Superhero movies are aplenty and mythology films are well-known,… MoreSuperhero movies are aplenty and mythology films are well-known, "Thor" a combination of both genres directed by respected actor/director Kenneth Branagh walks that fine line well but not greatly.
Thor is one of Marvel's most revered creations - a fallen God who is banished from his kingdom of Asgard to Earth by his father Odin due to his arrogance - and "Thor" the film does a valiant job in ensuring that they do not make any major mistakes. The problem with "Thor" lies in its scale: while the battles taking place in Thor's home realm are grand and epic, on Earth he eventually has to save a small town in ... New Mexico.
Thor is inspired by Norse mythology, known as the God of Thunder, his signature being a powerful Hammer of which he is stripped of until he learns humility (very Excalibur-like down to the Hammer being stuck in a stone) - scale and grandness is implied just with his backstory, so the film is a bit of a snooze the moment he lands on Earth.
It doesn't help that the Earthlings are pretty bland, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings can't do much with the generic material they are given and the whole Government-conspiracy storyline is a bit tired. The film also has to squeeze "Avenger" references into its story with presence of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a glimpse of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) - so while the film works hard, it doesn't move much.
As for Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston who play central characters Thor and Loki respectively. Let's say that while Hemsworth has got the look and plays blustering blowhard really well, his line delivery and blank eyes are flat. Hiddleston, on the other hand, plays tormented Loki brilliantly. It's no surprise he'll get to reprise his performance as the central villain in "Avengers". Hiddleston doesn't take Loki over the top instead really showing the pain and torment behind his eyes.
While "Thor" doesn't soar, it does have moments in which it scores - making it a solid but forgettable entry into the comic book pantheon.
What a mess!
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is OK. But in today's… MoreWhat a mess!
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is OK. But in today's cinematic world where superhero movies can reach the upper echelon of quality OK just doesn't cut it especially for a film that reboots an incredibly well-liked film that's not even 15 years old.
It's not that "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" isn't well done, it ticks almost every box in the rule book of effective super hero movies:
1. It has excitingly produced action sequences, including a hyper-kinetic opening
2. Contains an over-the-top yet delightful demonic villainous performance from Dane DeHaan plus an expected charming turn from Emma Stone
3. It doesn't deviate much from its base strong source material - though it does in not-so-very smart areas
4. It loads up on the Joss Whedon-like quips.
But despite that, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" falters. Its biggest problem is how overstuffed it is. There so much going on yet so little happening. The writers cram into it so much that it's impossible to mentally engage.
1. Rhino comes, goes and then returns just to bookend the film. I don't even know if Paul Giamatti was even trying to act or just yelling angry lines in a Russian accent.
2. Green Goblin evolution is done well but way too quickly. The filmmakers decisions to make Harry Osborn the first GG vs his father Norman is a questionable yet understandable one as Harry's story is far more interesting than most of the other storylines the film offers but it also suffers the most from the film's overstuffed script. Missed opportunities include further exploration on his relationship with Peter Parker other than a "walking through the city" montage where they catch up.
3. Electro never gels into anything interesting other than a cool special effect partly due to Jaime Foxx's non-dimensional portrayal of a sad-sack, misunderstood loser (he makes Jim Carrey's sad-sack portrayl of Riddler's back story in "Batman Forever" seem Oscar-worthy). So little depth for a character with such contrasting emotional potential.
4. Sally Field does a pretty splendid job in her small scenes as Aunt May. Despite the film missing out on giving her storyline its proper exploration, she squeezes out moments of real emotion especially when she says to Peter "You're my boy!". Her pain is the real pain a surrogate parent feels when their child searches for their true identity. Oh, and the writers throw in a mini-plot about how she needs to go to nursing school to support them, but that is just throwaway and really doesn't go anywhere.
Adding to the multi-villains (which is a mistake superhero franchises normally don't make until their 3rd entry, no?) is how awkward the tone is. The writers seem to jam quips into places where no person in their right mind would quip.
This is where poor, talented and actually well-suited to the role Andrew Garfield struggles with his portrayal -- similar to the 1st installment, he struggles to find the right balance between smart-alecky and dark. He's a terrific actor but he can't save his sometimes clunky and out-of-place dialogue which includes the romantic-comedy banter between him and Emma Stone which are groan-inducing. And some exchanges feel that there are bad sitcom worthy:
Peter: I was cleaning the chimney.
Aunt May: We have no chimney.
He seems to not find the right personality type for Peter Parker and seems to switch characterizations mid-scene.
By the end of "The Amazing Spider-Man"s 2 hours and 22 minutes, you will feel exhausted - and not in a good way. Other than a major plot development that occurs in this film that mimics the comic book, there's not a lot to talk about or remember after you walk out of the theater.
Not quite Joel Schumacher/Batman disaster, but at moment's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" flies close to it.
The thoroughly enjoyable "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is Wes Anderson's… MoreThe thoroughly enjoyable "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is Wes Anderson's grandest film. And that's saying a lot from the creator of past gems such as "Rushmore".