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Friday, April 11, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Now we've all heard it before. We've seen the reviews from the critics, the posts from our friends, and the retweets and hash tags taking over our computer. They're all saying basically the same thing:

That Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best Marvel movie to come out.

It's better than Iron Man 3

It beats out Thor: The Dark World

And it's even better than The Avengers

I'm going to be honest, I love Thor and everything about his world and story arc. If you don't believe me go and read my blurb on the movie from last year. If you've seen that blog then you know that I can be a bit defensive when it comes to my favourite hero. So when people started telling me that Captain America, Captain America (Who I still love, but he is only my second favourite) is better than Thor, well...

Okay I know that the Hulk is punching Thor, but you get the picture. Me= the Hulk. Those telling me about The Winter Soldier= Thor.

But then I went to see the movie and with all the action, plot development, and character arcs it sort of blew my mind. So now I'm going to have to pay up and say *swallows* that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best Marvel movies I have seen within this and the last decade. (But Thor: The Dark World is still my number one, because I am still a little biased.)


Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set in the Washington D. C. area two years after the Avengers took place. The Captain, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still trying to acclimate himself to an environment that should seem familiar, but has become alien. The government has changed, ideals have died, and the world is no longer black and white. It's grey with the enemies hiding in plain sight and the good guys making some questionable decisions. Coming from a time where you can trust where your orders come from the Captain must decide who to follow when a mysterious Winter Soldier arrives to wreck havoc on his life and the lives around him.

Within the first five to ten minutes of the film we are thrown into a fantastic action sequence that doesn't leave time for you to blink. While in his two previous movies we were able to see the Captain's combat skills and moves with ease, in The Winter Soldier his attacks are faster, fluid, and more often than not, silent. A lot of the times it was like he was a blue blur on the screen, but it proved how much he had grown since joining S.H.I.E.L.D. And of course the action doesn't stop there as it continues through out the entire film always leaving you wondering over the survival of our hero.


My favourite action scene was the reveal of the Winter Soldier and I mean when we first see him come on screen. You might have seen this in trailers, but it is when he is standing in the middle of the street, a mask covering his face and a metal arm raising a gun towards an oncoming car. Ahhh! It is so great in theatres, I was on the edge of my seat. Of course I have to admit that I am usually drawn towards the villain--Not in the "I hope he wins" kind of way or "My Lord he is attractive"--But in the "What makes them menacing? How did they become so dangerous?" kind of way.

In that respect I wish they had delved a little deeper into the Winter Soldier's past. I wanted to see more of his transformation into the deadly assassin and sure we might see him struggle with his identity, but for me that is not enough...But I guess this movie should be about the Captain since it is called Captain America:--oh wait there's more--The Winter Soldier! Oh well, I suppose I will have to wait for Cap 3, but at least they have me coming back so...Well done, Marvel. Well done.


So you know how people say that this is better than the Avengers right? Well, that might be a popular opinion because it brings back much of the cast from that film. (Obviously excluding: Coulson, Thor, Tony Stark, Banner, and Hawkeye) Returning are some of my favourites: Director Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders), Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and of course Steve Rogers. Add to that Sam Wilson the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and you have an epic cast that can keep your attention throughout the 113 minutes. There are also a few returning characters from The First Avenger, but I am not going to tell you who they are so if you're really interested you have to go check it out for yourself.

Every single actor and actress in this film does their job in creating a believable experience that can be thoroughly enjoyed until the every end. Chris Evans is Captain America as Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. Scarlett Johansson just seems to get better with every appearance and Samuel L. Jackson continues to provide an intimidating performance. Seriously though, after watching him as Nick Fury would you ever want to see that man show up suddenly in your home? I don't even think I would want to face him walking down the street!
    It is so rare to find actors who are the characters. Who, when you go in to see them on screen you forget that they are simply acting. It immerses you even further into the movie experience when you only see the character and that is really all I could ask for.

 
I wish I could tell you so much more about The Winter Soldier plot than what the trailers show you, but alas! I have a code and that is to not have spoilers in my blogs. I must only tell you the aspects that excited me most, the nit picks I might have had, and possibly, possibly reveal my favourite scene. But what I can say and what you have probably heard from countless sources is that after watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier everything in the Marvel Universe changes. You thought the ending of Iron Man 3 changed a few things? Well, think again. This movie will blow your mind.


Until next time...

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: "You need to keep both eyes open." -Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

Stan Lee Sighting: Featured towards the final quarter of the film. You would have to be blind to miss him.

End credit scenes: Come on, people. This is Marvel. Of course there our credit scenes! Two of them in fact, so unless you have somewhere to be or are not that interested, stick around until you see that Disney/Marvel logo. It is always worth it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Muppets Most wanted


 
So I finally managed to get out to the theatre again and with all the new movies coming out it was hard to choose which one to watch. With much deliberation and some input from my movie companion the Muppets Most Wanted came out on top of our list. I’ll be honest; it was mainly because I was really in the mood for a light hearted film and because I just really love the Muppets. Within the first five minutes I knew that it was a good choice.

While the 2011 The Muppets was like a love song to the beloved characters Muppets Most Wanted is an adventure with a larger focus on the characters. It’s their world tour following where they left off in the previous film, but it’s not smooth sailing on their way around the globe. The world’s most dangerous frog, Constantine bears a striking resemblance to Kermit the frog which results in an identity switch-a-roo and criminal escapades throughout the movie. As Miss Piggy swoons over the new version of Kermit other members are not so sure of his questionable personality or his hired manager, Dominic Badguy (played by Ricky Gervais).

And yes, it is that obvious. Dominic Badguy is a bad guy as was established in every single trailer they have ever shown us. That isn’t even the most obvious play in the film, but that’s the beauty of Most Wanted. When you get right down to it this film knows what it is and doesn’t try to be something else. It doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s instead silly, fun, warm, nostalgic, and full of heart…As you can see the list goes on and on.


For me Most Wanted is far better than The Muppets (Sorry Segal, but thank you for bringing them back!) for three reasons.

1.       The Muppets. I mean when you go to a Muppet film that is essentially what you’re looking for, especially the main four: Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the bear, and Gonzo the purple guy with the schnoz. While Most Wanted focuses a lot on Kermit, Constantine, and Miss Piggy it also features plenty of the other Muppets from the past films; ones that are easily recognized and ones only a seasoned Muppet fan would know. (Note: I am not a seasoned Muppet fan and there were some that I had no idea who they were)

 
2.       The Songs. Muppets Most Wanted’s songs were so much fun and easy to sing to ranging from upbeat toe tappers to mellow love songs to jazzy numbers that had me dancing in my seat. From the very start of the film the opening number, We’re Doing a Sequel had found its way into my head and has yet to leave me in peace. Of course it has a Broadway vibe so it’s not really a surprise why it’s my favourite song of the film. Second favourite song would have to go to the bad guy duet between Constantine and Dominic Badguy, I’m Number One which has a great jazzy beat that I will never find old. My number three song is the Interrogation Song with Sam the Eagle and Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell).

 
3.       The Cameos. For some reason there seemed to be more cameos in Most Wanted than in The Muppets and a ton of them that I had no idea was a part of this. Not only that, but these cameos seemed a lot more effortless and natural. Half the fun of the movie for me was trying to identify every celebrity guest to pop in. I’m pretty sure I missed a few, but Tom Hiddleston, Lady Gaga, James McAvoy, Russell Tovey, Celine Dion, and Stanley Tucci. You know, just to name a few.



Now there was only one thing that I did not like about this film and it was-wait for it-the Muppet babies. They seriously gave me the creeps and really didn’t serve a purpose to the story at all. At least their part was very small so I can let it slide, but should I ever encounter a Muppet baby in real life I will most definitely be avoiding eye contact and slowly backing away.
Muppets Most Wanted is a delightful film for family, friends, the older and the younger generation who just want to have a good time. Filled with catchy songs, gags, adventure, love, and fantastic cameos there is nothing more I could ask for from a Muppet film. It reminded me of Muppets 3D in the Disney parks or several of their older instalments and carried the same magic I have always loved. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go don a golden top hat with matching outfit and dance my way through We’re Doing a Sequel one more time. Until the next movie visit…

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: “Of course. My name first, then spacebar, spacebar, spacebar... your name.” –Constantine (World’s most dangerous frog and #1 criminal)- Matt Vogel
Favourite Muppet: Walter, then Kermit, then Miss Piggy (Can there ever be only one favourite?)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" A typical yet entertaining spy movie.



Today I was able to pop over to my local movie theatre in search of an entertaining story that could take my mind off of the cold. What I found and what I was persuaded to go to was the recently released Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which is based off of the popular character from Tom Clancy's booksAs the fifth film in the Jack Ryan series, Shadow Recruit is the first stand-alone story to be made and does not follow a plotline from one of the many novels.
    Okay. I'm afraid I have to come clean now. Before the trailers started coming out for this film I really had no idea who Jack Ryan was or what he even did. So any speck of information I may have on this guy is only coming from internet research and IMDb. Seriously, there are like three tabs opened up on my search engine right now. But honestly, maybe not knowing what I was getting into allowed me to go in with fresh eyes. I wouldn't be expecting to go along with one of the books or analysing a character that has been played by three other actors (research knowledge strikes again). I would be going in with an open mind, ready to see a film without being biased.  And so, without further ado, here are my thoughts on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
   
    So, you know how I said I had no idea who Jack Ryan was? Yeah. Turns out I didn't really need to know him in order to enjoy this film. I wasn't lost. I wasn't confused as to the purpose of the characters or who they were. You see, the beauty of a stand-alone and/or reboot of any franchise is that they usually do a fantastic job of explaining things. Everything I needed to know of Ryan's origins was shown in like the first fifth teen minutes of the film before the title even showed up. Awesome, right? It’s like I got a cheat sheet on Ryan’s background. Anyway…
    …When the film opens you are immediately thrown into an intense scene that caused my insides to squirm and then you are transitioned into another scene that is-for lack of a better word-chaotic. Remember, these are just the first fifth teen minutes in the movie. I still had about ninety minutes to go and already I was on the edge of my seat, gripping my arm rests. It’s a lot of will he or won’t he survive/get caught/catch the villain scenarios going on here and, to top it off, it involves a plot against America. (Doesn’t it always?)
    What I am trying to say is that there really isn't a moment where you can sit back and just take a breather. I think it's safe to say that if you're looking for an action film Shadow Recruits will most likely be one of the top picks in theatres. Now while the story line was a little predictable you have to ask yourself: was it entertaining? The answer (for me at least) was yes, yes it was. I'm not looking for Oscar gold when I go to see an action/spy flick. I'm just looking for a good time and that is exactly what I got.

 
As for the acting, I couldn't be happier. Chris Pine brings a solid portrayal of Jack Ryan, once again managing to infuse his character with the perfect amount of charisma. It’s the sort of charisma that seems to follow Pine from role to role like a cloud and allows him to create someone likable yet mischievous. There really isn't much left to say about him except that he continues to be one of my favourite actors currently on screen.
    Opposite of Pine was the always lovely Keira Knightly who played the cool and collected love interest that-like in all action films with villains-would inevitably be kidnapped in some way. However, I must admit that whenever she was in a scene I was always distracted by her American accent. Not to say that it was bad, but more along the lines that every now and then I would hear it slip and be pulled out of the story. I'm not entirely sure why she wasn't allowed to use her own accent as I feel like it would have better that way. Of course as it doesn't ruin the film I can let it slide.
    Now onto the villain! Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce the fantastic, merciless, brutal, and stoic villain to Jack Ryan's story, Viktor Cherevin. As if he didn't do enough as the director, Kenneth Branagh brings life to the sort of villain I have been searching for since all other present villains have begun causing me to sympathize with them (*cough, cough* Loki, Khan, Cato, the bear from Brave *cough, cough*). I mean from the way he terrorizes Ryan, shoots his own men, and the ability to go from a jovial grin to a menacing stare that lasts forever, this guy is brilliant. There are no redeeming qualities for Branagh's character and I am free to willingly cheer on Ryan. Thank you for an awesome villain, Branagh, thank you.
    Oh and before I forget, let's mention Mr. Kevin Costner's role as Thomas Harper who I assume is Jack Ryan's higher up when it comes to missions. His delivery was dry and sharp with little room to lighten the mood. He played the character as a no nonsense sort of man who wasn't afraid to jump into the mission should he be needed. Out of all the characters I have to say that I really enjoyed Costner's the most and wish that he had more screen time.

 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is fast paced and bursting with a talented cast who easily usher you from one intense scene to the next. While I was at first reluctant to watch it, I am now glad that I did. And hey! Watching Chris Pine kick butt with Costner and Branagh thrown in is not a bad way to beat the cold. The awful, unforgiving cold…
    Ahem! It is a typical spy flick with a predictable plotline, but in the end Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit became the type of film I would have no problem seeing again. So until next time...


KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: "You Americans like to think of yourselves as direct. Perhaps you are just rude." -Kenneth Branagh (Viktor Cherevin)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

It is a new year and so begins a new list of movies to watch where we can weep, laugh, smile, and think deeply about what we have seen. The first film I had the pleasure of seeing-and one I should have seen far beforehand in 2013-was the second instalment to The Hobbit series, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Truly I cannot think of a better movie to have started the year with seeing how I have been a long time Tolkien/Middle Earth fan and I felt assured that I would not be disappointed. After a mere two and a half hours that seemed like they flew by I was proven to be correct and I cannot wait for the third instalment.

As is my habit, I went in trying not to expect anything only to expect everything from it as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was still fresh in my mind from a recent late night viewing. I wanted to be surprised and captivated by an incredible story I had basically studied from my childhood and with Peter Jackson at its helm I knew that I had hope. It was a hope that would not be proven false as from the very moment the title faded in I was ensnared.

The Desolation of Smaug carried on from where we had left off in the preceding film albeit with a short detour twelve months before the events take place. As the story goes along I was grateful for how closely it followed next to Tolkien's written work, the journey of Gandalf (Ian McKellan), the dwarves, and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) taking them along the familiar plotline. Except it isn't just the simple plotline, because as the book is brought to the silver screen details that were not spelled out before are brought to life, melding smoothly in with the original work. Well developed stories are laid out along the near three hours giving us backgrounds for characters who had only owned a paragraph in the book. In this sense Peter Jackson's creative liberties to The Hobbit were quite welcomed and would have been fine if it had not been for Tauriel (Evangeline Lily).

    Tauriel, is the elven captain of the guard and is born completely from the mind of Peter Jackson, providing the female empowerment to an otherwise male dominant movie. She is tolerable compared to other changes made to the plotline and, at a stretch, can be seen to fit smoothly into Tolkien's world as if she had always been there in the shadows of words. Evangeline Lily's portrayal of the warrior elf is consistent with what is shown in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and actually has me wishing she were a part of the series. However, there isn't truly a purpose to her character and Tauriel only serves as a minor subplot that does nothing to move the story along.

As for the characters who belong in this fictional world I cannot complain and am truly happy to see some familiar faces such as Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gandalf, and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). Of course there is also Bilbo and the company of dwarves who come across a variety of new additions to the tale all of whom have their paragraph involvements expanded in order to fill the story out past just Bilbo's adventures. Among the additional characters is Bard (Luke Evans) the rebel of Laketown, Thranduil (Lee Pace) the elven king of Mirkwood, and my all time favourite, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) the stupendous, the dragon beneath the Lonely Mountain.
    It is without a doubt in my mind when I say that Smaug is one of my favourite moments in the entire film, the dragon exceeding all of my previous expectations. He is intimidating with a monstrous form and stretching wings that sparkle with the collection of his stolen wealth. Despite a small part of me recognizing that the beast is merely a CGI creation I could not help but shrink back in my seat the more I watched him. It helps that the mighty Smaug is voiced by the equally intimidating (although in an entirely different way) and fantastic, Benedict Cumberbatch whose deep tones were just made for the throat of a dragon.

 
Currently it has been two hours and forty five minutes since the credits rolled and I left the theatre and I am still trying to wrap my head around what I had seen. I am still struggling to find words to express feelings over an ending that had left me speechless save for the occasionally exclaimed 'What?!' and the constantly whispered, 'I can't even.' It is intense and adventurous, fun and terrifying, beautiful and strange with a cast that seem to have walked off the pages of The Hobbit. I can only speak for myself when I say that I was on the edge of my seat (metaphorically speaking, because that would be uncomfortable for two and a half hours) and rarely did I remember that I was watching a screen...Until the end.
    Yes, you have read the ominous break in the previous sentence as something that had struck me in some unpleasant ways as the credits had begun to roll. If you have seen the film then you will understand the disbelief and the desperate act of reaching towards the screen over where the movie was cut short in order to be continued in The Hobbit: There and Back Again. If you have yet to see The Desolation of Smaug...Prepare yourself. It is rather abrupt and it will leave you (possibly) stunned in your seat for a moment or two.

Despite my minor problems with certain creative liberties, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will have a welcome place reserved in my film library for when it is released to DVD and Blu-ray. Until then I will applaud Mr. Peter Jackson and the crew over a job well done and continue wishing for Middle Earth as the final instalment draws near. On that note I say good night and wish that you may have many fantastic movie experiences in the future...
 
 KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: "I am fire...I am death!" -Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug)

Song in the credits: I See Fire performed and written by Ed Sheeren



Am a bit biased? Perhaps. Am I a professional film critic? Not at all and I never wish to be. The art of film will always be my passion and I will forever give my honest opinion as well as accept the ones given by anyone else.

Always,
M

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Saving Mr. Banks"


It should first be noted that despite what the trailers have shown, Saving Mr. Banks is not a movie about Walt Disney creating the beloved 1964 film, Marry Poppins. This is a movie that focuses mainly on the author, P. L. Travers (Who is played by the fantastic Emma Thompson) who is reluctant to sell the rights to her book which is very dear to her. As quoted from the movie "Mary Poppins and the Bankses are like family" to her and she does not want them to be turned into a silly cartoon. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in fact has about as much screen time as Colin Farrell (Who plays Travers Goff, the father) and could be considered-in my opinion-as a supporting actor to Travers' emotional and heart warming story.

Saving Mr. Banks transports us back in time to the 1960s or more specifically 1961, the year in which Mrs. Travers decides to visit Walt Disney about at last turning her book into the movie we all know and love. As it is shown in the trailer, this process is long and hard for the both of them as something in Mrs. Travers' past makes it difficult to let go. She does not want singing, she does not want Dick Van Dyke, she cannot abide any sort of animation, and ultimately she does her very best in making the entire project not worth their time.
    Now that is as far into the actual story as I will go since anything else carries the risk of spoiling the movie which is something I try very hard not to do. The most I can say about the actual plotline is that it is very endearing, moving, and allows you to take a deeper look into a wonderful, yet emotional early life of Helen "Ginty" Goff (Annie Rose Buckley) aka P. L. Travers.






My first thought when leaving the theatre once the credits had rolled is why or how I could have smiled so much and at the same time be assaulted by such heavy emotions. It was my second thought that answered. It was due to the performances from a large part of the cast who succeeded in moving the plotline along with the weight of the true story carried on their shoulders. Emma Thompson's performance was spectacular, Colin Farrell won over the hearts of some who never really liked him, and Paul Giamatti (who played the lovable Travers chauffeur, Ralph) became the surprise favourite character in the entire movie. Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak were also wonderful as the Sherman brothers who wrote the songs for Mary Poppins alongside the extremely patient visual screenplay writer, Don DaGradi who is played by Bradley Whitford.
 

    As for Tom Hank's portrayal of Walt Disney, we must remember the extraordinary feat it is to play such an iconic man who had created magic for years before and even after his death. It is true for those who grew up with Walt-or those like me who were introduced to him after his death- hat Tom Hanks does not look like Disney, he does not sound like Disney, and it is very hard to see him as Disney. That being said, Hanks gave us the best Disney he could provide and while it may not be what we would like to see-which quite frankly would have only been the original Mr. Walt Disney-it is a detail that is not large enough to get twisted into knots over. As I said before Walt Disney is not featured as frequently as one would have gathered from the trailers and in the end you can still enjoy Tom Hanks if nothing else.

Stepping away from the plotline, I would like to touch on the subject of Saving Mr. Banks's wonderful soundtrack that does its job in carrying you through the movie with Mary Poppins-esque musical pieces and several quick songs that easily reminds one of the 1960s. Also featured most prominently in the film is a set of recognizable songs from the Marry Poppins movie including
Chim Chim Cher-ee (Responstible), Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag), and-one of my personal favourites-Lets Go Fly a Kite. Whether these are songs you grew up with or were introduced to years later, Saving Mr. Banks's soundtrack will have you reminiscing over the magic of your childhood and you might just find that a bit of magic still remains.

If you go in to see Saving Mr. Banks hoping to see a story about Walt Disney creating the film Mary Poppins I am afraid that you might be very disappointed in the end. If you go into the theatre with an open mind, ready to enjoy a good story then you can be assured that this is exactly what you are going to get. Saving Mr. Banks was a film that I had anticipated since this past summer and, taking it for what it was, I was pleasantly surprised by a heart warming film that has yet to leave my thoughts. And really, that is what most look for in a movie experience, isn't it? A story that can continue to live on long after it has left the theatre is all one can really ask for when stepping foot in the local theatre.

As I close I must warn that it is perhaps not a film for the youngest of generations to watch as there are some difficult scenes and other parts that might be too heavy for them to see. Other than that, Saving Mr. Banks is one of my must see films of the year that could be compared to the likes of The King's Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel all of which are just those really feel good movies that can make you smile.

Until movie year 2014...

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS.

Favourite quote: "Winds in the east. Mist coming in. Like something is brewing. About to begin." -Colin Farrell (Travers Goff)

DISNEY-P.L.Travers & Mickey

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Icy Adventure "Frozen"


I hope it has been obvious in past posts that I am a fan of Disney and all of its branching companies such as Marvel and Pixar. If it hasn't been obvious, well, I suppose this post makes it pretty clear now. With my love for Disney at last being established it would come to no surprise that I went to see this movie as soon as I could and let me tell you, it was money well spent. So bundle up, sit back with your favourite steamy beverage, and get ready for this chilly review of Frozen.

    As the next in a very long line of princess movies, Disney's Frozen tells the tale of two sisters who had grown apart over the years because of a powerful secret. Elsa (Idina Menzel), the eldest sister, has the gift to control all that comes in the winter, but unfortunately she can't control it. When she accidentally releases an icy curse over the kingdom of Arendelle, her younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell) embarks on an adventure to find Elsa and bring back summer. The problem is Anna only just found out about Elsa's powers and she needs to convince her sister that she can stop the storm before it becomes too late.
     Along the way Anna befriends a grouchy on the outside, gooey on the inside ice cutter, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his playful reindeer, Sven, and an adorable talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad). Left behind in Arendelle is an obvious villain who distrusts Elsa's sorcery and a villain so hidden that it takes you by surprise when he is revealed. Frozen also throws in a cast of singing trolls made of rock and a temperamental snow monster nicknamed Marshmallow by Olaf, rounding out the magical world with the citizens of Arendelle.

    From the very beginning this animated feature was advertised to be the next big musical Disney has produced since The Lion King. Honestly, I wouldn't go that far as to agree, because that would discount every other lovely musical in between such as Pocahontas, Mulan, The Princess and the Frog, and Tangled. However, as musicals go this one was pretty good with touching numbers between sisters, a quirky summer song, and a powerful solo about gaining confidence and letting go of past pains. But lets not forget about a fantastic score that does a splendid job in moving the story along while keeping to a Norwegian feel with such pieces as Vuiele and Heimr Arnadalr.

    While the heart of this movie is almost entirely made up of the love between the two sisters it is helped in no small way by the charm of friendship and loyalty shown by the supporting characters. It doesn't hurt that there is a fair amount of humour as well, sometimes subtle and sometimes just point blank obvious. Of course this is not just a happy-go-lucky romp in the snow, but a story neatly peppered with danger that causes just enough worry for our female hero and co. But don't worry. This is after all a Disney film and Disney (almost) always ends with happiness and good cheer.
 
 
    After only four days in theatres, it was clear that Frozen became an instant hit right out of the gate, rivalling the already beloved Tangled. I wish I could say more about how fantastic this film was, highlighting some of my favourite scenes and talking about my favourite plot developments, but I am afraid that this review must remain spoiler free. So I will end with this: Frozen is an icy adventure guided by a heart warming plot line that will leave you with a happy feeling you just can't shake. Whether you're young or old, friends or family this is a film that will be hard to miss and I wouldn't be surprised to see it winning one or two favourable awards when the season arrives. Oh and can I just say, this is the first time in forever that I sat in a packed theatre that immediately broke into applause once the credits rolled. If that isn't a sign of a good movie, then I don't know what is!
So until the next time...

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: "You're getting married after knowing the guy for one day?!?" -Jonathan Groff (Kristoff)

Easter Egg: There is a disclaimer about a Kristoff comment towards the end of the credits and a hidden clip at the very end.
 

Surprise Cameo: During a song sung by Anna, look for a cameo from Tangled's very own Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. It is a split second shot so if you missed it here is a link to a still frame: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/disney/rapunzel-cameo-in-frozen-surprises-the-director-of-tangled-91634.html


Monday, November 18, 2013

Thor: The Dark World



I have to be honest... I am a major fan of Marvel's Thor before and since it first came to theatres in 2011 and I have been following the journey it took for its sequel to become a reality from the start. I mean lets face it. We all have that one super hero that we can't help but admire whether it be male or female, alien or human, or even DC or Marvel. Thor of Asgard (Played by Chris Hemsworth) just happens to be the hero for me.
    Maybe it's because he's the only one who can wield the famous hammer or maybe it's because he has a wicked accent. The details really don't matter, but what does matter is that I have been waiting for Thor: The Dark World since 2011 and I'll admit that I might have raised my expectations fairly high.

  I know, I know. You can't go into a movie with high expectations because you'll end up disappointed in one way or another. It's the type of advice I have given others when they get overly excited about something that might not happen. Personally, I should have known to play it cool. I have always loved the first movie/book in a series more than those that followed it and can not find the previous joy in a sequel.
    Thor (2011) was great as an introduction to the thunder demigod with all of these fantastic characters and elements that  originally drew me in. It was successful and exciting and, in Thor terms, lightning rarely ever strikes something twice, right? Well, ladies and gentlemen, lightening has officially struck again.




    Thor: The Dark World is an immersive, fast paced film following the story of the Nordic legend, Thor after the events in The Avengers. Filled with an even mixture of humour, darkness, and action there is never moment in which you find yourself itching to check your watch for the time to end. Old characters return with well rounded story lines, new characters are thrown in, and a powerful darkness rises up to oppose Thor in his efforts to protect the nine realms. In the film the famous Asgardian is faced with a threat to his returned love one, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a battle to save earth from darkness, and the challenge of trusting his anti hero brother. Everything is at stake in Thor's life as he must make the hard decisions of a future king in the nine realms and we're there to see it all happen.

    Now as most should know, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was returned to Asgard at the end of Avengers and is now a prisoner after his failed attempt to rule earth. However, he is not the main villain in this story. No, that title belongs to a dark elf known as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of an alien race born in eternal night. They are ancient and come before the time of the realms, living on a planet of darkness that is as hard and cruel as the elves themselves. Their goal in the movie: To return the universe to a time of darkness, essentially killing all nine realms. Why they want to do this is beyond me, but it is clear that this alien race never learned to share.
    The dark elves, while certainly evil, have to be one of my favourite creatures in this film as they are both graceful and deadly with large, piercing eyes that never seem to blink. Eccleston brilliantly portrays Malekith as a powerful and merciless leader of the elves who wouldn't think twice in sacrificing his men for an ultimate victory. Granted, for the first few scenes I couldn't help remembering him as The Doctor from Doctor Who, but it wasn't long before I was drawn into his fantastic performance as the ruthless dark elf. 

    While in the first film we only obtained a glimpse into the world of Asgard, I was rather pleased to find a more in depth look into Thor's home planet. This was something that I felt had been lacking from Thor and it was fascinating to get a good look at the shining city. The images shown are-for me-rather breath taking and I was delighted by various views shown of the city and the land around it.
     The visuals throughout the film are absolutely stunning and it's hard to believe that most are created by computer artists as they seem almost realistic. Showing several areal views of the Asgardian city, it makes one very wishful that such a place truly exists.With glimmering towers and twisting spires, dazzling waters and dark dungeons, Asgard is a city made for the gods.

    Aside from Thor, Jane Foster, and Loki, the returning cast of characters for the most part remain secondary to the over all plot of Thor: The Dark World. It's a shame considering that those like Darcy (Kat Dennings), Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and Erik Selvig Stellan Skarsgard) provide a decent bit of entertainment whenever they were allowed onscreen. Not to say that the supporting cast had miniscule parts to play, but that they almost weren't utilized enough. Though, in the end I suppose this is not the Darcy, Odin, Sif, and Erik Selvig movie, but when you have great characters why not use them?
    Oh and since I am on the supporting characters let me address the fact that Fandral is not played by the same actor. With Josh Dallas (Original Fandral) tied up with Once Upon A Time it was announced that he would be replaced by none other than Zachary Levi. If you are unfamiliar with the name, Zachary Levi is the one who turned a nerd into a spy (Chuck), brought life to the dashing Flynn Rider (Tangled), remembered Sunday (Remember Sunday), and played uncle to a trio of chipmunks (Alvin and the Chipmunk: The Squeakquel).
     Anyway, like most people I was nervous towards replacing an already established character. It's not easy. People will judge. You will be compared and if you don't do it right the fans will never let you hear the end of it. Well, in my opinion, Zachary Levi did a fantastic job. I had nothing to worry about and if I were being completely truthful I actually prefer his portrayal over Josh Dallas. No offence to Dallas, but Levi adds more charm to Fandral, reminding me of a real life version of Flynn Rider. Well, real life in the sense that it's still fiction, but you get my meaning.

    Now before I come to a close I would like to discuss the infamous half brothers, Thor and Loki. As I have said before, Thor is the hero that I love and root for whenever I see him. I had foolishly thought that he couldn't get any better than when he was in Avengers and you know what? He was better. He had changed, in small ways, since his first appearance in 2011, acting more like a leader rather than an arrogant boy who ran before thinking. Thor was epic. Enough said.
    So with Thor being the hero it would make sense that Loki (his on again off again enemy) is the one I want defeated right? I mean Thor saves the earth, Loki tries to force his rule on it. Thor is honest and loyal, Loki uses tricks to betray others. Thor teams up with the Avengers to fight Loki who is the one that "kills" Agent Coulson. Good and evil. Hero and villain. Black and white.
     It should be simple to go against the bad guy in a movie, but apparently we don't have the luxury of simply evil. We are now presented with villains who have feelings, and depth, and so many blasted layers that they are just confusing. I have a bittersweet attachment to Loki, knowing that I shouldn't want him to win and yet continuing to hope that he would get out of trouble. It's hard not to love this guy and you know what? I blame the actor. That's right. I blame you Tom Hiddleston. While a phenomenal actor that changes the dynamics of every character he has played, the man has helped create a villain that would have me misty eyed should he ever be killed. That is not right.
    Where are the days of Darth Vader, Voldemort, and Hannibal Lector? Where are the villains we can hate? Why am I compelled to love and have compassion towards the bad guy? These are the questions that keep me up at night. 

    Since I began ForTheMoviesReview.blogspot.com I have never once found it hard to write an article on a recently viewed film. The same can not be said for Thor: The Dark World. I had to stare at a blank page with a blinking cursor for what seemed like ages as I waited for the right words to come to me. This movie excited me in ways that are hard to express with mere text and I realize that there are so many aspects of it that I might have let out due to this excitement. It is never easy to reveal honest emotions through written word and I feel that perhaps I have done this particular review a great injustice. 
        As I sign off I will leave you with this, my honest opinion as a fan of movies: Thor: The Dark World is my top Marvel movie of the year even when it is put against Iron Man 3. I will even go as far as to say that it took the place of Thor in my top favourites which is basically unheard of. It is fantastic fun with a wonderful plotline and a charismatic cast that steals every scene. You won't want to miss it. Of course being a mega Thor fan I might be a bit biased, but seeing how I am not one of those professional critics I really don't care.


Until next time...

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS

Favourite quote: "Trust my rage."- Tom Hiddleston (Loki)

Easter Eggs: There are two hidden clips located within the end credits. On after the animated credits and one after the simple credits.



FUN FACTS:

Stan Lee Cameo: In a mental institute scene opposite Stellan Skarsgard about half way through the movie.

Spoiler Cameo: WARNING* DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED OR IF YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE---- A brief appearance from Captain America who is impersonated by the trickster, Loki.

Doctor Who: Malkith is played by Cristopher Eccleston who also plays the ninth Doctor in the hit UK series, Doctor Who.