Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thor gets hammered by movie critics

Movie Title:  Thor: The Dark World

In a Nutshell:  More Thor.  More Chris Hemsworth. More muscles and awesome abs. More beautiful Natalie Portman.  Thor has to save Earth and the Nine Realms from another evil enemy who looks like he stepped off the movie set of Star Trek.  All of Asgard’s soldiers look like they’d be good buds with the characters in the Lord of the Rings.  It feels a bit like a summer popcorn movie where yet one more superhero saves not just the helpless people of a doomed city, but the entire universe.

A lot of movie reviewers have criticized the sequel for various reasons, but if you love Thor or Chris Hemsworth, you’ll be entertained for almost two hours.

Things I liked:  The background story at the beginning is a quick refresher if it’s been awhile since you saw the first Thor movie or are unfamiliar with the comic books. Several fun twists will keep you guessing. I love the high-tech gold lace wall that keeps prisoners in their cells, as well as the barrio that rises up and around the king’s castle to protect it from incoming flying intruders.

I admired the Queen’s (lovely Rene Russo) regal bravery and (SPOILER ALERT) thought the funeral scene was touching and stunning.  Young actress Kat Dennings plays the snarky comic relief that she is known for on “Two Broke Girls” and even a recent Lipton tea commercial she was featured in. I love Heimdall’s fierce loyalty to protect Asgard, reflected in his intense eye color, as well as the cool, shimmering bridge he watches over.  Tom Hiddleston plays a deliciously conflicted Loki.

Things I didn’t like:  It’s hard to take bad guys seriously when they’re wearing the lovable Jabbawockeez dance crew face masks and beautifully intricate hair braids. It’s such a contradiction to see Asgard possess such advanced technology in one scene, along with relics from Medieval ages, such as sophisticated laser weaponry next to swords.  Another example is the futuristic medical table where nurses attend to Jane Foster, yet they aren’t able to heal a sword wound on another person.  Was it intentional that both Jane (gorgeous Natalie Portman) and the hopeful love interest (Jaimie Alexander) looked alike, including facial beautiful marks?  I wish there were more chemistry between Thor and Jane…their kiss and embraces fall fairly flat. What’s holding up King Odin’s eye patch?  Svartalfheim…really?

Uplifting theme:  Good conquers evil. Yay.  The King of Asgard (wonderful Anthony Hopkins) worries about his legacy and Thor tells him “I shall try to live with honor…is that not legacy enough?”

Funny line:  Dr. Erik Selvig is seen either nude (naughty parts blurred out) or wearing only underwear in most of his scenes.  When the danger heats up, he snaps out of his exhibitionist funk and says “I better get my pants.”  An amusing image is of Thor walking onto a modern-day subway train in London’s famous Tube and asks “How do I get to Greenwich?” sending the female passenger next to him in a smitten trance.

Things to look for:  -  Stan Lee’s cameo performance when he says “Can I have my shoe back?”  I love that he is spotlighted in every Marvel film. 
-        Digestive crackers on a table.
-        Captain America even makes an appearance.  Cute scene.
-        Harry Potter-looking book with moving images
-        Thor hangs up his hammer on a coat rack when entering an apartment.
-        Soldiers using rocket launchers next to sword fighters
-        Giant bowls of spices

Tips for parents:  You can’t expect to see a Superhero battle evil without some violence, although you don’t see gruesome blood.  (SPOILER ALERT) Thor’s hand gets cut off, but it’s a pretty sterile slice.  The kissing is also pretty sterile. No bad language. 

Grade: B+

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 Satisfies Your Craving

In a Nutshell:  "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2".  Swallow Falls has evolved into an island inhabited of living food creatures, triggered by a machine that young scientist Flint Lockwood designed in the first movie.  Flint returns to his former home with a crew of endearing characters in order to restore the island to normalcy before the food-beings swim onto the mainland and destroy it as well (a la Jurassic Park.)

Things I liked:  The animation is colorful, detailed, and very imaginative.  I can just picture the film designers sitting around a board room table, brainstorming all of the inventive food creatures in the movie which include watermelephant, susheep, shrimpanzee, flamangos, bananostrich, cheesespider, and more.  Most of them are pretty clever and creative.  I love the way the dad’s eyebrows cover his eyes and show all of the expression on his face.  He is voiced by the legendary James Caan. Barry the Strawberry leads the cute factor in the movie.  The little sounds he makes are sure to please every little girl in the audience.

Things I didn’t like:  Be prepared for lots and lots of food puns.  You had to know it was coming.  Some are witty like when the dad captains a small vessel and yells “There’s a leak in the boat!”  The camera then zooms over to a little green leek who yells back at the dad, equally frightened.  Some of the food puns will make you laugh and roll your eyes at the same time, such as “It’s jammed!”, “We’re toast!” or “This is totally bananas!”  If you liked the first movie, there really isn’t much you won’t like in this delicious sequel.

Uplifting theme:  It’s hard to say, really.  The efforts of Flint and his friends don’t really reign in the mayhem on the island, but somehow it’s ok in the end.  There is an evil character (SPOILER ALERT) who appears good, but his greedy motivations are revealed in the end.  So, the moral of the story?  Be kind?  Try hard?  Have loyal friends?

Funny line:  Many of the funny lines are spoken by the beloved cop Earl Devereaux, voiced by Terry Crews, such as “I’m not a barista…I’m a polista” and  “Police tape – the one thing I can’t break.”  The kids in the audience I sat in squealed with laughter when he repeats a phrase from the first movie “It’s enough to make a grown man cry, but not this man…get back in there, tear!”  He’s so tough he can force his own tears to return to his eyeball, and make chest hairs to grow on demand. 

Things to look for:   - The pickle who wears fishing lures as earrings.
                                   - Watch for the “Cheese, Grommit” hand motion when you hear
                                      someone say “It’s made of cheese!”  (I loved the Wallace &
                                     Grommit shorts.)
                                   -  Simon, the Electronic Memory Game

Tips for parents:   It’s easy as pie to enjoy this movie.  If you’ve seen the first “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, then you’re already familiar with most of the characters and know what you’re in for…lots of silliness and chuckles.  There is no bad language or inappropriate material, unless you’re offended when it’s announced that someone cut the cheese.

Grade: B+