Posts Tagged ‘idris elba’

thor ragnarok

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is locked up in a cage by Sartur (Clancy Brow) a demon who claims to have initiated Ragnarok, a prophesy where Sartur will destroy Asgard.  Thor thinks he’s already stopped the prophesy, but flies to Asgard to talk to his father, Odin.  (Anthony Hopkins)  Instead of Odin, Thor finds Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who seems to have replaced Odin on Asgard.  With a little help from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Thor finds Odin, only to find that he’s dying, and Hela (Cate Banchett) who is Goddess of Death and also Odin’s first born, and also Thor and Loki’s sister, plans to take over the family legacy.When Odin passes away, Hela will have infinite power.  Odin passes away shortly thereafter, and the race is on to get to Asgard.  But Thor and Loki get sidetracked to planet Sakaar, which is ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who wants to pit Thor against his champion in a gladiatorial battle.  It turns out Thor already knows the champion of Sakaar, it’s the Hulk, but will beating the Hulk be as easy as Thor thinks and can Thor get back to Asgard before Hela takes it over?

Thor Ragnarok did something that I didn’t think was possible, it made me like a Thor movie.  The previous two Thor movies took themselves so damn seriously, this was a refreshing tongue in cheek take on the Thor story that this trilogy needed in the worst way.  The story is simple, which is crucial to a superhero movie, don’t overcomplicate things.  The backstory with Hela is equally as good, and those two elements alone make this movie worth watching.  There are drawbacks however, the whole Hulk fight scene is unnecessary, in fact Hulk is unnecessary, as is Dr. Strange.  Writers have yet to find a way to integrate Hulk into any avengers movie much less make a decent Hulk movie, in this one the Hulk is little more than comedy relief.  The ending is predictable, and when Hollywood runs out of plot, it pours on the fight scenes and special effects.  Thor Ragnarok is no exception, but Ragnarok is a welcome relief from a character and trilogy that was rapidly losing relevance, in the Marvel universe.

The performances are very good.  Chris Hemsworth is a funny guy, anyone who’s seen him in the Ghostbusters remake, admittedly not that many saw this, but those who did knows he has great comic timing.  Tom Hiddleston is also great as Loki, as he plays up the sibling rivalry again, this time for laughs.  But the best performance in this film undoubtedly belongs to Cate Blanchett, yes she is evil, but she underplays the evil so well that it’s subtle, and she has a reason for being angry, and that makes her performance all the more intriguing.  There are also good performances by Idris Elba Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson and of course Anthony Hopkins. These performances make a well-written movie even better.

The direction is good, the scenes burst with color, yes there’s a lot of CGI, but the film I is not overwhelmed by it.  The pacing is good, the movie moves along at a brisk pace for a movie that’s over 2 hours long, and the director gets a lot of good performances from a very talented cast.

Thor Ragnarok  Rock on!

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zootopia

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a small-town bunny, she lives in the farming community of Bunnyburrow.  Her parents are carrot farmers, but she dreams of going to the big city of Zootopia, and becoming a police officer.  She tries out at the police academy, and after initially failing in the various physical tests, she eventually learns how to use her diminutive size and speed to her advantage.  Judy graduates at the top of her class.  Despite her brains and skill, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) gives Judy a job as a meter maid.   While writing one of 200 tickets, Judy nabs a criminal, and so Chief Bogo is forced to give her the case of Emmitt Otterton, an otter who has been missing for two weeks, his wife, Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) is desperate to find him.  Judy finds a clue that leads her to a conniving fox named Nick Wilde. (Jason Bateman)  Judy needs Nick to help her, but Nick conned Judy while she was a meter maid.  Can Judy trust Nick?  Do they find Emmitt?

This movie does certain things very well.  It illustrates the contrast of idealism versus reality well, and shows the sadness of living alone, and slowly watching dreams slip away. It does this with wonderful poignant humor.  But then, Zootopia aims for bigger themes, like the treatment of predator and prey, as a metaphor for challenges facing our society today.  I found the metaphors here a bit too obvious, and the moral a bit too heavy-handed.  Also, the story becomes too complex when the story turns to finding Emmitt, and the action sequences seem like a set-up for a Disney ride, between habitats like the Amazon jungle and the frozen tundra, and not actual plot in a movie.  Zootopia is at its best when it is light and humorous, not when it tries to imitate an action movie or deal with larger thematic elements. Therefore it is not as good as Inside Out, but still very good.

The voice acting is very good here.  Jason Bateman is the perfect choice to play Nick, the con-artist fox, who never lets people inside his façade.  Bateman handles the humor and serious scenes with equal aplomb. Ginnifer Goodwin is also equally good as Judy, who starts out very optimistic, but despite several setbacks, she remains determined to reach her goal.  Goodwin plays the sunny Judy and the determined Judy with spunk, and humor.  The chemistry between Bateman and Goodwin is very good, and the comedic timing is impeccable. Idris Elba is funny as Chief Bogo, an exaggerated John Luther type character.  JK Simmons and Shakira add to the star-studded cast.

The animation is stunningly beautiful.  The city of Zootopia is a bright beautiful, colorful city, fully of inviting inventive characters, the pacing is good, except it slows a little when the pursuit of Emmitt is underway.  Zootopia is a bit too long for my taste an hour and 48 minutes.  Several great songs by Shakira add to the overall uplifting mood of the film.

Zootopia:  It’s a jungle out there.

luther

Episode 1:

Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) returns to the police force after seven months on administrative leave.  He returns home to find his wife Zoe (Indira Varma) doesn’t exactly welcome him back with open arms.  Luther’s latest case involves a woman named Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) who comes home to find her parents murdered.  Alice has an alibi, but Luther can’t find any other suspects either.  Can he prove Alice did it?  Or did someone else murder Alice’s parents and try to frame Alice?

This show is what all cop shows should be.  From the first moment, the show crackles with excitement and tension.  The writing is excellent, the characters are compelling, and the acting is superb.  Idris Elba commands the screen like a colossus , but Indira Varma and Ruth Wilson hold their own.  The pacing is fast, quick edits make it seem faster.  This is a great show.

Episode 2:

A member of the Royal Marines, Owen Lynch (Sam Spruell) goes on a killing spree, and he’s targeting cops.  John Luther finds out who Lynch is, but can’t pinpoint his location, and so Lynch inflicts more carnage on police.  By this time the anti-terrorism unit has taken over the case, but Luther is determined to find him.  As if that isn’t bad enough, Alice Morgan is back to torment Luther, and Zoe. Does Luther track down Lynch?

The similarities between this episode, and what happened in Texas this week is downright chilling.  I had goosebumps the whole time I was watching this episode.  One of the differences is that the Lynch character is still alive to murder more people.  This is a riveting tv show, I can’t take my eyes off it.  I like that Alice Morgan is a recurring character, and she seems to be psychoanalyzing Luther, how ironic.  This is another episode that features great acting by Elba, Ruth Wilson, and Indira Varma.  The dynamic between Varma and Elba is also interesting.  The pacing is lightning quick.  Luther is always responding to one emergency after another, it’s a high adrenaline show, that’s what makes it fun to watch.

Episode 3:

A woman, Kirsten Ross (Catherine Hamilton) has been kidnapped, and there is a message scrawled in blood on her walls.  Luther suspects a Satanist named Lucien Burgess. (Paul Rhys)  The police had Burgess under surveillance years before, when another woman was kidnapped, but police bungled the investigation.  Is Luther right about Burgess or is this a copycat crime? To complicate matters, Alice hires a gang of girls to beat up Zoe’s boyfriend, Mark North (Paul McGann) and pins it on Luther.

My only criticism of this show so far, and it’s a small one, is that Luther deduces the whodunit a little too quickly for my liking. But then there’s the characters, the criminals, one more twisted than the next, the ethical questions about how Luther solves each case, and his relationship with Zoe, which is complicated, but his relationship with Alice Morgan is even more complicated.  Luther is not exactly a straight arrow, but he’s always trying to do the right thing.  I enjoy flawed characters, because we’re all flawed, and flaws make fictional characters more true-to life.  All these things, flawed characters, complex interrelationships and taut plotlines, make this drama impossible to resist.

Episode 4:

Luther’s investigating a serial killer, and he boils it down to a cab driver, but does he have the right man?  Henry Madsen wakes up from his coma, and so Luther ends his “relationship” with Alice Morgan, how does Alice react? Mark North finds something out about Zoe.  How does he react?

This is another great episode, they really get into the muck of this killer’s pathology, and it’s quite complicated.  It takes Luther some time to figure this one out, it was nice seeing him struggle with this one for a while.  Alice Morgan shows her pathology again, lest the viewer think she’s the girl next door.  The ending is quite appropriate.

Episode 5:

James Carrodus  (Thomas Lockyear) is a world renowned art dealer, but he’s sold some art forgeries  to some Russians, and now they want their payment back in the form of 18 diamonds,  in two hours, or they will kill James’ wife Jessica.  Zoe gives Luther an ultimatum.  How does Luther react?

This is probably the best episode of all the episodes.  Not only is there one plot twist, there are two.  The robbery and kidnapping ae exciting enough, but when the two twists kick in, it just kicks this episode into the stratosphere.  Great acting, by everyone involved, except for the Scotsman playing an American with a bad accent.  Breathtaking pacing, and a heartbreaking ending.

Episode 6:

John Luther is the prime suspect in a murder.  Luther is now on the run and trying to prove someone else committed the murder.  He uses every tactic in the book to draw the person he suspects near him.  He uses his partner Justin Ripley, (Warren Brown) Mark North, and Alice Morgan to try prove his innocence.  Is he innocent?  Does Luther get his showdown with the person he suspects?

This is the perfect ending to a perfect series.  All the regulars play their parts so well, and Idris Elba tops it with a bravura performance throughout.  Not only does it resolve the cliffhanger for season 1, it sets up a cliffhanger for next season, great writing, breakneck pacing, exciting throughout.

 

A week ago I did not know what Luther was, but then while channel surfing, I saw the first episode on a local PBS station, and I was hooked.  I guarantee you, if you watch the first episode, you will be too.  Every episode has great writing, great acting and direction that pulsates with action.  Also, I like that BBC shows are not that long.  This show was six episodes long, and I watched it in a week. It’s easy to binge watch a season in a week or a day or two.  American tv series take a much larger commitment of time. Watch Luther if you haven’t already, it’s a five year old series, so I’m late to the party, but it’s on Netflix, so you can watch it at your leisure.

Luther:  A copper that’s pure gold!

The Jungle Book 2016

Mowgli (Neel  Sethi) has been raised by a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) for most of his life.  Bagheera leaves Mowgli with a pair of wolves named Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha, (Lupita N’yongo) but he knows the arrangement is only temporary.  Bagheera wants the man cub Mowgli to go to the man village and be raised by men, Mowgli wants to be raised by the wolves.  During the dry season during a water truce, Sher Khan, (Idris Elba) gets his first look at Mowgli, and promises to eliminate the man cub when the water truce is over.  During the rainy season, Bagheeera starts to take Mowgli to the man village, but is attacked by Shere Khan, Mowgli escapes with the help of some water buffalo.

He survives a mudslide, but is trapped by a seductive python named Kaa, (Scarlett Johansson) who plans to make a meal out of Mowgli, but he’s saved by a friendly bear named Baloo, (Bill Murray) who is in desperate need of some honey.  Mowgli uses his man cub tricks to rig up a contraption to get the honey for Baloo, but by this time, Bagheera has tracked Mowgli down, and wants to take him to the man village.  Just as Mowgli is ready to leave, he is kidnapped by some monkeys loyal to King Louie.  (Christopher Walken) Louie wants to know how to control fire, or as the animals call it “the red flower.”  When Mowgli refuses to share the secret of fire with Louie, Louie tells Mowgli a secret that both Baloo and Bagheera didn’t tell Mowgli. What is the secret, and what does Mowgli do once he finds out about it?

This version of The Jungle Book is definitely not the kid-friendly version that Disney first animated years ago.     It is a much more serious and intense telling of the Rudyard Kipling story, young kids might be scared by some of the animal fights, and would not understand subtle casting decisions like casting Scarlett Johansson as a seductress.  This is more a pre-teen adult movie, than a young child story, and parents of young children might be sorry that they took little kids to see it.  But for older kids and adults this is an interesting story, with a backstory in an interesting place, and appropriate use of CGI.  The ending was expected and appropriate, but again, maybe too intense for young kids.

The acting is excellent.  Ben Kingsley makes Bagheera sound regal and noble, he is Mowgli’s protector, and makes sure everyone is aware of that.  Lupita N’yongo really plays up the maternal instinct in this movie, and it’s amazing that an actress who’s so young, can play a mother figure so convincingly.  Idris Elba plays Sher Khan as a fiercely sinister creature who rules by intimidation, the viewer can feel the seething rage in Sher Khan.  The viewer understands his rage as the story unfolds.  It is not by any means a one note performance. Scarlett Johansson is also very good in an integral scene. Bill Murray hams it up relentlessly as Baloo, but the comedy relief is a welcome break from the serious tone throughout .  Christopher Walken plays Louie as a darkly comic villain, and does so effectively. Neel Sethi is a kid, and sounds like one, so nothing really good or bad about his acting, he handles the serious and comic bits well for a kid.

Director Jon Favreau really knows how to tell a fantasy, story, he knows how to pace the story and when to insert plot points to keep the story interesting, he made the talking animals look natural, and doesn’t  use  CGI excessively ,or should I say it doesn’t look excessive.   Favreau directed one of my favorite movies, Elf, and he does a great job keeping the story coherent, while working with all CGI animals. The key was, the animals looked natural, and didn’t look like they stepped out of a video game. He also gets very expressive voice acting from all of his stars. Favreau also wrote, directed, and starred in the excellent movie Chef, he is obviously a talented guy.

Because of its success, Disney is already planning a sequel, they will probably suck the life out  of Kipling’s books, I hope not.

The Jungle Book:  Khan you see it? Shere you Khan!