Reflections of the Third Eye
8 April 2013
Thor vs Lucky Number Slevin - 100 mcg capsule reviews
Now Playing: Parameter "Galactic Ramble"
Topic: L

A couple of quick takes on things recently watched....

THOR (2011) turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable and amplifies the impression that Hollywood may have figured out, finally, how to handle these Marvel comic heroes. Iron Man was the first step in the right direction, Avengers was eminently entertaining, and Thor pretty much so too. I get the feeling that someone in charge realized that these movies should be a concern for a much wider audience than nostalgic ex-teenyboppers, and so they lost the lame, Disneyfying strain that made almost all the earlier instalments shallow and impersonal. Choosing Kenneth Branagh to direct certainly indicates a motion away from the by-the-numbers instalments in the Spiderman and X-Men series. That's not to say that Thor is a particularly brilliant movie, but you don't need to care one iota for the old comic book (which I always found silly) or even know that it exists in order to enjoy this dynamic, expressive and surprisingly funny popcorn movie. The main character comes across as a surfer more than a jock, and the casting is pretty solid (Loki is bulls-eye; Anthony Hopkins as Odin perhaps less so). A straightforward yet arresting storyline, an evil-looking enemy clan led by a superbly menacing Colm Feore, and tons of beautiful CGI panoramas. If there is a sequel I look forward to it. 7/10

LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN (2006) is something different altogether, basically a late addition to the very long -- perhaps too long -- lineage that goes back to the two-fisted mid-'90s impact of Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting. British director McGuigan did the very violent and slightly disturbing Gangster No 1 prior to this, but the uncompromising tone of that flick isn't really on display here, until towards the end. Prior to that it bounces along nicely as an unfazed Josh Hartnett gets dragged into a gangster rivalry with the typical near-parody style of early Tarantino. However, the script pulls out an increasing flow of twists that should surprise even one familiar with the genre, and the resolution near the end is quite effective, not just for its intrinsic logic, but because it goes hand in hand with a sharpening of the overall tone of the movie. And just as you enjoyed that closure, another twist comes along. Credibility is stretched, of course, but the rules of the aesthetic universe are never violated, and so it works. The oft-maligned Hartnett is unusually well-cast in a role that looks back to his break-through as a cool, self-serving slacker in The Faculty, while Bruce Willis does one of the colder hit-men you've seen. Oddly, grand elders Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley are less successful, the former just going through his usual black patriarch motions, the latter seemingly at odds with his lines of dialogue. The producers could have saved a lot of money by hiring lesser name actors who would have brought more energy to these characters. Lucy Liu is as pretty as ever and gets a part with direct involvement in the plot, rather than just a love interest. Not a perfect movie or even a great one, but in this crowded genre a highly competent addition. 7/10

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 8:59 PM MEST
Updated: 10 August 2013 12:39 AM MEST

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