Sunday, 22 May 2011

Thor.

Thor.

Delayed viewing of another film so late reviews but this way I won't have to put up with full cinemas and people talking all the way through.

This film has a lot of buzz. Comics have become a mainstream success thanks to big hits such as Batman Begins, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Watchmen and the semi-successful (yet awful, in my opinion) X-Men series. People are opening up to the concept that this isn't a nerd haven any more and they have credibility and mass amount of entertainment values. With massive projects currently being created and with massive projects about to arrive it seems like we have a lot of "origin" stories to expect in the next two to three years. For example, X-Men: First Class is out soon as is The Green Lantern and Captain America and the most eagerly anticipated one, The Dark Knight Rises. We also have The Avengers, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Deadpool, The Amazing Spider-Man and plans to "reinvent Batman" after Christopher Nolan is done and to create the Justice League.

Plot: The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

I'm glad people have noticed that comics aren't as nerdy and as terrible as people think. They're not filled with "WHAM! SMASH! KAPLUNK!" like the '80s cartoons of Spider-Man, Superman and Batman made out. They're dark and serious with developed characters which makes you sympathise and empathise. It seems the comics have been redeemed with films that actually stay close to the original source. The new Spider-Man film will mean he's not bitten by a radioactive spider but, instead, invents a gadget which shoots webs making him human. I'm glad to see the early Batman travesties and the scarring Fantastic Four films haven't left a bitter taste and instead have been ignored - like they should have in the first place.

The story of Thor is that he's an arrogant warrior prince who's heir to the Asgard throne. He has the talent to match his massive ego, unfortunately. Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) attacks a realm known as Jotunheim, which is led by the Frost Giants who once tried to destroy Asgard and Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Odin forbids Thor from attacking Jotunheim after their infiltration mission goes array because it will spark a war. Thor disregards his father's wishes and takes his friends as a battle team (even though together, they're more like a small army. In fact, Thor alone acts like a small army) and travels to Jotunheim. For his insolence, Thor is banished to Earth without his powers and without his hammer, leaving Loki (Tom Hiddleston) alone in Asgard and the heir to the throne.

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings. Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

From there Thor meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). The usual stuff follows with them not believing what he says or where he came from and other things. The director, Kenneth Branagh, had a massive task on his hand. He had to please the comic book enthusiasts, he had to please the new punters who know nothing of Thor and he had to please the executives who were supplying him with $150,000,000 to create this film. That's a lot of people to please. The pressure to make this a success was unreal. The original screenplay was said to require $300,000,000 to create it successfully but Matthaw Vaughn (before leaving the project) managed to cut it down to $150,000,000 which made the execs agree. There are 1500-1600 visual effects in the film (according to Kenneth Branagh's diary entry in May's issue of Empire) meaning it is one of the films with the most visual effects scenes. Which makes sense considering there different realms, fights with Frost Giants and travels through the cosmos.

I've grown to accept that 3D is just "Super HD" because nothing flies at you but there's such intense clarity and focus on every detail it's hard to believe that these things are computer generated. The realm of Asgard does not disappoint in the slightest. This film doesn't try to be more than what it is though. It's an origin story of a god, a god of thunder - to be exact. A god whose arrogance is his weakness.

This could have been a disaster. It could have become the Flash Gordon (Brian Blessed was rumour - I hope as a joke) of this decade. It could have been filled with cheesy, predictable lines that would make you cringe at. In other words, it could have been a soppy Asthon Kutcher rom-com of the action films. A Steven Seagal cheese-fest. A Gary Busey insane creation which you mockingly quote to your friends. Thankfully, it's not, sort of. I have to admit there are lines in this film that I which weren't. Unfortunately, I think most are uttered by Kat Dennings's Darcy Lewis. They can, thankfully, be ignored by the grand spectacle that it is. It is an epic picture.

This is the future of CGI and the future of comic book films. Great visual effects, amazing characters with interesting back stories and deep personalities, large budgets, thoroughly entertaining with hints of semi-off-putting comedy and sour one liners. If this is what we have to look forward to then I am excited. Some of the jokes aren't even that bad and made me snicker which is much better than any other film of this type. It's weird to think that they've managed to update and condense an entire history of Thor into one film.

Look out for Jeremy Renner's cameo as Hawkeye and wait until after the credits, as per usual.

This stellar cast make this film shine gloriously like the vast landscapes of Asgard. Like the monumental buildings which inhabit it. The actors help make this a classic. Chris Hemsworth has now come from Home & Away and a brief role as Captain Kirk's dad in Star Trek to the "God of Thunder" and a film with an insane budget. This film proved his versatility; unlike Sam Worthington, he can actually not let his Aussie accent shine through.

This film seems to have it all. The classic family storyline, a romance which changes a personality, action scenes which are massive and amazing, betrayal, loyalty and a solid cliffhanger after the credits (the norm for Marvel Studios' films) which can't help but make you eagerly anticipate the progression of the storyline. It's marvellous and Marvel are truly proving that their Avengers are the greatest and soon DC will try to rival them with The Justice League. It's very hard to compete with these and will it be too late? Who knows. All I want is to Captain America to be released. Bring on July 29th.

★★★★

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Cen******p.

In an age where the media is everywhere comes control of the media. We aren’t as bad as China and Korea’s censorship rules but it’s a slippery slope. Censorship is a concept I don’t fully understand (note: by understand I mean I don't understand the reasoning behind why things should be censored, the reasons seem illogical to me) and far from agree with. Why censor anything? Censorship never existed before and never hindered progress but because it can be seen everywhere, does it mean it should be stopped? No, not really.

In the past, we were violent and sexual. In other words, we were natural. Now, we’ve developed into unnatural, controlling, conscience beings who want to live in sheltered existences, denying any wrong doing in the world. This is unnatural and it won’t help, it’ll hinder progress. We’d become naive, curious and unknown to the consequences. It feels like that would only cause more problems rather than solve them.

Lately, I’ve been revisiting a classic game which may be one of the best games ever - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. There’s something enjoyable about going around with guns, driving recklessly and BMX-ing around cities. I enjoy that, does that mean I’m going to go that outside of the game? No. Do you know why? Because I have morals, just like 99.9999999999999999999% of all gamers. We are not all psychos who search out for violence and strive for sadistic agony of others.

For example, blaming games on murders, rape and all other bad things in our world is like blaming a salad bar for obesity. All of these things have existed before hand and they’ll, sadly, continue to exist forever. Stopping games will not stop these tragedies. No matter how much you want them to stop and you want to pin the blame on something, you can’t. It’s natural and the people who commit murders lately are actually unnatural as they usually have some mental problems. Whether it’s something as simple as a chemical imbalance or a gland which doesn’t release the endorphins which make us feel guilt and remorse - or something similar, I can’t really remember and I don’t have the literature at hand so take this with a pinch of salt.

There’s an infamous serial killer who had a - pardon the pun - killer childhood. Richard Ramirez, also known as “The Nightstalker”, was beaten by his father, sexually abused by his teacher, saw photos from his “hero” uncle which were his rape and murder victims out in Vietnam (he also took a piece of them as a “trophy” and showed Richard Ramirez these as a child) and also witnessed this same uncle murder his wife. Richard Ramirez was only a child as he saw this, a pre-teen. By the time he was thirteen, he spent nights at cemeteries and looked to evil in the form of Satan. That’s what made him a brutal murderer.

Then there’s the ideal that we’re “sexualising” children when I don’t see how we can be. The media has stayed the same. For example, the “Carry On…” films were made from 1958 to 1978. They made rude and crude jokes, insinuated a lot of sexual things and had thin women running around in underwear. What’s so different now? We actually have certificates and “do not broadcast until 9” now so how can we be sexualising children now and not then? That’s why I do not understand the idea that children are more at risk now than then.

Then there are the protesting parents. The parents who protest because their child turned onto Scrubs instead of some Disney programme and parade around trying to stop “filth” and “smut” from polluting kids. If they put half as much effort into parenting as they do into protesting and stopping everything bar Elmo, Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, they’d actually be good parents and would stop these atrocities from happening. But no, they’d rather ruin it for everyone by making sure that there’s nothing “inappropriate” on television. We’ll have nothing left but white screens and then they’ll be protested against for not being racially diverse and other odd and random things. You can’t please these people.

I believe in labels and warnings. When you click the information button on your remote and there are warnings about sexual content, swearing and so on. I agree with that because then the parent has the knowledge to pick and choose what their children watch. I do not agree with the fact that McDonald’s not having adverts because parents blame it on their kids being obese. No, it’s not McDonald’s fault. It’s your fault for not being a good parent and saying yes to their every demand. Instead of hindering everyone’s demands, how about you grow a pair and stop ruining the world for the rest of us because you can’t say no to your child without some hassle. Your causing me a lot of hassle by being so irresponsible.

Let’s move onto the Glenn Beck of censorship, Jack Thompson. For those who don’t know Jack Thompson, he is a disbarred attorney who attempted to sue record labels, game distributors, retailers and so on for vast amounts of money for pedalling filth. He’s famous for attempting to get N.W.A.’s albums “Straight Outta’ Compton” and “Efil4zaggin” banned and even more famous for disagreeing with most Rockstar Games outputs like the Grand Theft Auto series, Manhunt and Bully. This is the man who has now been banned from the Florida Bar association for making outrageous claims.

Jack Thompson is a wannabe celebrity, he craves attention and that could be from the attention starved childhood that he possibly had. See, maybe he blames the media instead of blaming his parents because he feels they wouldn’t ignore him unless it was for something else. Or maybe his parents sheltered him from a real childhood. Who knows? All I know is that he tries very hard to get in the public eye with his activism by making outrageous lawsuits which he would never win. He makes claims like a $40m lawsuit against Facebook because it didn’t remove every post insulting him. To be fair, that would take a lot of effort considering most people don’t agree with him and they shouldn’t.

People are always quick to blame the games, the music, the films, the magazines and every other outlet but never quick enough to blame the actual parents or the guilty person. People tried to ban Grand Theft Auto because it, allegedly, taught a six year old boy how to drive but they don’t blame the parent who gave this six year old an eighteen certified game. They blame Counter-Strike: Source for school shootings in Germany, claiming it taught them how to shoot a gun instead of blaming the schools for not stepping in and stopping the child’s bullying and harassment. People blame other people for their own mistakes because they’d rather blame a higher power than realise their own short-comings. Personally, I’d love to individually dump all of their short-comings on them so they realise that the real problems and the real mistakes stem from them.

Everything is getting censored. This isn’t fair. There’s no TV channel, no radio station, no book, no magazine, no films which don’t have to adhere to strict guidelines making them appropriate for audiences. Life isn’t censored so why should the media? The media should be a side part of life, it has become this, a necessity for us so why censor the media when you can’t censor real life? There should be no one accountable for these bad actions bar the people who committed them and the people who failed to stop their children from doing such things. It’s not our fault your children are easily influenced. Try being a parent for once.

The latest in the possible censorship guidelines is for no “sexual dancing” on things such as X-Factor and so on. Let’s take a trip back to the ’80s where Madonna sang Like a Virgin or to the gyrating women in leotards in the past. They weren’t banned but now they should be banned? “It’s a family show, this isn’t fair.” It isn’t fair that you’d rather hinder the pleasure of the majority of viewers so your child can watch auto-tuned tripe? Makes sense that WE should bend to YOUR children. If you don’t like what your child is seeing, don’t let them see it. It’s a simple concept which I’m incessantly chanting here and that is to be a good parent and instead of changing how we view things, stop your children from viewing things.

Another thing which possibly in the censor pipeline is the ban of homosexual kissing and erotic homosexual scenes in TV programmes. Now that is plain homophobic and wrong in terms of equality. Heterosexual kisses and erotic scenes are not banned but homosexual ones are? This has probably stemmed from the lesbian storyline in Coronation Street which has been deemed inappropriate. In fact, a disgusting 300,000 complained about the first lesbian kiss scene. It’s good to see that homophobia and bigotry is still here today. They claimed it “glamorised lesbianism”. Because of that one kiss your daughters will be lesbians and men will become gay as well because they saw it happen in a TV show and the human race will stop procreating and no longer exist. No, that’s NOT what will happen you pea-brained, moronic, insensitive bigots. Although, at this rate, I think it will be the best thing to happen to this cesspool.

Apparently, real things happening in the media shouldn’t be allowed. Guess what? These things happen. Man up and start to face reality and stop sheltering everyone from real things. Being naive is not a good thing. We should all have the power of knowledge and the standard moral fibre to know that killing a prostitute after having sex with her to get your money back is very wrong. If you don’t, check yourself into a mental asylum. Games are an escape, that is their real purpose. The media as a whole is a form of artistic escapism based on possible real events. They’re all hypothetical. Some we’d like to explore, some we’d gladly like to avoid. Either way, we should know of these things otherwise curiosity kills the cat.