Sunday 22 May 2011

New Reviews- POC4, Thor, Hanna

       So apparently the world was supposed to end yesterday...and I had this review in mind for a very appropriate film, i.e. Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men. But it seems my laziness is way past apocalyptic urgency. Still seeing that Harold Camping has been very wrong, and "the real end of the world" is still 19 months away, I do have the opportunity to post my review! Soon that is...

         For now, I think it's makes sense to write about the new Pirates film, which follows At World's End (see what I did there?!) And also the other two recent releases I saw- Thor and Hanna. Here it goes:

1) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides- This film for me picked up where the Curse of the Black Pearl left off. I mean I love Johnny Depp and I love Captain Jack Sparrow but Dead Man's Chest and At World's End were a bit of a mess, especially the latter. It had gotten too confusing, I admit. So I was little skeptical about On Stranger Tides...but it delivers beautifully. In this one, we see Capt. Jack, Barbossa, and Gibbs are on the search for the treasured Fountain of Youth, along with Jack's ex-flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz), the dreaded pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the British, the Spaniards, etc. 

         There's a lot of swashbuckling involved, along with mermaids and obviously Capt. Jack escape-specials. The story was much more simpler, focussed on a few things and the logic behind all that was clear. The witty dialogues were there, with good action scenes, and a great chemistry between Depp and Cruz (unlike that which he had with a certain Miss Jolie), all of which fueled the film. There was the "new" Will and Elizabeth in the form of a clergyman Phillip and a very Brooke Shield-y mermaid Syrena. They were okay, only mildly annoying but no where near the heights of super-painfulness that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley achieved. They were played by Sam Claflin (who will forever now be known as "Cheekbones") and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey. Though I missed the grand Black Pearl and the gorgeous locations throughout most of the film, this Rob Marshall piece looked fine enough, with the scary-looking Queen Anne's Revenge and the darker atmosphere. My favourite things were the cameos- from the truly enchanting Gemma Ward as a vicious mermaid, to Capt. Jack's father and inspiration Capt. Teague played by the legendary Keith Richards, to the always grand Richard Griffiths and one very special royal dame whose completely unexpected appearance made me squeal with joy!

           All I can say was that this was a decent effort, and I am very glad for the focus being brought back to the man who started it all and is the very soul of the franchise- Mr. Johnny Depp. I mean every expression, every move, everything he says is brilliance! I will always love the hero that Capt. Jack is and his tenacity towards life. Though he is a rogue and often dishonest, he is often more right than anyone else ever. I have started to, mildly, feel bad about how predictable Mr. Depp's unpredictable career choices have become, but I guess if he continues to perform the way he does (save The Tourist!), I will still be very proud to be his number one fan. I mean I was watching Secret Window this very morning, and there's a jiffy towards the end when he makes this freaky mouth movement, and it makes soooo much sense in context with the film. These tiny details, that Capt. Jack is full of and Depp can perform perfectly, almost unconsciously, is what makes him...them great.

           Favourite Scene- The beautiful mermaids attacking Blackbeard's crew. Reminded me of the all-jazzed-up ladies from another Rob Marshall feature.

           Rating- 9 out of 10- for a relatively simple and exciting action adventure, one which caused the cinema hall where I was watching to repeatedly clap out loud (very enjoyable experience I must say). The place where it lacked was to show off the fabulous Penelope Cruz more, along with leaving certain loose ends. And Capt. Jack rules ofcourse.

2) Thor- It was fun. I had very less expectations for it, not understanding how in the world could Kenneth Branagh direct an action flick. The tale is about the Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, the son of Odin who is the ruler of Asgard...who in his childish and brawnish recklessness decides to provoke the Frost Giants, inhabitants of Jotunheim, who have been in a very volatile truce with Asgard. As a punishment Odin strips him of his powers and exiles him to Earth, where who should he find but Natalie Portman, or rather scientist Jane Foster and her skeptical team. At the same time, in Asgard, Odin has fallen sick and the throne is passed on to his younger son, the mischievous Loki. Along with Thor, his legendary weapon Mjolnir has also been sent to Earth, where only he who is can possess it and Thor's powers. And who should be after it but Agent Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. (something which I remembered only after the film had ended- sorry Ironman 2 didn't really leave an impact on me). That's about the premise of the story. 

          Chris Hemsworth plays the banished Norse God/Superhero. My god he is biiiiiiig. He was good, having the over-confident look about him that a spoilt and proud prince is expected to have. He handled the action scenes well, and it was believable when he threw his hammer around. Honestly the only person I really liked was Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki. Now everyone knows about my affinity towards villains, especially super-villains, and this was no different. I liked his character, the things he did and the reasons behind them. Hiddleston plays's him with the subtlety I always imagined a character like Loki to have. I was totally rooting for him.

         There are other people too- Odin is played by god of all gods- Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jane played by the absolutely stunning Portman ofcourse, her assistant Darcy was played by the always delightful Kat Dennings, her mentor Erik was the nice and supporting Stellan Skarsgard; Clark Gegg reprised his role as Agent Coulson. They were all fine, but I think completely unnecessary. Everyone was pretty much unnecessary. But the action sequences were good, and Asgard was very cool-looking. I thought that the coming of Thor on Earth could have been shown better, it all seemed too easy for a God being able to adapt amongst humans. And the action sequence with the Destroyer was terrible... it made no sense to me at all.

            Favourite scene- The first time Thor and his friends go to Jotunheim to fight the Frost Giants. Thor's superior fighting skills, done with utmost ease, along with the fighting styles of all his friends is shown properly here.

            Rating- 7 out of 10- for a proper beginning of the much-awaited superheroes season (no I don't count Green Hornett...or Green Lantern for that matter, but more on that later). The action sequences were cool, the super-villain was just perfect, and there was enough going on to keep the film from slowing down. On the downside, almost everyone was a prop, and the possibilities of Thor's exile were not exploited properly.

3) Hanna- Slick, cool, gorgeous. I've always admired Joe Wright's films visually, and this one does not disappoint. Ofcourse this is very different from his previous enterprises, but just as fruitful (I haven't seen The Soloist though). Hanna starts in the Arctic Circle, where we meet Erik and his daughter Hanna, who have been training all her life for a special cause. And that is to kill CIA agent Marissa Wiegler. When Hanna thinks she is ready, Erik goes into hiding and Hanna is brought to Marissa. But the devious Wiegler is suspicious about this innocent-looking young girl and sends in another woman, and she watches in horror and amazement as Hanna turns into this adept and ruthless killer who kills her double and escapes unscathed. Out in the real world for the first time, Hanna must find her father, the truth about her own self, the cause of her enmity with Wiegler and what it is to be normal.

         Hanna is played by the very alluring and devastatingly talented Saoirse Ronan, Erik by the cavalier and awesome Eric Bana and Wiegler by the sublime (Queen) Cate Blachett. Very much like Atonement, Ronan truly shines the most in this film. She has a German accent throughout, speaks many languages, is focussed and ruthless, yet full of wonder. Something like electricity amazes her more than I think anything can amaze me. I loved how childish she was, but still deadly enough to scare many grown-ups. She meets a travelling English family and befriends their daughter Sophie, who is about the same age as her. The contrast between them is both amusing and upsetting. Hanna's innocence- sexually and generally, reminds me of a Mean Girls quote, "I love her. She's like a Martian!" I bet Sophie thinks this...especially when both of her go on an outing with two boys. Jessica Bardem played her and she was very funny. 

         Bana and Blanchett were very good too. I do love it when she plays the baddie (one of the few saving graces of the slightly absurd Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and Hanna did in many ways found her match in her. Except that's where the film also lacks for me because I do not understand why noone else cares about finding her. Her secret is a big one, and the fact that only Wiegler knew about it and the government particularly didn't do anything when a lethal, albeit tiny assassin kills people in their premises. I also thought the big reveal and climactic fight was too short, and well anti-climactic. As said earlier, the look of the film was fantastic, with the Arctic wilderness, the Moroccan and Spanish backdrop and the supercool CIA safehouse. The Chemical Brothers provided the music and it worked beautifully in the action sequences.

        Favourite scene- The escape from the Moroccan safehouse. The music, the lights, the action, Saoirse's eyes... pure cinematic magic. I was jumping up and down my seat, I do not kid you. 

        Rating- 9.5 out of 10- An almost perfect thriller. Stellar performance from Saoirse Ronan and the supporting cast was very good as well. Girl Power!!! The ending could have been better, and that was the only flaw. A superb effort by director and co-writer Joe Wright!

Random observation- I think if few elements of Hanna and Thor were interchanged- more of the real world in Thor and more of action in Hanna, they would've been considerably better.

        So I hope people watch these films... The Hangover 2 is out next week and I have seen the very desperately anticipated X Men: First Class. I do wish they are very good as well. What about you??

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