollywoodland--a film noir examining the 1959 death of TV’s Superman, George Reeves, and starring Ben Affleck, Diane Lane and Adrien Brody—opened in second with $6 million.
Also debuting this weekend was The Protector, a martial arts thriller starring newcomer Tony Jaa, which landed in the fourth spot with $5 million.
Meanwhile, after 10 weeks in theaters, the year's biggest hit, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, jumped the $1 billion mark internationally--the third film to do so behind Titanic and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The top 12 movies grossed $54.3 million this weekend, down 25.97 percent from last year’s draw of $73.4 and down 30.53 percent from last weekend’s total of $78.2 million.
The Top Three films at the box office this time last year were: Screen Gems’ The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which opened No. 1 with $30 million in 2,981 theaters, averaging $10,082 per theater; Universal’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which stayed in second place in its third week of release with $7.7 million in 2,974 theaters, averaging $2,595 per theaters; and 20th Century Fox’s Transporter 2, which dropped to third place in its second week with $7.3 million in 3,320 theaters, averaging $2,226 per theaters (Click here to read last year's box office report).
BOX OFFICE TOP 10, ESTIMATES
(Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: The Covenant (Screen Gems, PG-13)
• Gross: $9 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 2,681
• Per-theater average: $3,357
No. 2: Hollywoodland (Focus Features, R)
• Gross: $6 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 1,548
• Per-theater average: $3,881
No. 3: Invincible (Buena Vista, PG)
• Gross: $5.7 million (-52%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,987 (+66)
• Per-theater average: $1,936
• Cume to date: $45.6 million
No. 4: The Protector (Weinstein Co., R)
• Gross: $5 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 1,541
• Per-theater average: $3,265
No. 5: Crank (Lions Gate, R)
• Gross: $4.8 million (-54%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 2,515 (unchanged)
• Per-theater average: $1,909
• Cume to date: $19.8 million
No. 6: The Illusionist (Yari Film Group, PG-13)
• Gross: $4.6 million (-26%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 1,362 (+391)
• Per-theater average: $3,406
• Cume to date: $18 million
No. 7: Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight, R)
• Gross: $4.4 million (-42%)
• Weeks opened: 7
• Theaters: 1,560 (-42)
• Per-theater average: $2,837
• Cume to date: $41.6 million
No. 8: Wicker Man (Warner Bros., PG-13)
• Gross: $4.1 million (-57%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 2,784 (unchanged)
• Per-theater average: $1,478
• Cume to date: $17.4 million
No. 9: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Sony, PG-13)
• Gross: $3 million (-51%)
• Weeks opened: 6
• Theaters: 2,617 (-384)
• Per-theater average: $1,146
• Cume to date: $142.1 million
No. 10: Barnyard (Paramount, PG)
• Gross: $2.5 million (-47%)
• Weeks opened: 6
• Theaters: 2,506 (-401)
• Per-theater average: $1,032
• Cume to date: $66.8 million
Attempting to delve into one of Tinseltown’s most curious scandals--the mysterious suicide (or was it?) of the original TV Superman actor George Reeves--the story begins after Reeves (Ben Affleck) is found dead of a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound during a late night party in his Benedict Canyon home. The case then unfolds through the eyes of Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) a street-smart publicity hungry private dick hired by Reeves’ grieving mother. As Simo slowly peels back the layers of Reeves’ seemingly glamorous life he discovers an actor of charm talent and sophistication whose every opportunity for a big break fizzled forcing him to lead a frustrated existence slumming in the superhero show he deemed beneath him. Gradually identifying with Reeves’ failed expectations for himself Simo discovers a host of candidates who may have actually pulled the trigger on the actor including his young party girl paramour (Robin Tunney) his longtime lover and patron (Diane Lane) and his lover’s husband a powerfully connected studio “fixer” (Bob Hoskins). It is Brody not Affleck who carries the bulk of the film on his shoulders and the Oscar winner delivers a finely etched turn as Simo who’s fractured potential mirrors Reeves’ but quite simply Simo’s story isn’t nearly as dark or engaging as Reeves’ life or the mystery surrounding his death. Affleck an actor who has had his share of ups downs duds and disappointments in Hollywood delivers one of his most charming and fully realized performances to date even if his spot-on recreation of Reeves’ speech pattern is a bit distracting. The luminous Lane’s acting talents remain in full blossom in a character she’s well-suited to play—the aging beauty fearing the road ahead—and she commands every scene she’s in. Unfortunately there should have been many many more of them. She’s almost criminally underused. Hoskins more menacing then ever and the reliable stable of supporting players like Joe Spano are all top-notch as well; only Tunney apparently trying to channel both Betty Boop and Bette Davis simultaneously seems a bit off her game as the wannabe femme fatale. Best known for his strong turns helming many of the best episodes of television series such as The Sopranos Sex and the City and Six Feet Under first time feature director Allen Coulter’s cool assured hand and meticulous recreation of Cold War Los Angeles are major bonuses here. Even when Simo’s story sags in comparison to Reeves’ Coulter keeps us interested particularly when staging the Rashomon-like sequences depicting the various theories behind Reeves’ demise. But by skimping on Reeves’ story in favor of a less compelling fictional framework built around a private detective investigating the case we never see one key suspect’s possible murder scenario enacted visually and it comes off as a glaring omission.