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Thor Review

RELEASED: 27 April 2011

Thor is an Avenger, but unlike shield wielding Captain America, or green beast Hulk, Thor is a Norse God, and fittingly, Kenneth Branagh brings us a film of epic proportions in Thor.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) discovers that it’s not easy to keep a cool temper when you’re the God of Thunder wielding a hammer you wont find on a B&Q shelf, especially when you’re confronted by Frost Giants attempting to steal the source of your realm’s power. After Thor unleashes his rage on the frozen beasts, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes him from Asgard (somehow I don’t think grounding him would have done the trick) and Thor lands on Earth. Like a fish out of water, Hemworth plays these scenes to comedic perfection, one time asking a pet shop for a horse, and next breaking loose out of a hospital. And even when Thor’s friends from Asgard come to help, it looks like a superhero convention has hit town.

On earth, Thor falls in love with researcher Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) whilst his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a jealous fit, decides to bring down Asgard and hand it to the Frost Giants. The relationships in Thor take a bit of time to get underway. Jane and Thor’s romance comes together quickly at the end and it never really feels like it was developing slowly. But when they are together, Portman and Hemsworth are a great pair, providing laughs as Foster tries to work Thor out, and they also provide a romance that will carry forward into Thor 2. The sibling rivalry too, didn’t exactly kick start. The problem is that Thor spends a lot of the film on Earth whilst Loki is in Asgard. They are worlds apart, literally. But again this relationship, brother to brother, is quite intense at the finale, as Thor has to contend with kicking his brother’s ass.

And kicking ass is definitely done well in Thor. Right from the off, the action does not disappoint as Thor’s hammer flies across in trademark style, smashing the Frost Giants to bits. And even when Thor loses his powers, he still manages to storm a camp full of special agents to retrieve his hammer. Mix this with some super teleportation technique from one realm to the next, and you get a film where the CGI is exciting and the action is electric.

Branagh has got the right mix in Thor, welding together some comedy and action, whilst hammering in some romance too. The prospect of The Avengers film becomes all the more tantalising now and our mouths are made to water with the teaser trailer at the end of Thor. But for now, Thor makes a thunderous debut to the realm of the big screen.

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Kick-Ass Sequel Needs New Team

After the surprise success of Kick-Ass, there is certainly no surprise that there is a shout for a sequel. But Mark Millar, one of the co-creators of the Kick-Ass comic books has revealed that the team making the sequel may not be the same.

“The thing about the first movie is that it kind of exploded all our careers. So everybody involved suddenly got hired for a million different things, and re-forming the band again would be impossible”, Millar told the L.A. Times.

He continued, “getting Matthew [Vaughn] to direct or Jane [Goldman] to write a movie at this budget would be very difficult because they’re superstars now and they have projects of their own.”

Vaughn teamed up with Goldman for X-Men: First Class which had great success. But both are now working on new projects.

Millar also expressed concerns over the age of the cast, “there’s a window because the actors are all supposed to be in high school and if this came out after 2013, for example, that window would have closed.”

Vaughn has a knack for making these superhero movies that are actually quite good and it would be a shame for him not to reprise the role.

But it is not all doom and gloom for the prospect of a Kick-Ass sequel as Millar cheekily remarks, “I obviously know more than I can say”. Hopefully that means something kick ass is in the pipeline.

Who would you like to see directing the Kick-Ass sequel?

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Smoovie Spinback: Kick-Ass Review

KICK ASS: Released 26 March 2010

Don’t knock it til’ you’ve tried it because Kick-Ass sure as hell wont disappoint. It isn’t some superhero spoof film plastered with embarrassingly poor jokes and slapstick action (although a little never hurts), but a visually impressive, revitalising take on the high school film genre, crossing Superbad and Kill Bill with a tint of Sin City and a nod towards the plethora of superhero movies of recent times. Spearheaded by daring director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake), Kick-Ass is a well thought out, darkly funny and explosively exciting, action comedy.

If you were a superhero, what super power would you have? Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), comic book buff (or nerd), would answer “none”. Apparently you don’t need to get a spider bite to become a superhero nowadays, all you need is the internet to order a green ninja costume and a never say die heart, and voila, we have Kick-Ass. After gaining internet fame with his vigilante antics, Kick-Ass attracts the attention of mobster boss, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) who wants him killed. His son, Chris D’Amico (Superbad’s McLovin’, Christopher Mintz-Plasse) becomes villain Red Mist in an attempt to bring down the man in green. Lucky for the powerless Kick-Ass, superhero tag team Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) combine some swish moves that would make The Avengers green with envy.

Big Daddy is the kind of dad that would shoot you at point blank range to toughen you up and then take you for an ice cream to show his appreciation of your achievement, and I kid you not, he actually does that. The relationship marked by such tenderness is one of the great successes of Kick-Ass. As individuals also, these two hold their own. Cage brings the dead-pan comedy, whilst 13 year old Moretz steals the show, f’ing and blinding her way through the film, showing great versatility, dropping the C word one moment, then displaying great depth in emotion as well as comedic flare. In fact, the whole cast joined well, and glasses must certainly be raised to the writing combo of Vaughn, Jane Goldman and comic book creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.

Not only are the characters vibrant, but director Vaughn makes Kick-Ass a pleasure on the eye. It’s the way this film pays homage to the comic book and video game that tickles the fancy. Blood spurting out of bodies, action speeding up and slowing down, night vision and a slick battle sequence lit by pulsating strobe lights kept the film pumped with energy. Vaughn expertly delivers this Tarantino-esque violence, all the while reminding us of the high school context of the plot. Kick-Ass has a crush on out of his league girl Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) who thinks he is gay and the love story plays out along these lines. Vaughn is clearly the perfect bartender, shaking up a cocktail that will make you shout Woo Woo.

Kick-Ass is not farcical or crude, but refreshing and daring. It moves from one mood to the other, flying through the realm of emotions, but steered on the right course by Vaughn. Certainly not the film I was anticipating Kick-Ass to be, but the unpredictability of it, surpassed my expectation, making it a pleasurable surprise indeed.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER: Released 29 July 2011

World War Two infused with a star-spangled superhero, laser beams and plans for world domination can only mean one thing: a new Marvel comic film adaptation. Explosive and romantic all at once, Captain America: The First Avenger is certainly one of the best of Marvel’s class of 2011, up with X-Men: First Class and Thor.

Scrawny but determined, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to enter the US army despite numerous rejections, but a chance run into Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), puts Rogers in line to become the chief lab rat for Erskine’s Project Rebirth to create a superhuman army. After proving his courage, Rogers is injected with the serum that transforms his skinny body into a herculean frame. Meanwhile, crazy Nazi scientist Johann Schmidt A.K.A The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) is creating weapons to wipe out major cities in the world. After initially being used as a cheap propaganda trick, Rogers, now Captain America comes to the rescue of his comrades in the pursuit to stop Schmidt.

Director Joe Johnston offers us a mouth-watering visual spectacle blending sci-fi with a 40’s backdrop, spaceships and tanks, lasers and bullets. In classic superhero style, Captain America has no problem storming a weapons factory by himself, and no matter how far fetched, the scenes were fast, exciting and always sweetened by the Captain’s trademark shield throw.

But Captain America: The First Avenger doesn’t just rely on firepower. Comedic moments courtesy of Tucci, and the romantic flame between the Cap and stern but sexy Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), means the film offers other dimensions. The romance is fiery as Atwell and Evans click well – obviously her interest in him has nothing to do with his god-like physique – but it is clear that the Captain has a thing for girls in uniform.

Plot-wise the film is a little shakier. Starting off in a fluid manner, Captain America lays the foundation and was set to charge on, but quickly begins to trip over its own bootlaces. The action becomes choppy, and jumped around too much making it difficult to follow at times. And as soon as the film jumps forward some 70 years, you lose the characters that the whole film has built up. There is also the sense that you need to be a bit clued up on comic books to understand some of the aspects, such as the blue glowing cube (of some sort of immense power), or who Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is in relation to the Captain, although a cheeky trailer for the new Avengers film sheds some light, if you can wait until the end credits finish.

One has to expect a fair sprinkling of cheese over a superhero movie, but handled right, and this can create some of the funnier moments where a film pokes fun at itself. The problem with Captain America is that these instances aren’t played up enough and those moments of potential cheese, become very cringy, and instead of poking fun at itself, the film seems to take these lines and scenes all too seriously.

But these shortcomings do not interfere too much with a film that ultimately has enough flare, romance, bad guys and swish action to leave you feeling fulfilled, excited and ready for Marvel’s next superhero crew, The Avengers.

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The Rise of the Film Prequel

With the upsurge of movie prequels in recent times, one must be asking: has Hollywood become a barren wasteland, devoid of any new ideas, or is there a genuine attraction to film prequels?

X-Men is the first franchise that springs to mind when talking about prequels. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) tracks the making of Hugh Jackman into sideburn clad, claw handed mutant (those sideburns are definitely abnormal). X-Men: First Class (2011) goes back to explain the formation of the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto. In both these films, there is certainly the “oh I get it now” factor after having seen the previous X-Men films. Like a jigsaw, things start to fall into place after watching a prequel. Stories are explained and it sheds new light on older films, sometimes even making you re-watch that film.

There are some films where you are begging for another dose. The only failing of the Lord of the Ring Triology was that there wasn’t a forth and fifth, so the announcement of a two part Hobbit film was certainly a welcomed announcement for another injection of Middle Earth fantasy. It is a chance to see favourite characters and trademark film styles once more, reinvented and reworked.

As seen with X-Men, the Superhero genre is one where the prequel is gaining ground. The Amazing Spider-man scheduled for release next year takes a look at the creation of Spiderman. But instead of seeing the same faces and styles again, The Amazing Spider-man has a new cast with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) playing the swinging superhero. It is an attempt to rejuvenate the Spider-man franchise and even though the story has been told regarding Spider-man’s creation, there appears to be a need to retell it. We will have to wait until 2012 to see whether that will be successful or not.

There is without doubt a market for movie prequels, to reinvent franchises, relive older films, and to put things in place, and whilst some of these prequels have found success, it will be interesting to see what Hollywood comes up with when they go out of fashion.

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Ra.One Preview: King Khan Turns Superhero

Science fiction is certainly not one of the prominent genres in the romance filled world of Bollywood cinema, but the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, is looking to change that fact with his new and ambitious film Ra.One, directed by Anubhav Sinha.

Details of the plotline are not clear as of yet, however, King Khan has put his crown aside to don the metallic grey suit of his superhero character, G1. The romance, as always is present with the love interest being Kareena Kapoor.

Khan says that all can enjoy Ra.One since it is, “a father-son love story. It’s a family entertainer like most of my films are, and is meant for kids and adults alike,” he told the Times of India.

The film certainly looks like a blockbuster, with a massive budget and stunning visuals, Ra.One is set to challenge the Hollywood superhero films.

“There is a Superman, Spiderman or an Iron man in the west. So I wanted an Indian superhero. With Ra-One I have taken a chance,” says King Khan.

Ra.One looks to be charging in the right direction as triple platinum selling R&B artist Akon has made a track for the film entitled Chamak Chalo.

Khan has certainly gambled with a film that looks to be out of the realms of Bollywood, but Ra.One flies forward with great optimism and looks ready to soar.