Posts Tagged ‘Ray Stevenson’

Neon Inspired Family Feud

Thor: Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Ray Stevenson, Scarlett Johansson, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Taika Waititi

New Zealand director Taika Waititi was Oscar nominated back in 2005 for his Live Action Short film Two Cars, One Night.

Marvel Studios recruited him to inject new life into the Thor films and that he certainly does with Thor: Ragnarok, a neon inspired family feud of mythical proportions featuring Thor played again by hunky Australian actor Chris Hemsworth along with his pesky brother Loki played by Tom Hiddleston and new addition to the family Hela played with vampish delight by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine).

Thor returns to Asgard only to discover that Loki has banished Odin, their father to a virtual retirement home. Upon a brief visit, the brothers discover that Odin, wonderfully played with a sombre delight by Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) has got an elder daughter Hela who was banished from Asgard for being the Goddess of Death and wreaking havoc on the nine realms.

Cate Blanchett relishes her role as Hela, the Goddess of Death, inspired by Maleficent and certainly quite intent on destroying her defiant younger brothers.

Thor and Loki land up on a weird dystopian outer planet overseen by the demonic Grand Master, a superbly camp performance by Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), who immediately instructs Thor to fight in a massive arena against a formidable beast: The Hulk. Enter Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, played with bewildering amusement by Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher, Spotlight).

Eventually Thor gets Loki, The Hulk and a hard-drinking Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson last seen in the HBO series Westworld, to return to Asgard to defeat the demonic Hela who is assisted by a reluctant henchman Skurge played by Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek and The Loft).

The only criticism is that the middle section of Thor: Ragnarok detracts from the film’s central narrative, which is essentially a legendary family conflict.

Thor: Ragnarok is a fun-filled comic book film which thankfully does not take itself or the characters too seriously and is a clear indication that Marvel films are definitely trying to create memorable characters for the lucrative toy manufacturing market just before Christmas.

As with all the latest Marvel films, franchise opportunities abound. Thor: Ragnarok is light-hearted and hellishly entertaining. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as the illusive Doctor Strange.

If audiences enjoyed The Avengers and the first two Thor films, then they will definitely savour Thor: Ragnarok which is comically inspired from another Marvel hit franchise, The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Thor: Ragnarok gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

A Poisonous Universe

Thor: The Dark World

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From Asgaard to Greenwich, Thor and his hammer are back in the Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World, moving the action from the arid plains of New Mexico to the nine universes along with London and Stonehenge. The immensely successful Thor in 2010 directed by Kenneth Brannagh assembled a fabulously competent cast including Oscar Winners Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) as Thor’s father Odin, King of Asgaard and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) as physicist Jane Foster along with Rene Russo as Thor’s mother Frigga and Shakespearian actor Tom Hiddleston as malevolent and destructive brother Loki.

Thor: The Dark World reassembles this cast along with Kat Dennings of Two Broke Girls TV series fame as the sharp talking Darcy Lewis for some comic relief, Stellan Skarsgaard as the mad scientist Erik Selvig seen running naked around Stonehenge and newcomer Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the evil Dark Elf who is bent on destroying all known universes through an ethereal substance known as Aether which has the power to envelope all worlds in eternal darkness constituting a thoroughly poisonous universe.

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Moving the action from sunny New Mexico in Thor to murky and grey England was a smart move for Thor: The Dark World, however this sequel whilst it has stunning visual effects but not quite to the same level as Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, is certainly entertaining as superhero films go that the rival  Marvel studios are successfully releasing in quick succession after the huge commercial success of The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

Needless to say much of the action of Thor: The Dark World does not take place on earth so the plot is mostly action driven and there is naturally very little new character developments in the various CGI created universes with elegant and glossy Asgaard  taking the centre stage. Chris Hemsworth is naturally good as Thor, a role that will surely become synonymous with his name, but his real acting can be seen in films like Rush. Natalie Portman is fantastic and Anthony Hopkins is going through the character motions. Tom Hiddleston is brilliant as the ambivalently evil Loki set on revenge for his incarceration on Asgaard and look out for rising star Idris Elba as the celestial Asgaard gatekeeper Heimdall.

Basically Thor: The Dark World has stunning visuals, lots of action, a twisted plot without too much characterisation and basically retains its popcorn teenage audience that all the Marvel films are aiming for.

For fans of Thor, this glossy sequel not as tightly directed by Alan Taylor is thin on plot, and will not disappoint fans of the hammer wielding hunk who is part of the Avengers group. Watch out for a brief cameo by Chris Ryan as Captain America. The action is fantastic but not on the level of Pacific Rim or Man of Steel. Also starring Zachary Levi from Chuck fame along with Ray Stevenson and Jaimie Alexander. See Thor: The Dark World in a 3D cinema if possible.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

GI Joe: Retaliation

All Braun and no Brains

All Braun and no Brains

Following on the success of 2009 GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, featuring Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, comes the delayed release of GI Joe: Retaliation directed by Jon M. Chu teams Dwayne Johnson with Bruce Willis along with some newcomers including D. J. Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and is supported by Ray Stevenson (fresh from playing a Ukranian gangster on the series Dexter) as a fiendishly deranged Southerner, Firefly the muscle for the Cobra group and a little seen Channing Tatum as Duke, one of the original GI’s and Ray Park as Snake Eyes.

With a convoluted plot involving an imposter American president played with evil cynicism by Jonathan Pryce, reprising his megalomaniac villain Elliot Carver from the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, this film is nothing more than a homage to all the weapons of mass destruction, and to a male-orientated obsession with weaponry, arms and naturally testosterone fueled combat. All types of weapons are on display in this film from samurai swords to high-calibre machine guns and whilst GI Joe: Retaliation is a great action packed film to watch, one hopes that it does not inspire some unwanted teenager to randomly gun down a group of strangers in a Mid-Western American mall. Sadly in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Connecticut and the massacre at the Aurora Theater in Colorado both in 2012, Gi Joe: Retaliation‘s overemphasis on weaponry surely points to a society which is unwilling to relinquish its right to bear arms despite the many casualties.

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Gi Joe: Retaliation action spans the globe from Pakistan to North Korea, from Washington DC to South Carolina, and whilst the plot resembles a twisted version of Diamonds are Forever without the glamour and whilst there are some great moments provided by Willis and Stevenson, most of the film is filled with explosions, knife fights, infinitely explosive gun battles, exhilarating boat and car chases and perfectly provides a cinematic reason to showcase all the weapons of retaliation stockpiled by any of the G8 nations, a fill arsenal of destruction, capable of flattening any major capital city in the globe, from London to Tokyo.

Fun to watch, without much thought behind it, GI Joe Retaliation will definitely find a following in its target audience and is not as good or slick as the original film, the slightly more sophisticated GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra. GI Joe: Retaliation has some fantastic sequences in it especially the ninjas on a Japanese mountain and the odd quirky dialogue naturally involving Bruce Willis, but the script is a bit too outlandish to be taken seriously and should really be viewed in the context of a some fun Saturday afternoon entertainment. Definitely recommended mainly for bored teenage boys and young men who like the action thick and fast without much thought.

 

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