Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Condor, Elevator Drama and a God of Thunder

So, here are some random films I've seen that I wanted to review...

Personally, I was not excited to see this movie.  I just wasn't.  In Marvel Comics, I'm a huge, huge X-Men fan, and I love The Fantastic Four.  I also enjoy The Avengers (thus, a love for Iron Man) and I dig Spider-man as well... but even though Thor is a member of The Avengers, I wasn't really pumped for this one.  Never been a big fan of Thor and his mythology...

That being said, I did enjoy the puddin' out of this movie.  Taking place on the mythological realm of Asgard, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is protecting the Nine Realms of the Universe, of which Earth is one.  Thor, Odin's son, is set to ascend to the throne when all sorts of things go bad, including an attack of The Frost Giants (a name so stupid its actually kinda cool, no pun intended) and a set-up for failure by Thor's brother Loki.  Anyone who knows the comics at all knows that Loki is bad news, so I know I'm not ruining it for anyone really. 

Thor ends up getting banned, and through a porthole in space (perhaps the best way to travel through dimensions), he ends up in New Mexico, right in the backyard of scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her fellow scientists Darcy (Kat Stevens) and Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard).  Of course, all sorts of comic booky things ensue, and if you don't like X-Men, Spidey or Iron Man, you won't like this one...

However comma

Its a great movie.  Chris Helmsworth is fantastic as Thor, and Tom Hiddleston is perfect as the weaker, yet smarter Loki.  The effects are quite stunning, with the color and splendor of Asgard, the superhero explosions and superpowers you'd expect to find in a super hero movie, and to top it all off, the story is solid too.  Again, I wasn't expecting nearly as much as I got out of the movie. 

Even Natalie Portman was good--yes, we know she's a good actress, yes, we know she won an Oscar for "Black Swan", but in movies that aren't serious, she tends to mail her performance in (see:  prequels, Star Wars), but she actually isn't that bad.  Of course, there is stuff at the end of the credits, so stick around for that...

Something fun too, if you see the very end scene after Iron Man 2's credits, you'll see Thor's hammer, and if you look close, there's a little red truck.  You'll be able to spot that same red truck in a fun little scene near the beginning of the film--and there is even an Avenger cameo (look for the guy trying to take out Thor in the rain).

Bottom line... if you liked Iron Man and the Marvel Comics stories, you'll enjoy this one as well.

M. Night Shimalamala is at it again... this one, from the "mind" of M. Night Shimalamala, though directed by John Dowdle (who also directed the epic Quarantine, sarcasm included for free).   Now, after "The Village", I am a little wary about anything that M. Night Shimalamala comes up with... granted, "Lady in the Water", while no masterpiece, was actually a decent film, I will say "The Happening" should have never happened.  That movie was an atrocity of American cinema, so bad that its star, Mark Wahlberg, denounced it. 

One of the five is The Devil in human form.  Can you
guess who?  If you watch the movie, you kinda figure
it out.
Of course, "The Last Airbender" was also a commercial failure, and I personally have no interest in seeing it... but then, there's "Devil".

The premise is, five people are on an elevator when it stops... they each have a past, they each have sins they either are committing or have committed and haven't atoned for... the movie actually starts out with a narration that tells you that when he (the narrator) was a kid, his mama would tell him the story of The Devil.  The Devil would seek out individuals who have sinned on Earth, and take the form of a human, make his presence known by a death (the suicide at the beginning of the movie), then trap these individuals in a confined space (an elevator), make them turn on each other, and kill them off one at a time.  The last one to die will die in front of a loved one, but in the end, everyone dies. 

Thus begins our story... five people get into an elevator, and it gets stuck.  A detective is brought in due to the suicide, but he gets sucked into the elevator drama when bad things start happening in the elevator car.   And bad things start happening to the people who get sucked into the elevator drama.  Bad times all around, bad times indeed.

The movie itself isn't bad.  Its a tense film, with its suspenseful moment, though half way through I had deduced how it would probably turn out... moviegoers not as smart as I happen to be (wink wink) might not get it until closer to the end, but if you pay attention, you will figure it out long before the final moments.  Of course, the detective has his own backstory, and I just don't feel like I'm spoiling anything if I tell you that that backstory will intertwine at some point with the elevator drama.  It has to. 

Anytime one of the lead characters has something tragic happen to them in their lives, but happened to them before the movie takes place, more often than not that tragedy will directly affect their interaction with someone in that movie... sometimes even across multiple movies (as described in "Kung Fu Panda 2")
That's the way it works.

So, if you enjoy a suspenseful film with bad effects, kind of a hokey plot and a decent cast (I forgot to mention, the cast is actually solid... a bunch of no names and That Guys, but Bokeem Woodbine, Matt Craven and Chris Messina lead a great group), and a willingness to forget that according to The Word, this ain't how The Devil operates, then you might enjoy it. 

Just close your eyes when the words "PRODUCED BY M. NIGHT SHAMALAMALA" appear, and you'll feel better.

Don't ask me why I watched this movie.  And don't ask me while I took the time to actually get it delivered on Netflix... I think I just heard it was good, and I put it in my queue. 

And.... it was pretty good.  Story goes that Robert Redford is a CIA Researcher in New York who returns back to his office to find everyone there has been killed... and had he not taken a back way out of the office to avoid traffic, he would have been one of them.  Suddenly, he realized he can't trust anyone, and everywhere he turns, people are dying.  The only ally he ends up with is a woman he befriends, Kathy, played by Faye Dunaway. 

Released back in 1975, it was directed by the late Sydney Pollack, who also directed "The Firm", "Tootsie" and "Out of Africa", and it does have that very dated feel to it.  The movie seems like it drags on a bit too long, perhaps 20 minutes or so, but overall, not bad.

So, to sum up, if you are looking for a great flick to catch at a matinee, then go check out "Thor"... and if you are looking for anything to watch and find "Devil" on Starz, or "Three Days of the Condor" on AMC, then give it a few minutes.

The Summer of Blogging Day Twenty 

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