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.
September 07, 2010 12:19pm EST
Imagine Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger and Jason and that scary dude from Scream and every other horror character from the past 30 years, all on screen together. Sweet, right? Scary, right? Well, if Bruce Campbell gets his way, you won't have to imagine.
Campbell -- current star of USA's Burn Notice and cult-hero from Evil Dead and Army of Darkness -- told the LA Times that the recent action flick The Expendables -- which had nearly every action star from the past 20 years in it -- gave him the idea to do a similar film, except in the horror genre. We had that very idea when Stallone's action melee' was first release and you can read our ideas for a horror-version of The Expendables here. But for a scoop straight from the horses mouth, read on:
"Yeah, The Expendables, or more like the It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World of horror. I want to get so many horror movie stars that people can't possibly not see the movie. I want to give them other stuff to do. I want to have Kane Hodder be very particular about what he eats. I want Robert Englund to be a tough guy, like he knows tae kwon do or something. I want to find out the hidden sides of all these people. Some will play themselves, some will play alternate characters as well. I may approach Kane Hodder to play Frankenstein. He could be Kane Hodder himself fighting himself as Frankenstein. It could be crazy. It's a silly concocted story that we hope to do maybe in a year or so. My breaks between Burn Notice have been getting tighter because they've been adding episodes. They're trying to trap me like a rat in the TV world, and I might just let them. There's a script, it just kind of blows right now, so no one's really seeing it. We gotta work on it. Definitely shoot in Oregon all on a stage. It's like the 300 of horror comedies. We want to make it a whole world. Someone's gotta take Frank down for good."
Although Campbell was clearly highly-caffeinated during this explanation, the idea sounds awesome.
Source: LA Times
September 08, 2003 6:27am EST
Danny Bonaduce and Emmanuel Lewis proved that their 15 minutes of fame is far from over.
The David Spade comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, which boasts cameos from Bonaduce and Lewis as well as Barry Williams, Dustin Diamond, Leif Garrett and Corey Feldman, took in a not-so-stellar $7 million* this weekend--just enough to edge past the lackluster competition to the top of the box office.
Last week's box office topper, Jeepers Creepers 2, lost more than half its opening draw and placed second this week with a humbling $6.7 million, while Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl anchored itself in third place with a swaggering $5.5 million.
The family remake Freaky Friday followed close behind the swashbuckling tale with a far-out $5.1 million, while the '70s-inspired cop actioner S.W.A.T. rounded out the Top Five with an arresting $4.6 million.
The supernatural thriller The Order, whose biggest omen was not screening for the press, debuted in sixth place with a sinful $4.3 million.
This dismal weekend, the Top 12 films grossed an ESTIMATED $50.8 million, down a whopping 37 percent from last weekend, when they grossed $81.6 million. The Top 12 movies were also down 14 percent from this time last year when they took in $59.1 million.
On a brighter note, the comedy American Wedding, which dropped out of the Top Ten this week, became the 20th film released in 2003 to cross the $100 million mark with its $2.1 million take.
THE TOP TEN
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star debuted at the top of the box office this weekend with $7 million at 2,026 theaters. Its $3,455 per theater average was the highest of any film playing wide this weekend.
In the film, Dickie Roberts, a child star grown up into a 35-year-old has-been, decides to rent a family for a month to experience the childhood he never had--and land the part of a lifetime.
Directed by Sam Weisman, it stars David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Alyssa Milano, Doris Roberts, Craig Bierko and Mary McCormack.
MGM's R rated Jeepers Creepers 2, last week's box office topper, came in second with an ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-56%) in its second week in 3,124 theaters (unchanged; $2,150 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $27.4 million.
Directed by Victor Salva, it stars Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Garikayi Mutambirwa and Lena Caldwell.
Buena Vista Pictures' PG-13 rated success story Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl climbed a notch to third in its ninth week with an ESTIMATED $5.5 million (-31%) at 2,203 theaters (-24 theaters; $2,497 per theater). Its cume is approximately $282 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
Buena Vista's PG rated family remake Freaky Friday slipped two spots to take the No. 4 position in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $5.1 million (-45%) in 2,973 theaters (-94 theaters; $1,715 per theater). Its cume is $97.2 million.
Directed by Mark Waters, it stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Chad Michael Murray and Mark Harmon.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated S.W.A.T. dropped one place to No. 4 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $4.6 million (-45%) in 2,600 theaters (-181 theaters; $1,769 per theater). Its cume is approximately $108.8 million.
Directed by Clark Johnson, it stars Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Twentieth Century Fox's R rated supernatural thriller The Order debuted in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $4.3 million in 1,975 theaters with a $2,182 per theater average.
In the movie, a renegade priest investigates an unexplained murder in a secret Order that has existed within the Church for centuries and discovers there is a fate worse than death.
Directed by Brian Helgeland, it stars Heath Ledger, Benno Furmann and Shannyn Sossamon.
Buena Vista's R rated Western Open Range fell two notches to come in seventh in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-50%) in 2,268 theaters (+24 theaters; $1,764 per theater). Its cume is approximately $49.1 million.
Directed by and starring Kevin Costner, it also stars Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Diego Luna and Michael Gambon.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated equestrian drama Seabiscuit dropped two spots to finish in the No. 8 position in its seventh week with ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-44%) in 2,573 theaters (+17 theaters; $1,425 per theater). Its cume is approximately $109.6 million.
Directed by Gary Ross, it stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper.
New Line Cinema's R rated horror flick Freddy vs. Jason also slipped two places to No. 9 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.1 million (-55%) in 2,505 theaters (-424 theaters; $1,267 per theater). Its cume is approximately $78.2 million.
Directed by Ronny Yu, it stars Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger.
Rounding out the Top Ten is MGM's PG-13 rated riches-to-rags tale Uptown Girls, which dropped one spot to 10th in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-42%) in 2,031 theaters (-135; $1,206 per theater). Its cume is approximately $33.5 million.
Directed by Boaz Yakin, it stars Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Donald Faison, Marley Shelton and Heather Locklear.
Last year's top three included: Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated teen thriller Swimfan, which opened with $11.3 million in 2,855 theaters ($3,966 per theater average); the indie sleeper My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which came in second in its 21st week of release with $10.3 million at 1,695 theaters ($6,119 per theater); and Warner Bros.' R rated thriller City by the Sea, which debuted in third place with $8.9 million in 2,575 theaters ($3,470 per theater average).