Movie Review: “Thor: The Dark World”

Starring
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddlestone, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings
Director
Alan Taylor

The opening scene in “Thor: The Dark World” is very revealing, but not in the ways that the filmmakers intended. It tells an exposition-laden tale of a battle fought ages ago between Asgardians (Thor’s people) and the dark elves, who planned to use this mystical force called the Aether (pronounced ‘ether’) to distinguish all light. The scene is meant to shed some light on a plot that they must have deemed too difficult to follow, only it’s not. It’s a straightforward revenge story, and the audience would have figured out the rest in time. That they insisted on spoon feeding the audience shows a lack of confidence, and while “Thor: The Dark World” is not as consistent as its predecessor, the film has some truly great moments, including a spectacular climax. To see them acting so desperate is both unbecoming and unnecessary.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his band of merry marauders spend their days hopping from world to world as a peacekeeping force, while Thor’s stepbrother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is thrown in jail for the crimes he committed in “The Avengers.” Back on Earth, genius astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is still trying to get back to living a normal life, when her gear starts picking up some strange readings that lead her to an abandoned warehouse which houses a portal to the location of the Aether, which the Asgardians had hoped would never be found. Jane’s awakening of the Aether awakens Malekith (Christopher Eccelston), the dark elf whose efforts were thwarted in that ages-ago battle, and with the convergence of the nine worlds about to take place, Malekith plans on finishing what he started all those years ago.

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Movie Review: “Rush”

Starring
Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexanda Maria Lara
Director
Ron Howard

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Ron Howard and Peter Morgan love history. One look at their collective filmographies reveals several projects based on true stories and real-life figures. The latter, in particular, is responsible for writing some of the best historical dramas of the past decade, but sadly, “Rush” is not one of them. Though there’s a lot to like about Howard and Morgan’s latest movie – particularly the chemistry and performances of its two leading men – it’s not nearly as thrilling or fascinating as their last collaboration (“Frost/Nixon”). “Rush” teeters on the edge of being a really good film, but despite some fantastic source material, it never fully seizes the opportunity.

Based on the true story of the 1976 Formula One season and the heated rivalry between British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and reigning World Champion Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), the film begins many years earlier, when the two first meet during a Formula Three race. At the time, both Hunt and Lauda were up-and-coming drivers looking to seize their chance in the big leagues. When Lauda takes out a loan and buys his way onto a team, eventually joining Ferrari after showcasing his talent behind the wheel and in the garage, Hunt is desperate to follow suit. But despite the backing of a wealthy benefactor, Hunt’s F1 car simply doesn’t compare to Lauda’s first-rate Ferrari, and the cold and calculated Austrian ends up winning the ’75 championship. One year later, Hunt is offered the chance to drive for McLaren, and with the odds now evened, the two men pick up where they left off on the race track, resulting in one of the most unforgettable seasons in F1 racing history.

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5 Questions with Hollywood Stuntman/Dove Men + Care Spokesman Bobby Holland Hanton‏

Bobby Holland Hanton is the Michael Jordan of his profession. Hollywood’s top stunt double, Holland Hanton has doubled as Christian Bale (in “The Dark Knight Rises”), Daniel Craig (in “Skyfall”), Ryan Reynolds (in “Green Lantern”), and he recently filmed “Thor: The Dark World” with Chris Hemsworth. Bullz-Eye got to ask the latest spokesman for Dove’s Men + Care line of products for men five questions about his career.

Bullz-Eye: Of all the Hollywood studs you’ve served as a stuntman/body double for, who is the one you would most like to be for an entire week and why?

Bobby Holland Hanton: Between Batman, James Bond and Thor, this is an extremely difficult question. I would have to say Batman and Bond are equally as intriguing, with Thor being a close second. Batman is a superhero, who fights crime behind a mask and no one knows who he is – that is pretty cool. Whereas Bond is more realistic, he’s a slick and suave hero that everyone can see and root for. On Thor, Chris Hemsworth looked great and is a character that carries a heavy hammer — he is always particularly well-groomed and keeps his face fresh.

BE: What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? And how did you become a stunt double?

BHH: When I was 10 I wanted to be Batman, Thor and James Bond. No, I’m only kidding. I wanted to be a professional soccer player. Growing up, I followed in my older sister’s footsteps and took on gymnastics. I loved the physicality of the sport and I loved to train. However, soccer was always my passion, and then I found myself just enjoying the regimented training and working out.

BE: What’s the most gruesome injury you’ve suffered as a result of being in your profession?

BHH: I suffered a bad back injury while filming “Green Lantern.” I performed four back-focused stunts in a short period of time, which took a lot of hits to my back over and over. It took its toll after a while, and I found out ultimately that I had sciatic nerve damage. I needed to have two operations on my back, one of which was an emergency surgery, and it took about 9 months to regain full strength. I hope I can say that will always be the worst injury I’ve ever suffered.

BE: What do you do to stay in shape? What type of training do you do, what do you eat and how frequently?

BHH: It is all dependent on who I am doubling. With Chris Hemsworth in “Thor,” I was on a very strict workout plan to gain the strength and muscle. Whereas for Daniel Craig, who is slimmer, I did not work out as often, and focused on my diet and nutrition plan. I have found that between movies it has been best to maintain a middle ground, and I have been blessed to have the ability to change body types rather easily; I thank genetics, I guess. I believe in a strict regimen all day, every day in order to keep workouts and nutrition intact. I wake up every morning and take a shower before I start my day. I am a huge fan of products like the Dove Men+Care Aqua Impact body wash, because it prevents me from smelling bad on set after performing stunts all day, which would be embarrassing in the company of so many movie stars. I also make sure I eat regular portions throughout the day, every two hours, balancing high protein, high carbohydrates and high fats.

BE: Was there a movie star you’ve met who left you completely start struck? Who is the hottest female celebrity you’ve ever seen in person?

BHH: I have been fortunate to work with some of the greatest stars of all time. I would say Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman struck me the most. Chris Nolan is a spectacular director, and I loved working with him on “Batman”. In terms of the hottest female celebrity I have seen, I would go with Emily Blunt or Rachael McAdams — they are gorgeous!

Check out the full line of Dove Men + Care products at www.dovemencare.com.

  

SXSW Film Fest 2012: Day One

This is my third year down in Austin for the South by Southwest film festival, and I think that I’ve finally figured out the science to covering the event all on my lonesome. Instead of past years, where I’ve done a mix of both full-length and shorter movie reviews, this time around, I’m going to be doing daily blogs with even shorter, capsule-style reviews of the films that I saw the previous day. I’m hoping this will make me more productive than usual, but as my schedule is constantly in flux, please bear with me. And if you can’t wait for my daily posts, be sure to follow me on Twitter @JasonZingale for more.

“The Cabin in the Woods”

Leave it to Joss Whedon to take the horror genre and turn it on its head. Though it appears to be nothing more than a typical slasher flick at first sight, “The Cabin in the Woods” (which was directed by Drew Goddard and co-written with Whedon) is an entertaining and completely original genre hybrid film that has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. The setup is simple: five friends head to a cabin located in the middle of nowhere for a weekend of fun, only to find themselves fighting for their lives when they accidentally resurrect a family of killer rednecks from the dead. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that, as the audience learns very early on that there’s a third party behind all the death and destruction. It’s an excellent twist on a tired genre, with Whedon and Goddard’s script not only defying convention on several occasions, but also lightening the mood with deft strokes of humor. Though the film features Chris Hemsworth in a role that precedes his “Thor” days, the real stars are Fran Kranz (from Whedon’s short-lived “Dollhouse”) as the pot-smoking comic relief, and Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the men orchestrating all the mayhem. It goes a bit off the rails in the final act, but for a movie this ambitious, sometimes it takes that kind of risk to yield such a refreshing reward.

“The Babymakers”

It may not be an official Broken Lizard movie in theory, but that’s not going to stop some people from comparing “The Babymakers” to the group’s other films, mainly because it was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and features him and fellow member Kevin Heffernan in supporting roles. But while it definitely shares the group’s brand of goofball humor, “The Babymakers” feels like a cheap imitation without the other Lizards. Fortunately, it still has its share of funny moments thanks to Paul Schneider, who delivers a wonderfully dry performance as a man so desperate to impregnate his wife (Olivia Munn) that he plots to steal the last vial of sperm he donated years before after learning that his current count is too low for conception. Much like fellow “Parks and Rec” alumnus Adam Scott, Schneider has been on the verge of a big breakout for years, and “The Babymakers” proves that he’s a more than capable comedic lead. Munn is better than usual, but she’s definitely not leading lady material, while the rest of the cast fails to do much with a script that goes for the easy joke far too often. And that’s a shame, because with a sharper script and better execution, “The Babymakers” could have been the perfect Broken Lizard vehicle.

  

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