Posts Tagged ‘Tom Hiddleston’

In a nutshell: This time it’s war

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

What do you get when you put a gang of vigilante superheroes in the same room? A fight.But what if those same costumed defenders have to unite to face a massive threat to the planet they have vowed to protect? Then, my dears, it’s war.

That’s the basic premise of The Avengers (I flat out refuse to say that other title, you know, the really shit one) which strings together the characters we know and love from the recent Marvel Comics’ films and ups the ante.

The film sees Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (CHris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans)  as well as the lesser known Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) unite to battle Loki (Tom HIddleston) and his intergalactic army.The ensemble cast squabble, flex their muscles, practice their best quips and come to blows before realising the stakes are much higher than their own egos.

Yes it’s cheesy but director and writer Joss Whedon has his tongue firmly in his cheek.With The Avengers, he has been entrusted with the biggest budget production of his career and it has paid off. Whedon adds flair to the scenes of carnage and destruction but it is his trademark humour – which made his TV work like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly such fan favourites – that gives the story the charm it needs.

In interviews, Whedon said he wanted to make a war movie and he has certainly succeeded, but you also get the sense there isn’t enough room to do all the characters justice. As expected, Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man steals the show while the excellent Samuel L. Jackson is a little underused as Nick Fury, the leader struggling to keep this rag tag group together.

Overall, The Avengers is a triumph but could have benefited from a stronger villain. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, the adopted brother and enemy of Thor, is more whiney than scary.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

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In a nutshell: Whiny American self-obsesses across 100 years. But it sure looks pretty.

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

If you were to do a straw poll asking what actor today could embody the whiny, self obsessed, intellectual nerd as portrayed by Woody Allen in, well, Woody Allen’s movies, fair to say Owen Wilson wouldn’t top the list. But, hey, you know what? As Midnight in Paris proves, he’s actually pretty good in a quintessentially Allan-esque role. In fact, it’s quite pleasant to see the genial Texan play more than his usual laid back, lovable “dude”.

Wilson plays Gil, a successful screen writer who yearns for the artistic lifestyle of 1920s Paris. Ensconsed in a garret, or a plush house in the countryside, Gil just knows France would help him achieve his dream of writing that elusive first novel, the one he needs to prove to himself and everyone else he really is a writer, not just a Hollywood hack.

On holiday in the city of love with his spoilt fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her snobbish parents (Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller), a wine-soaked Gil takes a meandering walk one night and, lost at midnight, finds himself drawn into another, parallel dream world. Namely, he finds himself in the 1920s where literary legends such as Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), F Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) are waiting to welcome him into their heady, bohemian lifestyle.

As the focal point of the movie, Owen has a lot riding on his shoulders but he pulls it off with apparent ease, giving Gil an intensity, a self obsession that seems natural, intriguing and, surprisingly, quite engaging. McAdams and her folk, including cheesy friend Paul and his obsequious wife Carol (Michael Sheen and Nina Arianda), are presented as the boorish villains, all too ready to blame a  poor chambermaid when earrings go missing. Modern day horrors though they are, some of the best scenes are when this group are on screen, bickering yes but stealing all the laughs, raising wry smiles of recognition.

Of course, Midnight in Paris is more than just a study of people. Away from his beloved New York, director Allen offers us a picture postcard of a movie. From snapshots of modern day Paris to the glamour of the 20s and the smoky, gaslit Belle Epoque, each scene is as sumptuous as the next. While it is (thankfully) not quite the sacharrine capital city of Amelie, it is certainly a Paris you wish you could drop into uninvited, pop round for a glass of Absinthe and some scintillating conversation.

So a winner all round surely? And yet, not quite. All the right ingredients are there but somehow Gil’s 1920s lack true vibrancy. The setting are perfect, the colours deep and rich, each actor the idealized picture of their famous counterpart, embodying their mannerisms, their habits.  And as fake as Inez’s love. They are mere ciphers, in place only to prop up Gil’s literary ambitions, when you long to see these literary celebrities in their full, squabbling, drinking, debaucherous glory. Gil too, for someone entranced by the stories of the roaring 20s, seems happy with only a glimpse, a few measly sentences, a periphery presence in a tweed jacket. It is a shame because amongst this cast there is such talent, such opportunity, if only they were given the chance to shine for more than a few minutes.

It is no secret that Allen is best at the subtleties of humanity, the humour to be found in family bickering, snobbish judgements, lack of understanding. Here too, that is where the real laughs lie, golden moments such as Gil berating Inez’s father in a politely belligerent political rant. Contrarily, when Midnight in Paris strives too hard to be funny – the daft detective sideline – it is at its most irksome.

Then again, Midnight in Paris isn’t trying to be more than its parts, it isn’t trying to get us drunk on olde worlde splendour, nor make us laugh until our sides ache. It is trying to capture that essence, that joie de vivre which French comedies such as Priceless do so well, something fragile and soft, something which Hollywood romances so often fail to deliver.

Midnight in Paris is, simply, a beautiful movie, a whispery, summer romance that will be quickly forgotten but no less loved.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

In a nutshell: Camping it up with the gods of Asgard

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Some seriously dreadeful movies of late have, and I hate to admit it, made me  rather wary of the comic book based blockbuster. Sure, there’s been some good ones (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, X-Men Origins: Wolverine etc) – but amongst the jewels, there has also been a fair amount of shiny junk (Iron Man 2 anyone?). So, when I heard that Kenneth ‘Shakespeare’ Branagh was helming a new film based on the god of thunder and sometime super hero, the Mighty Thor (coupled with a frankly dreadful trailer) my hopes Thor was going to be worth the admission were low. And guess what? I was wrong.

Based on the Marvel comic story, Branagh’s Thor tells of a young and arrogant god prince (a bulked up Chris Hemsworth), who is banished to earth to learn humility by his kingly dad Odin (Anthony Hopkins) – leaving an opening for baddie brother Loki (a good turn from Tom Hiddleston) to step in and wreak some havoc. Can Thor save the day? Will his lady friend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) realise who he is? Will Thor take his top off again? Well, what do you think?

Let’s face it – can’t be easy to bring a golden haired, arrogant god-prince to the big screen. What with all that potential to be too serious, too stupid, too boring, too ridiculous, too complicated or just, simply, silly. It is a fine line and thankfully Branagh has achieved the right mix, injecting his Thor with some tongue in cheek humour, CGI which doesn’t look too CGI and a baddie with a nice tortured back story. He even gives a nod to Marvel’s old Iron Man himself, Tony Stark, when the giant Asgardian robot lands on earth to kill our hero (listen carefully folks).

That’s not to say Thor is without flaws – the love story is bit more miss than hit, The Warriors Three and Lady Sif look a tad too ludicrous when they land on earth and Thor doesn’t half find his humility and the love of his life quickly. All nit picking really. Sure, Thor won’t win any awards for its classic and intensely realistic tale of Norse mythology. It is what it is – a bit of camped up fun that may well remind you of the all out action blockbusters you enjoyed as a kid. Simply enjoy.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley