Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

The back-to-back billion-dollar box office takes of Marvel’s The Avengers and Iron Man 3 meant that Thor: The Dark World had even more pressure to live up to than the Tony Stark three-quel that preceded it. After all, Phase Two of what has been dubbed the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full swing leading up to the 2015 release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and since Iron Man 3 served as more of an epilogue to The Avengers than a driving force propelling the story into the future, it has fallen to the God of Thunder to save the (Marvel) universe.

Thor: The Dark World essentially picks up right where The Avengers left off. Having just led an alien invasion in New York City, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns to the kingdom of Asgard to pay for his crimes and is promptly locked away while Thor – his adopted brother (and heir to the throne) – is off defending the Nine Realms from assorted creatures, including the rock monster featured so prominently in the film’s trailer. However, a far greater threat soon arises as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his Dark Elves launch a plan to recapture an all-powerful mystical object called the Aether, which has just so happened to fall into the hands of Thor’s unrequited love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) on Midgard (aka Earth). Continue reading Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Review: ‘Ender’s Game’

Ender’s Game may be based on the influential 1985 science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, but the film adaptation – finally coming to fruition nearly 30 years after its publication – sadly lacks the same kind of impact as the source material. But then again, let’s take this from the top.

The film – written and directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) – takes place in a future world where Earth’s military forces rely on exceptionally gifted children to protect them from the looming threat of the Formics, an insect-like alien race that once invaded the planet. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and his team take particular interest in one young boy – conveniently named Ender (Asa Butterfield) – whom they believe can end (get it?) this ongoing conflict once and for all, becoming humanity’s greatest hero in the process. That basic premise begins with Ender’s recruitment by Graff and follows his ascent to command, all while Ender himself doubts his own ability to lead as well as the true intentions of his various authority figures. Continue reading Review: ‘Ender’s Game’

Why ‘Pacific Rim’ Was the Event Film of Summer 2013 (Sorry, ‘Man of Steel’)

Now that the autumn leaves have officially fallen, it’s the perfect time to reflect on this summer’s movie season. This year’s crop of blockbuster releases (or wanna-be blockbusters – looking at you, The Lone Ranger) feels like a mixed bag of quality. Some films proved themselves worthy of the hype (This Is the End, Star Trek Into Darkness) while others were more lackluster affairs that failed to match the significant pre-release buzz (World War Z, Elysium). Still, few films managed to capture the essence of what made summer films so popular to begin with.

The birth of the crowd-pleasing, popcorn-munching summer film arguably took place in May 1977 with a little film called Star Wars (though a case could be made for Jaws, which predates it by two years). George Lucas’ space opera took audiences by surprise, transporting them to a world they’ve never seen and providing what still stands as one of the most unabashedly fun films of all time. The Avengers unquestionably owned that title last year, and while Man of Steel may perhaps be my personal favorite Hollywood blockbuster of the season, no film released in summer 2013 embodies that sense of escapist entertainment as well as Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Here’s why. Continue reading Why ‘Pacific Rim’ Was the Event Film of Summer 2013 (Sorry, ‘Man of Steel’)

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