Archive for Natalie Portman

Jane Got a Gun

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jane Hammond has built a new life with her husband Bill “Ham” Hammond after being tormented by the Bishop Boys gang. She finds herself in the gang’s crosshairs once again when Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after dueling with the Boys and their relentless leader, John Bishop. With the vengeful crew hot on Ham’s trail, Jane has nowhere to turn but to her former fiancé Dan Frost for help in defending her family against certain death. Haunted by old memories, Jane’s past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival.

What people are saying:

“A silly movie with a poor cast–Natalie Portman is not good in this “Western.” She and a former beau are able to hold off a dozen outlaws? Don’t waste your time.” 2 stars

“Hollywood has forgotten how to do a decent western. Sub par acting with a lame, contrived story.” 1 1/2 stars

“The movie had a lot of trouble being made from changing multiple directors, delays, and shifting around roles. Which becomes apparent throughout the movie. All the actors do a very good job to keep the movie relevant though. Even with good performances the movie never able to overcome its troubled past. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Not just confusing, predictable and mis-sold as a feminist film, the calamity that is Jane Got A Gun is hobbled by the dullest of plots.” 2 stars

“Slow and tedious with the worst sound editing I can ever recall. An hour and thirty-eight minutes that seems like a lifetime. Those shot in this western suffered less than we who watched it.” 1 star

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Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eons ago, Bor, the father of Odin, clashes with the Dark Elf Malekith, who seeks to destroy the universe using a weapon known as the Aether. After conquering Malekith’s forces, including enhanced warriors called the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Bor safeguards the Aether within a stone column. Unbeknownst to him, Malekith, his lieutenant Algrim, and a handful of Dark Elves escape into suspended animation.

In present-day Asgard, Loki stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor, alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg and Sif repel marauders on Vanaheim, home of their comrade Hogun; it is the final battle in a war to pacify the Nine Realms following the reconstruction of Bifröst, the “Rainbow Bridge” between realms, which had been destroyed two years earlier. In London, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster’s intern, Darcy Lewis, now with her own intern, Ian, takes Jane to an abandoned factory where objects have begun to disobey the laws of physics and disappear into thin air. Separating from the group, Jane is teleported to another world, where she is infected by the Aether.

The Asgardians learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random. Heimdall alerts Thor of Jane’s recent disappearance, leading Thor to search for her. When she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, he takes her to Asgard. There, Asgardian healers say they do not know how to treat her. Odin, recognizing the Aether, warns Jane’s infection will kill her given enough time, and that the Aether’s return heralds a catastrophic prophecy.

Malekith, awakened by the Aether’s release, turns Algrim into a Kursed and attacks Asgard. During the battle, Malekith and Algrim search for Jane, knowing she contains the Aether. When they fail to capture her, they escape, killing Thor’s mother, Frigga. Despite Odin’s orders not to leave Asgard, Thor reluctantly teams up with Loki, who knows of a secret portal to Malekith’s world, where they will use Jane to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. In return, Thor promises Loki that he can have his revenge on Malekith for killing their mother. With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor and Loki commandeer a Dark Elf spaceship and escape to Svartalfheim with Jane.

On Svartalfheim, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane. However, Thor’s attempt to destroy the substance fails, and the Aether-empowered Malekith leaves with his ship as Loki appears to be fatally wounded while killing Algrim. Thor, cradling Loki in his arms, promises to tell their father of his sacrifice. Following Loki’s apparent death, Thor and Jane discover another portal in a nearby cave and reunite in London with Jane’s mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki’s attack on Earth — as well as with Darcy and Ian. They learn that Malekith plans to unleash the Aether to destroy the universe, and that he will do this in Greenwich, the center of the Convergence. Thor battles Malekith, but a portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed. Thor comes back in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is killed before he can destroy the universe.

Thor returns to Asgard, where he declines Odin’s offer to take the throne and tells Odin of Loki’s sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin’s form transforms to that of a grinning Loki.

In a mid-credits scene, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector and entrust the Aether to his care, commenting that, with the Tesseract already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones so close together would be dangerous. As they leave, the Collector remarks, “One down, five to go.” In a post-credits scene, Jane and Thor reunite on Earth, while somewhere in London a frost monster from Jotunheim, accidentally transported to Earth during the final battle, continues to run amok.

REVIEW:

One thing that has come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the increased attention to certain characters that weren’t known as well, such as Iron Man and the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man. Also, they have brought respect to characters that has become nothing but a joke, such as Thor (need I remind you of Adventures in Babysitting)? Thor: The Dark World brings the breakout star of the MCU into a darker tale, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless.

What is this about?

The God of Thunder strikes again as he fights to save the Nine Realms from mysterious villain Malekith, who plans to make the entire universe go dark. Meanwhile, Thor must find Jane Foster, who’s been targeted by the evil denizens of Svartalfheim.

What did I like?

Loki. Talk about a breakout star, if you look up that definition in the dictionary, you’re sure to find a picture of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. This summer, there was a clip of him at San Diego Comic-Con where he was hamming it up and the crowd was going wild. He obviously loves this character, but the time will come when audiences will grow weary of him. In preparation for this day, they kept Loki in the film, but pulled him back immensely.

Girls night out. Thor, and pretty much all of the MCU films, can be said to be guy’s films. With that in mind, one should notice that the women get a bit more focus here, particularly Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and Renee Russo’s characters. I wish we could get a lot more of the beautiful Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif, though. Perhaps in the third film, unless the rumors are true and she becomes Wonder Woman.

Portal. Once again, Marvel has outdone themselves with the climactic battle. This time, as a fellow amateur critic put it, they play a game of “Portal Kombat”, which is quite interesting and doesn’t get old. As a matter of fact, I found myself wishing it would go on for another 10-15 minutes, but they way Thor was getting beat up, I doubt that could have lasted.

Learn. It seems like everything that critics were complaining about in the first film, the filmmakers took notice of and fixed. For instance, the biggest complaint was that too much time was spent on Earth, but in this one about 75% of the film is spent on Asgard which is what we all wanted.

What didn’t I like?

Tease. Some of the characters from the last film that had small parts were supposed to have bigger parts, such as Heimdall. True, he does get a slightly increased roll, but other than one scene where he single-handedly brings down an alien ship. Other than that, he just has a few extra lines.

Pacing. I mistakenly listening to a review of this before watching the real thing and I wonder if that inadvertently brainwashed me because this review mentioned that the film slowed down without Loki. Indeed it does seems as if things go a little slower without him, especially when you consider how things pick up when he seems to lift the mood of things and give us some vintage Loki moments upon his release from prison, including allowing a quick cameo from a certain “Star-Spangled Man”.

Thor: The Dark World is darker than its predecessor, but still had laughs and fun to be had, something that couldn’t have been said about its fellow MCU entry this year, Iron Man 3. Now, the question is, does this stack up to its predecessor. Do the Dark Eleves work as a new threat? Should this be seen in theaters? Well, to answer those questions…yes, yes, and most likely. I wasn’t blown away by this, but I haven’t been blow away by anything this year, I still enjoyed it for what it is. I would most definitely check it out ASAP!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Blueberry Nights

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jeremy is an émigré from Manchester who owns a small New York City cafe. The cafe becomes a haven for Elizabeth as she tries to recover emotionally following the end of an affair. She finds comfort in the blueberry pie he bakes daily despite the fact that none of his other customers ever order it.

Elizabeth, now calling herself Lizzie, eventually drifts to Memphis, Tennessee, where she takes two jobs, waitress by day and barmaid by night, in order to earn enough money to finance the purchase of a car. She regularly sends postcards to Jeremy without revealing where she lives or works and, although he tries to locate her by calling all the restaurants in the area, he fails to find her. Later on, he decides to send out postcards to any restaurants she may be to try to find her.

One of Lizzie’s regulars at both jobs is local policeman Arnie Copeland, an alcoholic who cannot accept the fact his wife Sue Lynne has left him and is flaunting her freedom by openly socializing with other men. He confesses to Lizzie his many attempts at achieving sobriety have ended in failure. One night, he drunkenly threatens his estranged wife with his gun if she leaves, then crashes his car and is killed. Lizzie comforts Sue Lynne, who gives her the money towards Arnie’s tab at the bar Lizzie works at in the evening, before leaving town.

Heading west, Elizabeth – now calling herself Beth – gets another waitress job at a casino in a small town in Nevada. Here she meets Leslie, an inveterate poker player who has lost all her money. Beth agrees to lend her $2200 in exchange for a third of her winnings or her car if she loses. When she does lose, she fulfills her promise by giving Beth the car, but asks her to drive her to Las Vegas so she can borrow money from her father, whom she has not seen in a long time. While en route she receives a call from a Vegas hospital, where her father has been admitted and is dying. Leslie believes the call is simply a ruse to lure her home, but upon arrival in Vegas she discovers her father died the previous night. Leslie announces she wants to keep the car, which she had stolen from her father, who had sent her the title and registration despite their estrangement. She confesses she really won the card game and gives Beth her promised share of the winnings, which she uses to finally purchase the car she always wanted.

Elizabeth returns to Manhattan and, discovering her ex-boyfriend has vacated his apartment and moved on with his life, returns to the cafe, where Jeremy has had a stool at the counter reserved for her ever since she left. As she eats a slice of blueberry pie, Elizabeth realizes her feelings for him are reciprocated.

REVIEW:

Before I start this, let me let you all in on why I chose to watch My Blueberry Nights. Two words…Norah Jones! Yes, this is the acting debut of one highly talented Norah Jones, who proves she can do more than sing. Other than her, though, I won’t kid you, this is pretty much a cookie cutter, chick flick drama.

Let’s get to the good, shall we?

There are some strong performances from the entire cast, especially Jones, who surprised me by how at home she appears to be in front of the camera. If one didn’t know she was a singer, you’d think she was up there with some of the other heavy hitters she shares screen time with.

The story seemed a bit heavy-handed and dramatic for my taste, but for those in the target audience, I’m sure it will work just fine.

A tip of the hat has to go to Natalie Portman. Her portrayal of the gambling addicted Leslie was quite impressive. I do wonder, though, if this role was initially meant for Matthew McConaughey, since it seemed like she was trying to be him. Just watch her, everything from her mannerisms, to the blond hair screams McConaughey. The only thing she didn’t do was taker her shirt off for no reason other than to show of her abs.

The bad…

Pacing in this film is a little slow, but given the fact that this is a drama, I’ll allow that to slide a little bit, but there is still no excuse for this thing to drag along the way it does. Sure, there isn’t any action or comedy to move things along, but there could have been something to move things along.

I would love to say that this was a interesting film, but it just didn’t catch my attention. I don’t know why. I guess I”m just not into chick flick dramas. Now, I will say that Natalie Portman and Jude Law’s scenes did pique my interest and Rachel Weisz commanded the audience’s attention during her segment, but that just wasn’t enough to keep me from nearly dozing off.

If one thing can be said about this flick, it is that it will make you want to have some blueberry pie, since that pretty much bookends the film with Norah eating a slice while Jude Law has his baked Alaska. I will say though, that to cross this was one hell of a way to cross the street, and it took, I think it was 2 yrs for her to do it. Not sure what I mean by that? Well, then you need to go watch this, then.

Look, this isn’t a bad film, not by any stretch of the imagination. It has its ups and downs, that is to be certain. For those into these kind of movies, you’ll love it, for those of us who more often than not get forced into watching this fluff, well, just smile and nod. Do I recommend it? Yes, but know that you’re getting into a slow-paced independent romantic drama.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

No Strings Attached

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) initially meet as teenagers at summer camp. They meet again ten years later at a party at the University of Michigan, where Adam is a student and Emma is visiting for her father’s funeral in Ann Arbor. A year later, Emma and Adam have another fortuitous meeting while at a farmer’s market in Los Angeles, where Emma has just become a resident at a local hospital and Adam is a production assistant for Secret High, a music TV-show, with aspirations of becoming a staff writer for the show. Adam takes down Emma’s phone number, but the two don’t have contact again for another year.

Now a year later, Adam becomes distraught when he learns that his eccentric father (Kevin Kline)—who used to be the star of a TV show called Great Scott—is having a relationship with Adam’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond). Determined to “get back on the wagon”, Adam starts calling every woman in his cell phone. The next day, he wakes up after a drunken night to find out that he text-messaged Emma and came to the home she shares with some other residents, including her best friend Patrice (Greta Gerwig). Emma leads Adam to her bedroom to retrieve his pants, where the two of them wind up having sex.

Because of both her belief that ‘no two people were meant to be together forever’ and the pressures of her job, Emma proposes that they have casual sex with each other before setting some ground rules to prevent their relationship from becoming too serious. At first things go well, but then Adam starts becoming jealous of the possibility of Emma being with another doctor, Sam. Although denying that he is jealous, Adam starts presenting her with gifts, which she rebuffs.

Adam becomes more distraught when his father asks him to dinner with Vanessa on Adam’s birthday, where they announce that they’re planning to have a baby together. Emma, who accompanied Adam to the dinner, berates the couple while defending Adam. Adam eventually convinces her to go out with him on a date on Valentine’s Day. Things come to a head when Emma starts becoming too uncomfortable about being on a date with Adam. Adam tells Emma that he loves her, but she grows angry, telling him he should go out with another woman who ‘isn’t going to hurt you’. Adam drops Emma off at her hospital and drives off.

Six weeks later, a script Adam had written for his show and submitted through Lucy (Lake Bell), the production assistant on the show, is being filmed, and Adam gets a writing job on the show. Emma, meanwhile, has become distraught at not being with Adam, which is compounded by her younger sister Katie’s (Olivia Thirlby) upcoming wedding the next day and her widowed mother (Talia Balsam) arriving with a new boyfriend.

Emma tries calling Adam, but Adam rebuffs her on the phone. Emma realizes she wants to be with him, and drives down to his home. Adam, however, arrives home with Lucy, whom Emma takes to be Adam’s new girlfriend. Emma tearfully starts driving back to the wedding.

Before Adam and Lucy can have sex, Vanessa calls Adam—his father is in the hospital, having overdosed on Purple Drank. Arriving at the hospital, Vanessa confesses that she doesn’t want to be with an older man and that she’s scared of old people. She dumps her dog off on Adam and leaves for a party. Adam talks to his father and chastises him, but tells him he’ll call tomorrow.

On the way out, Adam calls Emma back. Adam angrily tells Emma that she needs to have the conversation she wants in person—which she does; Emma’s friend and resident Shira (Mindy Kaling) noticed Adam’s father arriving and called Emma. Adam and Emma eventually reconcile, and after a morning of eating breakfast, they go together to Emma’s sister’s wedding. Emma asks, “So, what happens now?” and Adam silently holds her hand.

In the concluding pictures, it is seen that Lucy—left stranded when Adam and Emma found each other—has taken up with Adam’s father, replacing the feckless Vanessa. Eli and Patrice are shown meeting Eli’s two gay dads. Vanessa is seen in an elevator with old people, being visibly disconcerted. Sam is seen with Shira telling her that he wants to see other people, to which she responds that she has already been seeing many other people. Emma is later seen as the delivery doctor to her sister Katie, whose husband ineffectually tries to soothe her. Guy is seen welcoming someone into the on-call room, who turns out to be Sam. The last scene concludes with Adam and Emma snuggling together while asleep

REVIEW:

Just when I thought all romantic comedies were doomed to be nothing but chick flicks that bash the make species and give women an unrealistic view on life, here comes No Strings Attached.

This film makes no attempt to hide what it is about. Just look at that poster, and you can tell that it involves casual, meaningless, sex. Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a movie if there was wasn’t some sort of plot and, heaven forbid there be a romantic comedy that doesn’t bring in the whole feelings angle, complete with tears, remorse, and of course the resolution at the end.

I really like this subject matter and how someone finally had the balls to make a film about it. In my younger days, I had a couple of friends that I had a similar relationship with. Of course, things got weird, especially since both were exes, but that’s a story for a different time. Point is, this is something that happens a lot more often than the unrealistic stuff you normally see in romantic comedies.

While Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are the stars of this flick, the characters they portray aren’t really that memorable. It is really the supporting cast that makes this film.

Take for instance, Kevin Kline, who plays the dad. This guy is a semi-retired actor of some sort, who now spends his days getting high, and apparently picking up his son’s sloppy seconds atBurningMan.

Mindy Kaling, who fans of The Office will recognize, plays Portman’s roommate and shines in the few minutes she gets on camera.

New comer Greta Gerwig really brings her A-game as Portman’s best friend, especially when she goes into the troubles of her love life, and subsequently hooks up with Kutcher’s best friend.

Fans of Chelsea Lately may remember Guy Branum and how funny he was. Well, he brings his comedic talents to the big screen here and shows he hasn’t lost any of it.

LakeBelland an unrecognizable Cary Elwes should aslo be mentioned. Keep an eye out for them when you watch this.

As with most comedies today, there is that section of the film where it stops being a comedy and goes into drama territory. Luckily, it doesn’t stay there very long, albeit a bit longer than I would have liked.

Final verdict on No Strings Attached? This is pretty funny flick about casual sex that has a great ensemble cast. While this subject matter may not be the most comfortable for everyone to sit and watch, it is definitely worth seeing. I recommend this to anyone who hasn’t already been offended just by the poster. You won’t be disappointed.

4 out of 5 stars

Your Highness

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco) are the sons of King Tallious (Charles Dance). They are both warriors, but Fabious is dashing and skilled whereas Thadeous is lazy and ineffectual with both an inferiority complex and poor track record in quest taking. While celebrating his latest victory over the evil sorcerer who has been ravaging Tallious’s kingdom, Leezar (Justin Theroux), Fabious reveals the virgin Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) he freed from a tower and wishes to marry her. Though he is made the best man, Thadeous skips the wedding after overhearing Fabious’s Elite Knights, led by Boremont (Damian Lewis), talk about him negatively. But the wedding is then crashed by Leezar, revealing himself to be the one who placed Belladona in the tower before spiriting her away. Returning to the castle with his servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), Thadeous is forced into joining Fabious on his quest to rescue Belladonna.

Visiting the perverted Great Wise Wizard, the brothers learn that Leezar is attempting to fulfill a prophecy of a warlock having intercourse with a maiden when the two Moons converge, impregnating her with a dragon that will allow him to take over King Tallious’ kingdom. To destroy Leezar, they are given a magic compass that would led them to the fabled Sword of Unicorn which is located with a labyrinth. On the way there, after finding that Fabious’s slave Julian has been reporting to Leezar of their progress, the brothers learn that Elite Knights are also serving the warlock and escape from them alongside Courtney. While collecting themselves at a river, after his brother sends his mechanical bird Simon to tell the king of the Elite Knights’ betrayal and request reinforcements, Thadeous, Fabious and Courtney are captured by nymphs under their leader, Marteetee (John Fricker), who imprisons them at an arena where Fabious kills off Marateetee’s finest warrior. In retaliation, Marteetee summons his hydra-like familiar to kill them.

However, they are rescued by Isabel (Natalie Portman), a warrior that is seeking revenge for her father’s murder at Marteetee’s hands. Later that night, as Fabious and Courtney leave them for the mood to set in, Thadeous learns that Isabel is also after Leezar for the slaughter of her brothers before accidently revealing their quest and the compass to her. The next day, the party learn too late that Isabel stole the compass from Thadeous and ran off. Finally infuriated of his brother’s selfish behavior as they arrive to a village, Fabious decides to find the Sword of Unicorn alone as Thadeous and Courtney go to a tavern, where they find Isabel and steal the compass back. But finding that his brother has been captured by Leezar’s men, Thadeous wins Isabel over as they join forces, entering the labyrinth where they encounter a minotaur. Getting separated from the others, Thadeous retrieves the Sword of Unicorn and, after a test of worth, slays the minotaur as Isabel used a panflute to soothe the monster as he was about to rape Courtney. A changed man, proudly wearing the minotaur’s severed penis as a trophy necklace when unable to get one of the beast’s horns, Thadeous and his group make their way to Leezar’s castle and free Fabious while giving him the Sword of Unicorn. As the others kill off Julian and Boremont’s men along with Leezar’s mothers, Fabious then uses the Sword of Unicorn to end Leezar’s life before he isable to rape Belladonna, saving the kingdom.

After their victory, the heroes go back home, but Isabel goes on another quest. Fabious and Belladonna marry as Thadeous retreats to his bedroom to masturbate before going to bed. There, he is approached by Isabel, who reveals that she has fallen in love with him. However, for them to have sex, he must first slay the witch that cast a spell on her, locking her in a chastity belt. Though he was not in the mood to go out, Isabel’s suggestion to cuddle convinces him to go on a new adventure.

REVIEW:

Your Highness is one of those films that I just didn’t know what to think of when it was initially released. I passed on seeing it in theaters because it didn’t look like something worth wasting $8 to go see. I still hold to that, but this does make for a decent rental.

I won’t beat around the bush. If you’re coming into this film thinking you’re going to get some sort of epic medieval masterpiece, then you will be supremely disappointed. Your Highness comes off as nothing more than a bunch of frat boys playing around with what they know about the era and some _____ (insert recreational drug here).

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but apparently critics seemed very turned off by it. I often wonder if, in order to become critics, they had to get a stick shoved far up their ass, because it seems as if the only film they really love are the kids that audiences don’t really get excited over, and yet something like this, which is not meant to be anything more than entertaining, they treat like it was a pox on civilization.

*AHEM*

Sorry for the little rant there, but I get so frustrated when I read the things critics say about films that obviously aren’t meant as anything more than mindless fun, which is all this is.

Now, I mention the frat boy mentality this film has. The humor of this film is mainly centered around lewd and crude humor. For goodness sakes, at one point in the film, a Minotaur’s penis is cut off and Danny McBride wears it around his neck.

What is odd about this film, though, is save for one scene near the middle with naked women, there is nary a bare breast to be seen. The tone this film set leads one to belive you would see more. If anything, they could have put Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Portman is traditional Renaissance corsets, but I guess they wanted to focus more on the men, for some reason.

Speaking of the girls, this was released after Portman’s Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. Some have criticized her for it, but if you’ve watched her career, then you know she’s very versatile and this is much lighter faire than playing a ballerina on the verge of insanity and anorexia. All that said, she does a real good job in this role, but are we really surprised.

I do have to criticize Zooey Deschanel, something I never do, though. She seems rather wasted here, not to mention the fact that her personality doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the whole “damsel in distress” thing. Then again, maybe I’ve been watching her sister too long on Bones and now have them confused. Either way, I think she should have gotten more screentime than just a couple of scenes. Although, the possession, or whatever that was supposed to be, was qite…um…different.

The plot of this film is filled with all types of whole, and yet, they aren’t really detracting from the story, except the thing about the two moons and dragons or something like that. Not really sure where they were trying to go with that, or if I just missed something, or what the deal was, but it left me scratching my head.

Finally, the special effects in this film are two-fold. The first is the creatures. While most of them look like rejects from Narnia, the Wise Wizard looks like he came straight from Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, or some other Jim Henson film.

The next part is the special effects laden final act. Now, if you’ve seen many of the summer blockbusters in the last few years, then you know that they almost all rely solely on effects for the big climactic battle.

I think that was the idea here, but it just didn’t work the way they wanted it to, mainly because of how the characters were developed…or rather not developed. Still, it was a worthy attempt, I’ll give them that.

Your Highness is not a film for everyone. The humor lies in its crudity, so if you can’t handle that, you won’t find this film funny. Having said that, somewhere past the middle it stops being funny and just goes into this weird autopilot mode until the final scene. I enjoyed this film, and while I think nothing really needs to be changed, there are some things that could be altered to make things better. That point aside, I wold highly recommend this to all that aren’t easily offended by frat boy-type humor.

4 out of 5 stars

Black Swan

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a young dancer with a prestigious New York City ballet company. She lives with her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), a former dancer, now amateur artist, who stopped her career at 28 when she became pregnant with Nina.

The ballet company is preparing for a production of Swan Lake. The director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), has to cast a new principal dancer as he has forced his present principal dancer, Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), into retirement. The lead must be able to portray both the innocent, fragile White Swan and her dark, sensual, evil twin, the Black Swan. Nina is selected to compete for the part alongside several other dancers. After her audition goes badly, she visits Thomas to ask him to reconsider and give her the role. He tells her that her rigid technique makes her ideal for the White Swan, but she lacks the passion to dance the Black Swan. He then forces a kiss on her until she bites him. Later, she is chosen for the Swan Queen. An intoxicated Beth angrily confronts Thomas and Nina, and she is later hit by a car and seriously injured in what Thomas believes was a suicide attempt.

Nina begins to witness strange happenings around her. Thomas, meanwhile, becomes increasingly critical of Nina’s “frigid” dancing as the Black Swan and tells her she should stop being such a perfectionist and simply lose herself in the role. She makes the acquaintance of another dancer in the company, Lily (Mila Kunis), whom Thomas described as having the qualities Nina lacks. The relationship between the two dancers cools because of Lily’s indiscretions, but to make up for it, Lily appears at Nina’s door and invites her for a night out. Nina is hesitant at first, but decides to join Lily against her mother’s wishes. While out, Lily offers Nina a capsule of Ecstasy. Upon returning to the apartment, Nina has another fight with her mother. She barricades herself in her room and has sex with Lily. Next morning, Nina wakes up alone and late for rehearsal. When she arrives at the studio, she finds Lily dancing as the Swan Queen. Furious, she confronts Lily and asks her why she did not wake her up in the morning. Lily states that she spent the night with a man whom she met at the club, and it is revealed that Nina imagined the whole sex episode.

Nina’s hallucinations become stronger during rehearsals and at home, which culminates in a violent fight with her mother after which she passes out. Concerned about Nina’s erratic behavior, her mother tries to prevent her from attending the opening performance, but Nina forces her way through and insists that she can dance. Lily and Thomas are puzzled about her appearance since Nina’s mother had called saying she was sick.

The first act goes well until Nina is distracted during a lift by a hallucination and the Prince drops her. Distraught, she returns to her dressing room and finds Lily dressed as the Black Swan. As Lily announces her intention to play the Black Swan, she transforms into Nina herself. Nina and her double struggle, and Nina shoves her double into the mirror shattering it. She grabs a shard of glass and stabs her double in the stomach. Nina sees that the body is Lily’s. She hides the body, returns to the stage, and dances the Black Swan passionately and sensually. Growing black feathers, her arms become black wings as she finally loses herself and is transformed into a black swan. At the end of the act, she receives a standing ovation from the audience. When she leaves the stage, she finds Thomas and the rest of the cast congratulating her on her stunning performance. Nina takes him by surprise and kisses him.

Back in her dressing room preparing for the final act, the dying of the White Swan, there is a knock on her door. She opens it to see Lily, who has come to congratulate her on her performance as the Black Swan. Nina realizes her fight with Lily, just as all the strange visions she had experienced, were hallucinations, but sees the mirror is still shattered. She notices a wound on her body and realizes that she stabbed herself, not Lily. Back on stage, she dances passionately and seamlessly as the White Swan. In the last moments of the ballet, when the White Swan throws herself off a cliff, she spots her mother weeping in the audience. The theater erupts in thunderous applause as Nina falls. As Thomas and the rest of the cast enthusiastically congratulate her on her performance, Lily gasps in horror to see that Nina is bleeding. As Nina lies wounded, the film closes with her staring up at the stage lights, whispering, “I felt it – Perfect – It was perfect,” as the screen fades to white and the audience chants her name.

REVIEW:

In college, I was forced to take a Fine Arts class, during which we spent quite a fair amount of time on Swan Lake. Black Swan isn’t necessarily a film version of that ballet, but the ballet is a major plot point.

This is one of those film that one could not get around hearing about during awards season. Many had it picked to sweep the awards (until they saw The King’s Speech). Now, I’m not one to get too involved with who should or should not have won this or that awards, but in comparison to the film that were nominated, this one and …Speech are nearly neck and neck.

So, what is this highly acclaimed film about? Well, we have this ballet dancer, Nina, who is a hot young dancer trying to get her big break at the ballet company she dances for. The new season brings about the company’s production of Swan Lake, which will feature a new face, according to the director. Eventually, this turns out to be Nina, bit seriously has problem embracing both the white and black swans, unlike her frenemy, Lily, who appears to be primed to take her spot.

As the film progresses, we see the decline in Nina’s mental health, until she finally does something before she takes the stage for the finale of her performance that one would never have guessed she was able to do when we first met her.

The ballet scenes are quite breathtaking. It is no secret that most of us could care less about ballet, but this is one of those films that could make you convert. The director did a great job of filming these scenes and conveying the atmosphere to the audience.

The hallucination scenes are quite interesting, but they do cause the viewer to get a bit confused, if they’re not ready for it.

Natalie Portman as Nina is awesome! No wonder, she was nominated for so many awards.

Mila Kunis made for the perfect foil to Portman, as well as gave us some nice eye candy (just wait until you see the lesbian scene.)

Black Swan is far from the most interesting thing on film, but it has its moments. Great film often fall into this category. If you were to ask me, if I agreed with the awards and accolades this film has received. This year, though, too many folk don’t. Having said that, I did enjoy this film thoroughly, and I trust that you will, as well.

5 out of 5 stars

Thor

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2011 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 965 A.D., Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore), to prevent them from conquering the Nine Realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

In the present, Odin’s son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when the Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin’s order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three; Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor’s arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir — the source of his power, now protected by a spell to allow only the worthy to wield it.

Thor lands in New Mexico, where scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Jane’s data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to Earth. Thor, having discovered Mjolnir’s nearby location, seeks to retrieve it from the facility that S.H.I.E.L.D quickly constructed but he finds himself unable to lift it, and is captured. With Selvig’s help, he is freed and resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Jane.

Loki discovers he is Laufey’s son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. When Odin, overcome with stress, falls into the deep “Odinsleep” that allows him to recuperate, Loki becomes king and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki’s rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of the Bifröst Bridge – the means of traveling between worlds – to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor. Sif and the Warriors Three find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor’s sacrifice proves him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and allowing him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Jane goodbye and vowing to return, he and his fellow warriors travel to Asgard to confront Loki.

In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey’s attempt on Odin’s life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, and thus prove himself worthy to Odin. Thor arrives and fights his brother before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki’s plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge’s destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall to his apparent death after realizing that he disappointed Odin once again. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king, while on Earth, Jane and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard so that she can reunite with Thor.

In a post-credits scene, Selvig has been taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) asks him to study an unnamed device, which Fury says may hold untold power. Loki, invisible, whispers to Selvig to agree, which Selvig does.

REVIEW:

Unless you’re a fellow comic geek, then your knowledge of Thor may be limited to Norse mythology, what you’ve seen occasionally in cartoons where he’s popped up spouting medieval lingo, or the little girl’s obsession in Adventures in Babysitting.

Well, the good people over at Marvel Studios have finally decided to bring Thor to the big screen, and they do so with a pretty big bang, if I do say so myself.

To my knowledge, Thor is the first feature film the Norse god of thunder has been featured in (excluding his segment in Hulk Vs.), so this is kind of a big deal, especially since this is supposed to be the first big film of the summer (no offense to Fast Five).

The plot of this film is basically an origin tale, because unlike Superman, Batman, Spider Man, etc., not may people are familiar with the history of the character of Thor. As we are getting to know Thor we learn that he is a kind of pompous jerk, who lets his ego go too far one day and not only threatens the lives of some of his friends, but also violates a truce, and subsequently gets banished from Asgard and stripped of his powers. Once he lands on Earth, he meets up with a trio of scientists who are studying something up in the sky (I can’t remember what it was exactly). After a few character development scenes, the film ends with some true kick-ass action scenes!

I’ve made the decision to basically boycott the use of 3D (I’m making an exception for Green Lantern, though). I mean, I have yet to see a film that makes good use of the technology, and I honestly think studios are just using it as a way to charge more money (as if ticket prices aren’t high enough).

Having said that, I think there might have been some pretty swell 3D scenes in this film, especially on Asgard, but still not enough to warrant the extra $$$.

The casting in this film really caught my attention. Let’s start with Thor, himself, played by Chris Hemsworth. Another Australian to follow in the footsteps of Mel Gibson (before he lost his mind), Heath Ledger, and currently Sam Worthington. This guy looks exactly like Thor, especially since he buffed up since he was last seen on-screen as Kirk’s father in Star Trek. On top of all that, the guy doesn’t do a bad job with this role.

Tom Hiddleston is another bit of brilliant casting as Loki. It isn’t very often that we see a villain become a villain before our very eyes and feel for him as we do here, and Hiddleston does a great job of bringing the audience to his side. I would have liked for him to have had more fun with the character. After all, Loki is the god of mischief!!!

Anthony Hopkins as Odin…do I really need to say anything other than genius?

Natalie Portman does a decent job as Jane Foster, but this isn’t really her movie, let alone anything for her to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t bad, this was just a small role, and she’s just coming off The Black Swan, those two things coupled together caused a bit of confusion, but in the end, she did what she had to and owned this role.

Idris Elba was controversially cast as Heimdall. There was an organization who actually threatened to boycott this film because of his skin color? Can you believe that? After all that hullabaloo, Elba does what he does with all his roles, treats them very professionally and delivers a knockout performance. To those people who wanted to boycott because of his skin color…well, I won’t type what I want to say to them….just use your imagination.

The sets were fantastic. Wait, let me take that back. Asgard and the lair of the Frost giants are spectacular, while the little town in New Mexico (which is somehow directly beneath Asgard –scratches head–) looks like nothing more than an old set they dug out from the studio archives and filled with extras. Did they really spend all their money on Asgard, I wonder?

The special effects were awesome, but in a film of this genre and with this subject matter, would you really expect less?

I was especially impressed with how much this film kept close to the source material. The one thing I would have liked for them to have kept, though is Thor’s helmet. He wears it when we initially see him, but he takes it off and it is never seen again. Something tells me, that we’ll get something similar with the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America. Something about wings on a person’s head just doesn’t work these days, I guess. No wonder Flash hasn’t been on the big screen, yet.

I do have a bit of an issue with the pacing of the film, mainly when it shifts to Earth. It seems that down here the film drags on, except for the S.H.I.E.L.D. tent scene and the appearance of the Destroyer. Without those, this film all but makes you hate living on Earth because it is such a bore down here, as opposed to the non-stop action that occurs in the other worlds.

The mixture of action and comedy really works here, even better than it did in the first Iron Man. This is what a comic book movie should be, not something all dark and depressing, if you ask me.

Thor starts this summer off with a bang, and the subsequent films that are set to come out between now and Labor Day have some big shoes to fill. No, this film isn’t perfect, but it was something even better…entertaining! They also snuck in a subtle hint towards the forthcoming Avengers movie (after which, I’m sure there will be a sequel to this film). Do I recommend this film? Yes, Yes, YES!!!! you should drop everything and see it right now! It is that good!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars