Tag Archive: Idris Elba

Thor-1Thor was by far the hardest Avenger to establish. A cosmic, God, alien, immortal being was always going a hard one to make relate-able to audience’s. Despite some weak points concerning style, Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 outing for the Asgardian Avenger proved successful, with a spot-on Chris Hemsworth and a eye-catching Tom Hiddleston proving to be chief amongst the films’ strengths. Since the release of that first outing, a huge fandom has formed around both Hemsworth and Hiddleston, down to their charm, good looks, and genuine talent. It’s amazing the amount that that fandom has grown to, over the course of only two movies. Now the time has come for the opportunity to focus more on this pairing, and truly have fun within this world that has already been established. Why then, does The Dark World seem to stumble at nearly every turn?

With the nine realms in chaos following the actions of Loki (Hiddleston) on Earth, Thor (Hemsworth) has been kept busy restoring order to the world’s he protects. All the while, physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been searching for the means to reconnect with the Asgardian following their romantic encounter in New Mexico. However, her investigation leads her to unwittingly awaken a dark evil long thought gone in the form of Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston) and his army of Dark Elves. Malekith, fueled with revenge from defeat thousands of years ago, will stop at nothing to throw all of the realms into darkness through the power of an ancient force known as the Aether. With destruction inevitable, Thor turns to help in the most unlikely of forms, his incarcerated and embittered step-brother Loki. Thor-2

The problem with The Dark World is its inability to carry through with narrative promise, or to build a significant amount of tension towards a satisfying finale. There is great potential here, yet most of the interesting developments that could take place are never fully exploited. A love triangle between Thor, Jane, and Sif is drifted over as quickly as it is suggested, while Malekith never feels like a true threat due to so little time dedicated to clarifying his motives and letting the extremely talented Eccleston craft a character. Too much time is given to characters who are undeserving of it, such as Kat Denning’s Darcy and her intern Ian. Designed as ‘comic relief’ the pair are responsible for some of the most cringe-worthy moments in the movie, and simply aggravate whenever they are on the screen.

Director Alan Taylor, a regular on the likes of Game of Thrones and Mad Men, clearly revels in the darker corners of the material, relishing in the design of Malekith and his forces, as well as establishing a much more gritty and Earthy aesthetic to what Kenneth Branagh delivered back in 2011. The action feels much more real, while the weaponry design is much more organic and less sci-fi than one would expect. Yet, he seems to struggle in making everything seem cinematic. This film feels like the work of a TV director. There is an air of cheapness to the proceedings, from the rushed visual effects to the general tone, particularly in the first half hour (which feels more like an episode of Doctor Who than it does a multi-million dollar Marvel movie).

Taylor does manage to impress in a number of sequences around the middle section of the movie when the action does kick into gear and the pacing begins to charge full gallop. Basically when shit goes down. An aerial assault on Asgard hits the action beats with efficiency, and the resulting memorial scene is handled with delicacy and is Thor-3surprisingly very moving, in large part thanks to Brina Taylor’s spine-chilling score. The film also grows in strength once Thor and Loki eventually team up. The script is up to par in these moments, as the verbal sparring between the two Gods remains witty, sharp, and wholly entertaining. It is a shame then that these moments don’t last longer, as the climax stumbles over its own feet and replaces the opportunity to establish credible threat with the chance to throw in a gag or a cheesy one-liner. The horribly convenient plot developments, goofy tone and gaping plot holes destroy all sense of tension and completely negates the work done by Eccleston in at least trying to make his villain memorable.

The performances range from confident to lazy. Hemsworth proves himself worthy once again, ably carrying the film on his well formed charismatic shoulders. Likewise, Hiddleston earns his paycheck with another trickster performance, managing to captivate even when he spends most of his screen-time stuck in a prison cell. Natalie Portman seems frustrated within her role as Jane Foster, who is reverted to a mere damsel in distress. But she’s intelligent. So that makes it ok? Elsewhere, Anthony Hopkins seems incredibly bored as Odin, while it’s great to see Rene Russo given much more to do this time around as Thor’s mother, and a good does of gravitas is supplied by the man mountain that is Idris Elba.

This is the first time since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel that a film from under the Marvel Studio’s banner has been felt like it has been significantly tampered with. It is no secret that this film had a troubled production, with Thor-4re-shoots taking place as late as August, the ending in particularly feels incredibly slapped on at the last minute. Hopefully this will not be the case when The Avengers: Age of Ultron comes around in 2015. This film was directed by a man that the studio very much felt they could over-rule at any turn, Joss Whedon is the man who just made them $1.4 billion, he is in a position of power. Likewise, Iron Man 3 felt like a Shane Black movie because he is a film-maker with a distinct talent and voice, and one who would not let anyone compromise his vision. Stubbornness works wonders in the film industry. Taylor unfortunately is a director yet to establish a voice, and this film lacks a creative personality. Simply because there was no one vision. Thor: The Dark World marks the first time that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has felt like a brand and nothing more. And it also marks the first time that I have been genuinely worried about the future of this franchise.

2/5- Inconsistent and only occasionally exciting, The Dark World is a worrying disappointment that lacks the personality and screenwriting smarts of previous Marvel outings. Unworthy to say the least.


Pacific Rim- 1Guillermo del Toro, the maestro behind such creature features as Cronos, Mimic, the Hellboy franchise and Pan’s Labyrinthis a man who is no stranger to the cinematic beastie. Not only do his films often feature bright and inspired creature designs amongst their characters, from the wise to the nightmarishly ugly, del Toro is also a self-proclaimed fan of the genre, namely the Japanese brand of  monster movies known as the ‘Kaiju’ genre. From this love of the genre del Toro was inspired to make his own ‘Kaiju’ movie that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Honda’s Godzilla (definitely not Emmerich’s). A genre that lacks sophistication, some may say, is developed into something truly unique in the hands of del Toro, as Pacific Rim thoroughly delivered on my hopes of both of a film that would both cater to the summer blockbuster need of gleeful destruction and offer audiences a little bit more to produce what could be the best movie of the summer.

Set in the year 2020, the people of planet Earth have been dealing with an onslaught of attacks from strange, large, and incredibly dangerous inter-dimensional beings known as the ‘Kaiju’, who enter our world through a rift in the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean. In order to tackle the threat of the Kaiju, the nations of the world pulled all their resources together to create Jaegers; giant robots designed to combat the Kaiju. With two compatible pilots, linking together through a memory link known as ‘The Drift’, the Jaeger forces soon begin to show result, with victory even in sight. However, as soon as it looks like the human race was close to victory, the Kaiju attack in larger numbers and with more ferocious force. With the Jaeger program being forced out of action, Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) plans a final assault that could well see the end of the Kaiju attacks. In order to see that the plan succeeds, PACIFIC RIMPentecost must pull together the best Jaeger pilots he has ever seen. One such pilot is Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), who has not been in a Jaeger since the death of his brother. In order to enter back into the Jaeger, he needs to find a compatible partner in time before the Kaiju launch an assault of their own.

On the surface, Pacific Rim should be a film which doesn’t take you by surprise. There is certainly nothing original on face value. We’ve seen giant robots in many a Hollywood action picture (namely directed by Michael Bay) and we’ve seen monsters before. Nothing should feel fresh. Yet, despite this, Pacific Rim holds many surprises in a well-worn genre while creating a world that is unique and exciting. del Toro has always been a master at constructing a world in lavish, bright, colourful, yet seeped in a sinister coating, and Pacific Rim is no different. Filled with nasty beasties, gross gooey innards, eccentric characters, and big hulking behemoths of metal, the details of Pacific Rim feel carefully and lovingly crafted, a feeling that is very lacking in many Hollywood blockbuster pictures.

del Toro is not afraid to both feed you your expectations of this kind of genre while also supplying you with enough surprises to keep you guesing. The biology and the mechanics of both the Kaiju and Jaeger’s is exceptional and thoroughly thought out; time and craft has been given to the design of the workings of these creatures and to the robotic creations made to combat them. The action as well is well though out as well as delivering incredible and epic popcorn entertainment. Every punch, every hit, every move made by a Jaeger is heavy and mechanical, you feel the human strain and are made constantly aware of the human effort that goes into operating the hulking great pieces of machinery. Impressive effects works brings del Toro’s creations to life, and practical prosthetics bring the guts to brilliant glory. He also constructs a gritty and organic aesthetic through the design of the barracks and ss-kh-00609rcrobots; this isn’t fresh bright and clean like the decks of the enterprise, this is an Earth ravaged by war and using all its resources to fight back, not on making everything clean and luxurious.

The script also ticks many boxes in regards to the Summer blockbuster checklist, and the dialogue is most certainly the weakest part of this film. It is certainly cheesy, but the most perfect Hollywood cheese that you would want from a robot-fighting monsters movie; memorably quotable, ridiculous, and fist-pumpingly awesome, while also being a script that is not afraid to kill off its characters. The cast revel in the cheese factor, the most part of them playing well-worn stereotypes with great zest and likeability. Charlie Hunnam’s traditional good looks make him a rather bland leading man, reminding me a great deal of Garrett Hedlund of Tron Legacy fame; component but not wholly interesting, but more than capable of carrying the film on his shoulders. Idris Elba turns in a performance of gusto and bravada, certainly having fun with the stirring speeches that he is given. Rinko Kikuchi turns in a sweet and tender performance as young pilot Mako, who has suffered great personal loss to the claws of the Kaiju. The supporting performances contain some of the strongest of the film, most notably Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the two scientist in charge of working out how best to tackle the Kaiju, and Ron Pearlman’s brief appearance as a Kaiju Organ dealer by the name of Hannibal Chau (everyone has awesome names in this movie).

Pacific Rim has turned out to be one of those truly great and awe-inspiring summer blockbusters which act as a capsule into a Pacific Rim- 4brilliant world filled with hugely likeable characters, heart pounding and involving action sequences, spurred on by the suitably stirring score from Ramin Djawadi. Those who have written this film off as a Bay-esque experience, please, for the love of God, be rid of those thoughts and go and experience a true summer blockbuster experience. It is bad enough that this movie lost to Grown Ups 2 this weekend in the states (to you, our cousins from across the pond, SHAME on you! SHAME!), Pacific Rim is a movie that deserves to do huge business. It is a huge movie and it deserves nothing less. It deserves to be a hit. It has been quite sometime since I’ve seen a film that has so organically established a world within what appears to be familiar territory and made it its own. Immeasurably fun, alive with creativity, some of the best action I’ve seen this summer, and a tongue-in-cheek tone to boot. Guillermo del Toro has does the Kaiju genre proud, and I for one am incredibly grateful. Now go bare witness to the cancelling of the apocalypse!

5/5- The perfect Hollywood blockbuster in del Toro packaging! Incredibly fun, terrifically exciting, and wondrously imaginative. Pure escapism.