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Jack Rico

By

2011/09/13 at 12:00am

Thor

09.13.2011 | By |

Thor,’ the first Marvel superhero film of the year, debuts this weekend to high expectations from cinephiles to film executives. This film adaptation is faithful to the mythology of the comic book hero, has a well blend of humor and drama, is visually stunning, but stumbles through the end, and although it recovers, it does not manage to have a place in the pantheon of superhero classics such as ‘Superman II’ and ‘The Dark Knight.’ However, the film, mostly, is great popcorn fun and is worth spending the money to see, especially in IMAX 3D.

For those who have not had the pleasure of reading the comics of the blond Norse god, it centers around the mythical Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions against an old icy foe reignite an ancient war. He is then banished to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and forced to live amongst the human race. But it is here where he faces the wrath of his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who sends a nearly indestructible robot of Asgard to Earth. Thor must regain the strength of his thunderous hammer and discover what it takes to be a true hero.

‘Thor’ is by no means meant to be a masterpiece, nor is it intended to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The story written by a trio of writers has holes, some scenes are too long, and some are too short, such as the grand fight on Earth. It is also predictable and offers nothing new that we haven’t seen. It simply fulfills its objectives to entertain, overwhelm the senses with its radiant special effects, deliver millions of dollars at the box office and to serve as a preamble to ‘The Avengers’ in 2012. If that’s what it set out to do, I cannot criticize those goals if its purpose is to create a mental escape for lovers of this genre. Director Kenneth Branagh and production designer Bo Welch managed to suspend reality for us for a couple of hours and transport us to the heavenly realm of Asgard.

The performances from the cast are solid, but Hemsworth as Thor, who at first seemed a skeptical choice, is a bonafide star in the making. His charisma is attractive to women and his demeanor brings respect from men. Although his performance has touches of stiffness, he’s endowed with a good voice and good looks. There is no reason why with a few more movies under his belt, the big Australian can become a bigger action star than they overrated Sam Worthington.

The romantic interest of ‘Thor’ is Jane Foster, played by the recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman. The chemistry between them is good but not magical. At first they seem a strange couple, but under the scope of some of the scripts comical situations, she manages to make it work. Hopkins is once again an actor who makes makes great with what he has, but I’m not sure his role as Odin, Thor’s father, is the kind of role that stimulates his creative juices.

The best scenes of the film are the electrifying battle between the Norse gods and their archenemies, the mighty ice giants. Indeed this is where we see the full power of the magic hammer Mjöllnir and it is only in stunning 3D IMAX that it can truly be appreciated.

With a duration over two hours, the film has 20 minutes of excess fat that would fair better if you eliminate some scenes as is the case of the inebriated sequence with Thor and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). It also did not help that the outcome of the denouement didn’t possess the tense spitting vibe of ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Overall, ‘Thor’ has charm and delivers a satisfying popcorn movie that one will not feel remorseful to have paid to see. I suggest you stay for the end credits (it takes about 3 minutes or so) to see the hidden scene that gives a clue to what to see in ‘The Avengers’ for next year.

Mario Torres

By

2011/09/06 at 12:00am

X-Men: First Class

09.6.2011 | By |

I like comic book movies. I don’t read comics, but as far as movies go, there is always something entertaining about one character, or a group, going through or adapting to an unimaginable change.

X Men: First Class is an excellent comic book movie, for those expecting nothing more. Great action sequences, interesting character chemistry and hints of humor make the Professor X’s clan (or shall I say Magneto?) a very enjoyable 130 minutes.

Let me not give you the wrong impression, this is Magneto’s movie… The rest of the characters live in the world, but in a way, they seem to revolve around him, whether right from the beginning or towards the end.

As we start the movie, it feels like we are watching two movies intersecting one another, and it works beautifully thanks to director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Layer Cake), who like Bryan Singer (the original director for this and now producer), has developed a very keen sense of showing parallel stories that later convene. 

It’s Poland, 1944, and the scene is practically the same as the one we saw in the first X-Men movie. Kid gets separated from his parents, bends fence, gets knocked down… but, what happens next? What follows clearly states what will happen during the rest of the movie, along with witnessing how Erik/Magneto’s evil psyche is born right in front of us because of Kevin Bacon’s character Sebastian Shaw.

Kevin Bacon… he really does his best to be an evil villain, but I liked him as a villain more in the movie “Super”.

On the other side of the world, Westchester, New York, we simply see how Charles Xavier, as a young man, discovers an intruder that looks like his mom, but it’s really Raven/Mystique. And… yes, that is his introduction and Raven’s as well. How Raven ended up in his kitchen, in the middle of the night, in that same house that is in the middle of a forest, is beyond me, but let’s move along.

 

James McAvoy is charming as Charles Xavier. In the following scenes about 20 years later, his innocence, which will eventually be a character trait that will separate him from Magneto, is clearly established as he tries to chat up a girl at a bar in Oxford using his powers. While this happens, Erik, with a very dark, but bland portrayal by Michael Fassbender, is trying to hunt down the person that created and destroyed him, Sebastian Shaw. This takes him to France and Argentina, where he finds out more information about his nemesis.

 

As if this were not enough, Rose Byrne (who seems to be in every movie lately), is a “sexy” CIA agent tracking down Sebastian Shaw, and while she gets close, she witnesses Shaw and his crew of mutants displaying her powers. Where did Sebastian find this crew of mutants? Again, we don’t know. He seems to have a pretty close relationship with them, but let’s move along.

After seeing this, Byrne’s character, Agent MacTaggert, literally says she needs an “expert in genetic mutation”, and who you gonna call? Charles Xavier. She follows Charles to the same bar, and he uses the same line he used previously to pick up MacTaggert. It doesn’t work, she goes straight to business. Charles willingly joins her team, along with Raven. In the CIA’s operation to catch Sebastian Shaw with the mutants help, they meet Erik as he tries to stop Shaw as well, but fails and Charles saves his life.

The movie takes a comedic turn after their meeting as they formalize the mutant team and Oliver Platt, in a very minor character, helps them settle into a research base. The recruiting sequence is a highlight and Wolverine makes an expected cameo with what is probably the best line of the movie, which I can’t say here (he was being rude).

The last unexpected turn of the movie is Sebastian Shaw’s visit to the research base where the young mutants are, which feels like a bit too long of an action sequence. I found interesting that he does not want to kidnap them, or tries to hurt them, he simply gives them a choice to choose sides, much like Magneto’s character. Some go, some stay, but since it is Magneto’s movie, these choices at the end seem irrelevant.

From here on forward, it is a simple evil vs. good training and fight sequences while establishing the crucial role Charles Xavier has in developing and caring for his “students”.

The relationship between Erik and Charles takes a hit at the very end, and while Charles tries to maintain the peace, it is too late for Erik to go back and not hate the humans (although his nemesis, Shaw, was a mutant too… but let’s move along), so they split sides.

Matthew Vaughn is a good storyteller, and while the second half of the movie lacks the same interest than the beginning, he knows how to handle it. The movie is consistent, and if I were a comic book fan, I am pretty sure I would have liked it even more. Two things before I leave you: look out for a Rebecca Romjin cameo, it’s quick, but amusing; and there is no additional scene after the credits roll, so you get to leave to the bathroom early. I only tell you because I wish I had known…

Mario Torres

By

2011/05/31 at 12:00am

X-Men: First Class

05.31.2011 | By |

X-Men: First Class

I like comic book movies. I don’t read comics, but as far as movies go, there is always something entertaining about one character, or a group, going through or adapting to an unimaginable change.

X Men: First Class is an excellent comic book movie, for those expecting nothing more. Great action sequences, interesting character chemistry and hints of humor make the Professor X’s clan (or shall I say Magneto?) a very enjoyable 130 minutes.

Let me not give you the wrong impression, this is Magneto’s movie… The rest of the characters live in the world, but in a way, they seem to revolve around him, whether right from the beginning or towards the end.

As we start the movie, it feels like we are watching two movies intersecting one another, and it works beautifully thanks to director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Layer Cake), who like Bryan Singer (the original director for this and now producer), has developed a very keen sense of showing parallel stories that later convene. 

It’s Poland, 1944, and the scene is practically the same as the one we saw in the first X-Men movie. Kid gets separated from his parents, bends fence, gets knocked down… but, what happens next? What follows clearly states what will happen during the rest of the movie, along with witnessing how Erik/Magneto’s evil psyche is born right in front of us because of Kevin Bacon’s character Sebastian Shaw.

Kevin Bacon… he really does his best to be an evil villain, but I liked him as a villain more in the movie “Super”.

On the other side of the world, Westchester, New York, we simply see how Charles Xavier, as a young man, discovers an intruder that looks like his mom, but it’s really Raven/Mystique. And… yes, that is his introduction and Raven’s as well. How Raven ended up in his kitchen, in the middle of the night, in that same house that is in the middle of a forest, is beyond me, but let’s move along.

 

James McAvoy is charming as Charles Xavier. In the following scenes about 20 years later, his innocence, which will eventually be a character trait that will separate him from Magneto, is clearly established as he tries to chat up a girl at a bar in Oxford using his powers. While this happens, Erik, with a very dark, but bland portrayal by Michael Fassbender, is trying to hunt down the person that created and destroyed him, Sebastian Shaw. This takes him to France and Argentina, where he finds out more information about his nemesis.

 

As if this were not enough, Rose Byrne (who seems to be in every movie lately), is a “sexy” CIA agent tracking down Sebastian Shaw, and while she gets close, she witnesses Shaw and his crew of mutants displaying her powers. Where did Sebastian find this crew of mutants? Again, we don’t know. He seems to have a pretty close relationship with them, but let’s move along.

After seeing this, Byrne’s character, Agent MacTaggert, literally says she needs an “expert in genetic mutation”, and who you gonna call? Charles Xavier. She follows Charles to the same bar, and he uses the same line he used previously to pick up MacTaggert. It doesn’t work, she goes straight to business. Charles willingly joins her team, along with Raven. In the CIA’s operation to catch Sebastian Shaw with the mutants help, they meet Erik as he tries to stop Shaw as well, but fails and Charles saves his life.

The movie takes a comedic turn after their meeting as they formalize the mutant team and Oliver Platt, in a very minor character, helps them settle into a research base. The recruiting sequence is a highlight and Wolverine makes an expected cameo with what is probably the best line of the movie, which I can’t say here (he was being rude).

The last unexpected turn of the movie is Sebastian Shaw’s visit to the research base where the young mutants are, which feels like a bit too long of an action sequence. I found interesting that he does not want to kidnap them, or tries to hurt them, he simply gives them a choice to choose sides, much like Magneto’s character. Some go, some stay, but since it is Magneto’s movie, these choices at the end seem irrelevant.

From here on forward, it is a simple evil vs. good training and fight sequences while establishing the crucial role Charles Xavier has in developing and caring for his “students”.

The relationship between Erik and Charles takes a hit at the very end, and while Charles tries to maintain the peace, it is too late for Erik to go back and not hate the humans (although his nemesis, Shaw, was a mutant too… but let’s move along), so they split sides.

Matthew Vaughn is a good storyteller, and while the second half of the movie lacks the same interest than the beginning, he knows how to handle it. The movie is consistent, and if I were a comic book fan, I am pretty sure I would have liked it even more. Two things before I leave you: look out for a Rebecca Romjin cameo, it’s quick, but amusing; and there is no additional scene after the credits roll, so you get to leave to the bathroom early. I only tell you because I wish I had known…

Jack Rico

By

2011/05/06 at 12:00am

Thor

05.6.2011 | By |

Thor

Thor,’ the first Marvel superhero film of the year, debuts this weekend to high expectations from cinephiles to film executives. This film adaptation is faithful to the mythology of the comic book hero, has a well blend of humor and drama, is visually stunning, but stumbles through the end, and although it recovers, it does not manage to have a place in the pantheon of superhero classics such as ‘Superman II’ and ‘The Dark Knight.’ However, the film, mostly, is great popcorn fun and is worth spending the money to see, especially in IMAX 3D.

For those who have not had the pleasure of reading the comics of the blond Norse god, it centers around the mythical Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions against an old icy foe reignite an ancient war. He is then banished to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and forced to live amongst the human race. But it is here where he faces the wrath of his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who sends a nearly indestructible robot of Asgard to Earth. Thor must regain the strength of his thunderous hammer and discover what it takes to be a true hero.

‘Thor’ is by no means meant to be a masterpiece, nor is it intended to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The story written by a trio of writers has holes, some scenes are too long, and some are too short, such as the grand fight on Earth. It is also predictable and offers nothing new that we haven’t seen. It simply fulfills its objectives to entertain, overwhelm the senses with its radiant special effects, deliver millions of dollars at the box office and to serve as a preamble to ‘The Avengers’ in 2012. If that’s what it set out to do, I cannot criticize those goals if its purpose is to create a mental escape for lovers of this genre. Director Kenneth Branagh and production designer Bo Welch managed to suspend reality for us for a couple of hours and transport us to the heavenly realm of Asgard.

The performances from the cast are solid, but Hemsworth as Thor, who at first seemed a skeptical choice, is a bonafide star in the making. His charisma is attractive to women and his demeanor brings respect from men. Although his performance has touches of stiffness, he’s endowed with a good voice and good looks. There is no reason why with a few more movies under his belt, the big Australian can become a bigger action star than they overrated Sam Worthington.

The romantic interest of ‘Thor’ is Jane Foster, played by the recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman. The chemistry between them is good but not magical. At first they seem a strange couple, but under the scope of some of the scripts comical situations, she manages to make it work. Hopkins is once again an actor who makes makes great with what he has, but I’m not sure his role as Odin, Thor’s father, is the kind of role that stimulates his creative juices.

The best scenes of the film are the electrifying battle between the Norse gods and their archenemies, the mighty ice giants. Indeed this is where we see the full power of the magic hammer Mjöllnir and it is only in stunning 3D IMAX that it can truly be appreciated.

With a duration over two hours, the film has 20 minutes of excess fat that would fair better if you eliminate some scenes as is the case of the inebriated sequence with Thor and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). It also did not help that the outcome of the denouement didn’t possess the tense spitting vibe of ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Overall, ‘Thor’ has charm and delivers a satisfying popcorn movie that one will not feel remorseful to have paid to see. I suggest you stay for the end credits (it takes about 3 minutes or so) to see the hidden scene that gives a clue to what to see in ‘The Avengers’ for next year.

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