The First Avengers trailer is live…

In the past with this site, I have largely focussed on reviews of new and old films, with rarely a focus on what is happening in the future.   I am going to break trend today, and review a trailer.   Why?   Well, this trailer happens to be for the film that I have anticipated the most ever since the Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded.

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Thor – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddlestone, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Clark Gregg, Jeremy Renner, Stan Lee

Synopsis: This film continues the run of Marvel Comics films that are building to the release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers next year.   Loosely based on Norse mythology, Thor, son of Odin, is banished from Asgard to Midgard (Earth), following his brash actions that threaten the realm now with war.   He is stranded here until such time as he can be worthy to once again wield the power of his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

A review by Film Nerd.

Anyone who may follow this blog would be well aware of the level of fandom I have for Marvel comics and the films adapted from them.   As such, you may be prepared for an entirely biased review of this particular film, and you would be absolutely right.   For me, this film was a nerdgasm waiting to happen, ever since the first sight of Mjolnir following the closing credits of Iron Man 2.

Thor as the headline character of his own film was always a prospect I approached with trepidation.   When I was an avid comic reader, I only really followed him as a member of the Avengers, if anything.   It is a very difficult character to get a grasp of, always speaking in Ye Olde English, and having an almost antiquated sense of nobility.   The fact he is a god made him pretty cool, but I was never sure of his film potential.   As such, Kenneth Branagh could not have been a better choice to bring him to the big screen.   Being himself familiar with more antiquated drama such as Shakespeare, he was able to put together a film that provides entertainment without necessarily drifting into the area of farce.   A wise choice was to discard the Old English, yet keeping the flavour with an English accent for the realm of Asgard.   I had also read in interviews that Branagh recognised themes common between this story and Shakespeare, such as the corruption that comes with power and relationships between parent and child.   It is when these themes are focussed on in the film that it is at its strongest.

The film is not without flaws.   Despite Portman’s talent, the love story developed between her Jane and Hemsworth’s Thor does feel somewhat forced, as well as a little rushed.   Okay, so the point is he learns maturity and compassion through his dealings with humans, but I feel this could have been achieved by introducing some mutual interest that would be allowed to simmer.   The simple fact is with everything else going on, the romance itself does not need acting on.   However, if this is my only quibble with the film, I admit it is a minor one, and something needs to be there to please that half of the crowd that is more interested in Hemsworth’s abs than they are the development of the Marvel Universe on film.

The performances are uniformly brilliant.   Hemsworth does have real charisma, in addition to the bulk he gained to look the part.   Following his breakthrough role on the international market with Star Trek, he is building a very strong CV.   Portman as always is lovely,and errors in scripting cannot take away from her on-screen allure.   Hopkins as Odin brings a gravitas to proceedings, and introduces a depth to the father-son relationship that may have been lacking in a lesser actor.   Hiddlestone’s Loki also successfully walked the very fine line as the double-dealing half-brother,showing how the character could take so many in without appearing immediately slimy and self-interested.   The remaining cast introduces some more fun and humour.   Also keep eyes open for a few cameo appearances, the big hint being to stay after the credits once again.

As far as comic adaptations go, this is one of the better ones, and I was more than once stupidly grinning in the big action scenes.   The romance detracts somewhat from the rest of the story, but otherwise this is a brilliant popcorn flick that should entertain most audiences.

4 stars out of 5


Thor on IMDB

Thor on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOddp-nlNvQ]

Dogma – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette

Synopsis: The Catholic Church is looking to revamp its image, instituting an event permitting the forgiveness of all sins.   Two angels exiled from heaven take this as an opportunity to be forgiven and re-enter heaven.   However, if they succeed, it will make the demands of God void, and as such spell the end of all existence.

A review by Film Nerd.

At the time of its release, Dogma was considered a very controversial film… a comedy about Catholic Faith which represents the clergy as exceedingly foolish.   To those that took this perception, though essentially being very accurate, have missed an even deeper message that this film is trying to convey.

This is the fourth film in Kevin Smith’s View Askew production series, that began with Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy, and that was followed by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II.   Aside from Smith directing, and many of the lead cast returning from various films in each of these to play different roles, the one clear connective thread in this series are Jay and Silent Bob, here cast as “prophets” to help guide Fiorentino’s Bethany on her heaven-sent quest to prevent two exiled angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), once again gaining access to heaven and ending existence.

The plot sounds pretty heavy, but it is shot in the same tone as the other comedy’s in this series, with big ideas conveyed with buffoonery and a great sense of fun.   Bethany is the straight guy in the proceedings, surrounded by absurd characters.   She receives the quest from the Metatron, the angel that acts as the voice of God, and delivered in Rickman’s unique tones.   He is a character full of sarcasm, especially as he is not permitted to imbibe alcohol after Bartleby and Loki’s drinking antics that got them expelled from heaven initially.   Jay and Silent Bob have already been mentioned, and are no different from any of their other outings, so fans of that schtick, like myself, can sit back and enjoy.   Chris Rock is as ever brilliant, playing the thirteenth disciple, the one that was never mentioned in the bible because he was black.   For me the real surprise of this film when I first saw it was Affleck and Damon.   The shine had started to wear off of their run post-Good Will Hunting, but here they do show the depths they have to offer, Affleck included, putting the viewer in the position of wishing to see them defeated, but also completely understanding why they are willing to go to such lengths.

If easily offended, especially in matters of faith, it is nor worth your time seeing this through, given that it is very irreverent.   If you are curious on another perspective on faith, however, this film has something for you.   As in the end, this film is actually not against people having a system of Faith, the source of its satire being more specifically organised religion.   So of course the Catholic clergy would be concerned about their patrons viewing it…

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Dogma on IMDB

Dogma on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20CRw3XdETA]