Thor Ragnarok


Viewed – 13 March 2017  Blu-ray

I had heard a lot of good things about this and confess to really enjoying the Thor character and the lore surrounding him, even if I like many was underwhelmed by the last solo Thor outing, Dark World.  In this third instalment, sandwiched somewhere between Avengers: Age of Ultron and the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is captured by a demonic being who is said to bring about Ragnarok, the end of days for Thor’s home world of Asgard.  However he sets about preventing this only to return home and find step-brother Loki up to his old tricks again, this time impersonating their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  However a turn of events brings another family member out of exile in the shape of Hella (Cate Blanchett) who vows to claim her rightful place on the thrown of Asgard even if it means killing everyone who stands in her way.

Thor Ragnarok

It would be easy for me to yawn at this plot, it being yet another Marvel disgraced family member coming out of the woodwork and vowing revenge against those that shunned him (or her).  It was done in the previous Thor movies and also (spoiler!) Black Panther, that it’s now getting very tired.  Thankfully then that isn’t the entire focus of this movie.  Oh no, firstly the dialogue is particularly sharp, with very funny banter from various characters, especially a wonderful, awkward buddy set up between Thor and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  Add to this great support from Jeff Goldblum as the other-worldly ‘grand master’, several quirky side characters (the hilarious rock dude) and of course a still brilliant Tom Hilddleston as Loki – and this was just great entertainment throughout.  The movie treads a careful balancing act between all out comedic farce and straight up action adventure, but somehow manages it, and even if Cate Blanchett’s villain is a walking cliché, the actress usual screen presence and charisma stands out and has such a cool design, familiarity can be forgiven in this instance.

It’s often better when these kinds of movies don’t take themselves too seriously, whilst still managing to deliver great action, memorable characters and gob-smacking spectacle.  This is one such example. Highly recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

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Cinderella


Viewed – 12 September 2015  Pay-Per-View

Did we really need another telling of this classic fairy tale?  I think most people are familiar with the story; a girl named Ella (Cinderella) finds herself living with a wicked step mother and two cruel step sisters after her natural parents die.  However a chance encounter with a charming (ahem) prince soon see’s her fortunes changing for the better, with a little help from a fairy godmother.

Cinders

Disney’s new adaptation of the classic story is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars relative newcomer Lily James as Ella and Cate Blanchett as her stepmother Lady Tremaine.  This proved fun and has several stand out moments (the ballroom dance, the race to get home before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin) and is for the most part done very well.  Acting is a tad over the top with a disappointingly hammy Blanchett coming across a little too cartoony, and those stepsisters I just wanted to slap.  Helena Bonham Carter also appears as the fairy godmother, and like Blanchet is very caricature and silly.  Thankfully then Game Of Thrones’ Richard Madden as the Prince is just the right side of charming without coming across as cheesy.  Lily James starts out sugar-coated sweet but develops some real depth as her fortunes deteriorate and dreams are shattered … and proved a much more interesting character than say, Elle Fanning’s Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent.

princeBrannagh fills the movie with gorgeous (albeit CGI-loaded) locations and some excellent set design and costumes, making for a real visual treat.  Yet I was hoping for something that warranted this being done again, but with a reliance on cartoon-like performances and slapstick humour we get very little we didn’t see in the 1950 Disney classic, amongst other versions.   A missed opportunity.

For a new audience this is still decent, feel-good entertainment, but for anyone familiar with the story, approach this more as a re-visit than a re-imagining.  It’s no Snow White and the Huntsman.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Top Ten Actors


That I’d watch in pretty much anything.

Inspired from a post over at Where The Wild Things Are and then also at Cinema Parrot Disco, I have chosen to compile the idea from both male and female ‘actors’ rather than doing separate lists… mainly because I was struggling with ten for actresses without being swayed by their attractive qualities…it’s a bloke thing.

Emma Stone

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Favourite movie:  Easy A

Leonardo DiCaprio

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Favourite movie:  Catch Me If You Can

Christoph Waltz

christoph waltz

Favourite movie:  Inglorious Basterds

Marianne Cotillard

Marianne Cotillard

Favourite movie:  Inception

Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P.)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Favourite movie:  Almost Famous

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Favourite movie:  Boogie Nights

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Favourite movie:  Born of the Fourth of July

Edward Norton

Edward Norton

Favourite movie:  Fight Club

Samuel L Jackson

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Favourite movie:  Pulp Fiction

Cate Blanchett

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Favourite movie:  Blue Jasmine

There are many more, but these are the ones I tend to find myself watching regardless of what role they are in, and the movies mentioned above are the roles I have most enjoyed them in, not necessarily their best.  For actors I tend to avoid…the list is shorter, but I’m not a fan of Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and to an extent … Ben Affleck.

86th Academy Awards


So the Academy Awards has been and gone and did I take much interest?  Not really.  Awards ceremonies over the years have returned increasingly diminishing results,oscar I mean isn’t it all just about what movie has the best PR??  Many movies, many very good movies have often not even got a nomination, let alone had a chance at winning – and the ones that do?  Not always very deserving.  Looking at the results below, I would say it’s been a fairly predictable year.  12 Years A Slave getting best picture?  Considering the subject matter it was a simple choice, probably hitting home more than Captain Phillips.  Cate Blanchet was very good in Blue Jasmine, even if it seemed a very academy-friendly performance.  Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and The Wolf Of Wall Street never stood a chance – too much tits & coke.  Oh and who didn’t see the technical and directing nods going to Gravity?  That movie’s marketing campaign was all about the experience, the visuals etc.

Yet I mainly haven’t taken an interest in this year’s awards (or awards season) as simply put, I haven’t seen a great majority of the movies nominated, so difficult to really give an opinion.  I hope to see Dallas Buyers Club at some stage, because of being a growing fan of Matthew McConaughey and Gravity is on my list for the near future (look out for a review sometime this weekend).  So I will leave you with this year’s main winners, a few of the smaller categories omitted, because really, who concerns themselves with those?

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Animated Feature

Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Best Cinematography

Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best Directing

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Best Foreign Language Film

The Great Beauty (Italy)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


Viewed – 18 December 2012  Cinema

Of all the movies released in 2012, this was my most anticipated.  I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, particularly the movie trilogy, and despite some reservations regarding this adaptation of the much loved book, from the dropping out of Guillermo Del Toro to the spreading of the adaptation over three movies  … what I witnessed last night has put (almost) all such fears to rest.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is called upon by long time friend and famed wizard Gandalf to embark on an adventure with a band of dwarves, to journey to the lonely mountain and reclaim a desecrated kingdom back from an infamous dragon.   Of course Bilbo not being much of a hero (at this stage) is reluctant to join the quest, but is soon setting off in search of Orcs, Trolls and a bountiful treasure.  Immediately I was transported back to the franchise I had watched in such awe years ago (and revisited on Blu-ray), with grand spectacle, stunning set design and beautiful New Zealand landscapes bringing to life Middle Earth equally as well as before.  I’ll admit to not exactly understanding why Bilbo would even be involved in such a suicide mission with folks he has nothing in common with, just because a wizard pushes him into it … and the immediacy and importance apparent in the Rings trilogy, seemed absent.  That being said the characters (including a trio of comedy trolls), wealth of imagination and truly epic battles and confrontations, quickly glossed over such quibbles.

This first foray into a new saga in the J.R.R. Tolkien universe felt as good as I could have expected, may be a tad lightweight, but has more than enough personality and jaw-dropping spectacle to make it worth your time.  Oh and that hefty 2hrs 45 minutes run time flew by.  Martin Freeman is well cast as Bilbo, different enough from Elijah Wood’s Frodo (pointless cameo aside) to give the new trilogy its own identity, and with quality support from the brilliant Sir Ian McKellen as well as the likes of James Nesbitt, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett – this Middle Earth fan-boy was grinning from ear to ear.  Director Peter Jackson promised big things with this new entry, and although I’m predicting the best is yet to come – I’m happy to say this still delivered.  Bring on The Hobbit: part 2!!

Verdict:  4 /5