Thor

It should come as little shock to anyone who visits this site that the staff here are nerdlings (not to be confused with zerglings) to the nth degree. As such, it surprises one even less that several of us are not only avid comic book readers, but more specifically fans of the Marvel comics version of Thor, Norse God of Thunder. We've sat through two Hulks (one terrible, one kinda fun), two Iron Man films (both good, first one better), and a lot of trailers; but finally, ladies and gentlemen...It's Hammer Time!

I had to say it at least once. I won't do it again. Promise.

The picture starts off following a team of storm chasing astrophysicists headed by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, who at the age of 29 is finally looking over the age of 18), the film, and the team, quickly run into Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Quite literally. With a car. Not the most auspicious introduction, certainly. Quickly, however, the story rewinds back a few hundred years to develop the backstory of Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) defense of the nine realms (of which Earth is one) against the threat of the Frost Giants. The narration continues on about how it will be his future heir's duty, either Thor or his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), to hold the line. It's here where we're reminded yet again that Hopkins is a member of that elite cadre of actors of whom we wouldn't mind listening to a reading of the Sears catalogue.

As time passes, Thor is chosen as heir to the throne, (much to the consternation of Loki) though he is still brash and headstrong. Eventually he leads an ill-fated expedition into the heart of the Frost Giant kingdom, kicking ass and taking names like any storm god should, but threatening the tenuous truce that has lasted the last few centuries. Odin gets ticked, and rightfully so, booting Thor from Asgard to Midgard (Earth for those less up on their Viking nomenclature). It's here where the film turns into more of a romantic comedy, but still maintains its charm, providing a timely break from all the Magic talk and immortals. It's these elements that help cement what is essentially a high fantasy film into a relatable reality, which is a key quality for a superhero flick.

Speaking of which, as this is being integrated into the grand "Marvel Avengers film plan", there are a lot of references to the Hulk and Iron Man films, as well as a nod to the Captain America picture slated for later this year. All of this is done with much the same style and technique that the original comics did years ago, and never bogs down the film. Indeed, when a giant armored weapon of godly distruction is sent to New Mexico and the first response by a government agent is "Is this another one of Stark's?" only to be followed by "Who knows? He never tells me anything." is a nice light touch, keeping the film universe alive.

All told, Thor is a rollicking good adventure flick. It takes just the right amount of time to develop its characters enough so that when the requisite effects-laden battles begin, you actually care about the results even though you know exactly what they'll be. Additionally, the film is fun enough that when it comes home on Blu-Ray or DVD, you can still have a blast with a superhero-themed Cavalcade crew.

Losers, The

Over the years, I’ve noticed there's often a pair of movies with essentially the same plot, premiering within a year of each other: Wyatt Earp (1994)/Tombstone (1993) and Deep Impact (1999)/Armageddon (1999) ,to name a few.  In the summer of 2010, movie-going audiences will be treated to three films about spec-ops teams (that "happen" to be the best of the best). Betrayed, the teams leave their government duties behind to take on a suicide mission with personal significance.  Director Sylvain White’s The Losers holds the distinction of being first out of the gate before The A-Team (2010) and The Expendables (2010).

Based on the DC Comics book of the same name, Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his unit have been betrayed by the evil CIA super handler Max (Jason Patric), and are believed to be dead.  With the help of mysterious femme brutale, Aisha (Zoe Saldana), Clay sets out on a plan to take down Max and reclaim their identities.  This is as complicated as the film ever gets.  Luckily, The Losers has more than enough colorful characters to distinguish itself from every other paramilitary action flick on the market.

Jason Patric’s Max is the type of villain we used to enjoy in the older Bond films.  He has plans for catastrophic destruction that will strengthen the U.S. while making him a sizable amount of money.  All the while, Patric brings a creepy, business executive quality that is never unentertaining.  Contrasting this is Idris Elba’s Roque, the standard tough guy.  It almost felt like a shame, since I know Elba has the ability to make the character much more interesting.  But I can’t complain because Elba playing a tough guy is still Elba playing a tough guy.

I hadn't seen or heard of Columbus Short or Oscar Jaenada before, and was pleasantly surprised with their ability to command attention.  Jaenada especially, since his character doesn't really speak. Chris Evans, however, totally steals the show as Jensen.  Between the outrageous t-shirts and inspired moments of nerdy awkwardness, I never got tired of him.

Action-wise, there are very few dull moments.  White paces the film well by interspersing explosions, gunfights, sex-fights, and accidental murders, with punchy Oceans Eleven-esque dialogue.  However, the movie does not provide any real surprises and follows the textbook action movie format, almost to a fault. But it’s still a fun time and holds up well.  It almost does a perfect job adapting the comic book, even covering what is essentially the first story arc collected in the trade paperback “Ante Up.” I appreciated the attention to detail in plotting and the arranging of specific shots from the comic.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the ending takes a more typical “Hollywood” tract, and thus avoids the more interesting and thought-provoking commentary on the military-industrial complex that writer Andy Diggle infused throughout the comic series-but who needs thinking when there are sweet explosions!

Unborn, The

This is the sort of film that brings people together... in much the same way being held hostage does. The only way I was able to get through the movie was guffawing with good friends and complete strangers. At one point, a young man leaned forward and told me and my associates that, "Yo, Nigga is old"-and in light of the movie we were watching, it was a welcome change of pace.

The Unborn bites off far more than it can chew. With the line, "you must finish what began in Auschwitz," being the last written words of a Holocaust survivor to a doe-eye college student. Who, by the way, the film doesn't consider worth our time beyond shameful leering.

I found the co-opting of the Holocaust deeply offensive in this context, though I'm not sure why, and I wondered if anyone on the staff of the production was in position to say, "maybe we shouldn't make this movie." It's simple really, because all one has to be to think The Unborn was a bad idea is:

  1. Well-read
  2. Not a moron
  3. Some combination of one of those and Jewish.

Or, at least know one person who is Jewish, and ask them. Even then, I'm sure a local Rabbi would gladly tell you that you and your entire production company are about to make a serious error.

Almost as frustrating, this movie takes the male gaze to a whole new level by leering at this girl's cracks and assets like a strip-club talent scout at a high-school cheer-leading competition. I suppose her adolescent cuteness, barely-there derrière, and knock-kneed lankiness are the reason that no less than fourteen people die to save her from possession from a dybbuk, which is pretty much a demon that posses people (like Pazuzu in the Exorcist, but Jewish). Again, fourteen people die to protect this girl.

This whole film is completely terrible for just that reason. I like hot girls. Who doesn't like hot girlsOther girls like hot girls! But I will be damned-damned I tell you-if I think that I should throw away nearly over a dozen lives because someone is physically attractive.

Topping all this off is the main character, who after surviving this ordeal thanks to Stringer Bell (Elba) and Commissionr James Gordon (Oldman), gets a sonogram that proposes she is about to have undead demon spawn children-and she doesn't get a goddamned abortion.

What. The. Hell?

The one lesson any person with half a brain would have learned in this movie is that children are gateways of the devil. But noooooo, our heroine has to keep the baby, because. . . I actually have no idea. Her grandmother would have wanted it that way, I guess. A stupid ending to a stupid film.