What is it about Idris Elba? The silver flecks in his beard? His smile when it reaches his eyes? His voice? All of the above?
I feel a little bit dirty even saying this, but Marvel Studios has recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, which began with Iron Man back in 2008 and culminated with Avengers: Infinity War only recently. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has comprised 19 films in the past decade, which has made it the highest-grossing film franchise, bar none.
For those of you who maybe got a little lost along the way:
Phase One – Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Phase Three – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Nineteen! Anyway, Marvel thinks 15 billion dollars is worth celebrating, so they’ve gathered all the actors responsible for our comic book fetish into this class picture, which you’ll need a magnifying glass in order to appreciate (luckily, with not one but TWO Sherlock Holmes among the cast [Robert Downey, Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch] those should be easy to get your hands on).
In order to do a little celebrating of our own, the 3 Assholes got together to vote on yearbook superlatives for our favourite super heroes.
Hey, we all picked from the same movie!
I resisted watching this because of a distaste I have for Molly Bloom, the real Molly Bloom. She’s extremely self-involved and remorseless. So damn you Aaron Sorkin for getting nominated and forcing me to watch this. Well, okay, since it stars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, it wasn’t a total boycott, but still, I was reluctant. Especially reluctant after being subjected to the trailer numerous times in which Molly asks a little girl “Do you know how many witches were burned at Salem?” and when the kid shrugs, she says none – they weren’t burned, they were hanged or drowned or stoned. But something in me rebelled angrily at this line; the answer is right, none were burned, but that’s because witches never existed. It was women who were burned or hanged or stoned.
Anyway, you may or may not know that Molly Bloom ran a bunch of illegal poker games, made oodles of money, and then get raided, her cash seized, and she was indicted. Facing court, and jail, she wrote a book about it, and named names.
Molly isn’t particularly likable. She thinks she’s smart and she tells you she is constantly. She could have gone to law school, you know. And probably should have. But the money was so easy, and so plentiful! And movie stars played the poker (and the Russian mob, but never mind that). She’s guilty and she’s greedy but she’s also tough as hell. Chastain taps into her resiliency , her intelligence, her strength. Idris Elba plays her “not a little bit shady” lawyer, and he’s a perfect sparring partner. Aaron Sorkin’s scripts are meaty and lesser actors may be felled by them but Chastain and Elba are not just equal to it, they master it. It’s impressive.
Aaron Sorkin isn’t just the screen writer on this, he also steps into director’s shoes for the first time. Swinging for realism, he stacked the lesser roles with real poker players, wanting even the way they handled cards to look authentic. In between takes, the actors would play poker with the real players. Extras, usually paid about $90 a day, would often leave the set the best paid people there.
Sorkin is a smart guy with a lot of famous friends; he asked for and received great advice and support from David Fincher (a Social Network collaborator) and from Kevin Costner, who stars as Bloom’s father. The story is intriguing and well-suited to Sorkin’s abilities, but the movie runs a little long and isn’t terribly cinematic (there’s a lot of sitting in a lawyer’s office, which, not coincidentally, is located in the fictional firm of Gage Whitney, which fans of Sorkin’s will recognize from The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom.
The movie didn’t change my mind about Molly but it certainly cements Chastain and Elba as razor sharp, a cut above. If you like Sorkin’s zingy TV stuff, you’ll like this just fine. It’s not a best picture contender but it’s got some damn fine performances.
So, was Molly Bloom a witch, or just a woman?
Some sort of portal opens up in the ocean’s floor, and the aliens that flow through are immense monsters called Kaiju. A war ensues that humans seem poised to lose until they develop humongous robots called Jaegars controlled neurologically by two synched-up pilots. The world’s resources are devoted to these specialized weapons, but the Kaijus only up the ante. Now, with resources dwindled and the world seeming defenseless, we’ve got one last chance, with a fallen, washed up pilot in Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and a complete novice in Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).
Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) runs the last-ditch program but even he doesn’t have confidence in the only option they’ve got left. And two wacky scientists (Charlie Day, Burn Gorman) on his team are devoting their time and energy to connecting neurologically to the Kaiju, which is either a brilliant idea that will reveal the Kaiju’s plans or a terrible idea that will spoil the only thing the human race has going for them – the element of surprise.
Pacific Rim is a send-up to the fantastic monster movies of yore with the benefit of modern effects and technology – and yes, it looks slick as hell. It’s basically Transformers fighting dinosaurs, which appeals to the little boy that exists surprisingly near the surface of nearly every man I know. This movie was released just before my dear sweet nephew Ben was born, but it strikes me now as made especially for him. I know one day we’ll watch it together, and my old bones will creak for the next six months as we painstakingly recreate every battle scene without the benefit of CGI.
I may prefer del Toro’s smaller films, but his visionary genius means that when you give him a pile of money to make a monster movie, he’s going to make you feel every inch of the enormity on screen. The scale is astonishing. Del Toro likes to create huge sets, giving his actors plenty of real stuff to react to, so though this movie is of course effects-heavy, it’s probably not as heavy as you think. There’s loads of practical stuff in there too – miniatures, and models, whole sets built on hydraulics so things will jostle exactly as they should when a mega monster stalks by. Guillermo del Toro is a world builder, and Pacific Rim has a lot of his usual hallmarks, just swathed in the gleeful fantasies of his inner 10 year old child.
This is likely the movie that keeps Michael Bay up at night, eating too much Häagen-Dazs: it’s the movie he always means to make but never knows how to.
You may have heard that a new Pacific Rim sequel (“Uprising”) is about to drop – without del Toro at the helm. He’s still producing but declined to direct in order to make The Shape of Water instead (good call, Guillermo!). Charlie Hunnam isn’t returning either (opting to do Pappillon instead, with Legendary’s blessing), so instead John Boyega fills his shoes as Stacker’s son and Mako’s new partner. Are the monsters back? Substitute director Steven DeKnight will attempt to answer – but as a noob, he seems at an immediate disadvantage. I mean, he did direct one episode of Daredevil and 2 of Smallville, so as a white male, that more than qualifies him to have a go at a $150M project. I can’t imagine that he’ll replicate anything like Guillermo’s instinct and soul, but we’ve not got long to wait: Uprising drops in March 2018.
You know that snooty, fake, half-pouty smile an airline employee gives you right before they tell you the bad news?
Ben and Alex are both trying to get home – he’s got an important surgery to perform in the morning, and she’s got a wedding to attend (her own). The snow says no. The goddamn airline employees deploy their sorry-not-sorry smiles. So Ben and Alex, strangers in an airport, devise their own workaround: they’ll hire a small plane to get ahead of the storm and deliver them to their destination. But as you can probably guess, this was not the cleverest of plans. Their plane goes down, and thanks to some handy plot devices, no one even knows where they are. Help isn’t coming. They can either stay where they are and starve\freeze to death, or they make the mountain their bitch.
I read and enjoyed the book and then I watched the movie and didn’t quite know what to make of it. This is a story of survival. Of two strangers becoming dependent on each other, knowing they will most likely die and having to make really tough decisions together. Kate Winslet is good and Idris Elba is good but together they have the chemistry of two half-wilted house plants. The movie takes an against-all-odds story and turns it into romantic schmaltz, but these two characters (and these two actors) don’t pull it off – and it’s an insult to humanity anyway. I mean, yes, IF I have to get into a horrific plane crash where my injuries make it difficult to escape but do not in any way mar my perfect looks, I HOPE it’s with Idris Elba and I HOPE we fall in love despite the fact that I have a perfectly good husband at home and I obviously haven’t shaved my legs in days or weeks or months or whatever. I’m just saying it’s not exactly probable.
The film isn’t a complete waste of time because it is Kate and Idris and even when they’re at their worst they aren’t half bad. And there’s a lot of frozen Canadian landscapes to keep your eyes busy and your mind hopefully engaged elsewhere, because if you stop to think about this plot for even a second, it all turns to mush.
I finally saw Thor and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what happened. I know Thor got hit by Natalie Portman’s car a couple of times after being banished to Earth for being a dick. Then he learned a lesson and could pick up his hammer again, so he smashed a rainbow bridge to save a planet. But then he couldn’t see Natalie anymore because he wrecked the bridge.
Except I know he got back to Earth somehow in time to appear in the Avengers but he didn’t bother to check in with Natalie. That doesn’t bode well for them and yet she’s in Thor: The Dark World so I guess she didn’t hold much of a grudge.
Thor felt different than the other Marvel movies, which is sort of a good thing except in being different it felt much less super-heroey than the others. Then again, that might be my anti-Thor bias showing. I never cared much for Thor in the comics. I always found him snooty and boring. He’s no Spider-Man, that’s for sure.
So while kudos may be due to Kenneth Branagh for trying to put a fantasy spin on Thor’s cinematic debut, I guess I would rather have seen him fight the Hulk than some random fire-breathing robot. The good news is that I might get my wish now that Taika Waititi has been handed the franchise’s reins! November 2017 can’t come soon enough, as Thor: Ragnarok is arguably my most anticipated Marvel film yet.
While I’m waiting, I suppose I could take in the other Thor movie between now and then. After being underwhelmed by Thor, I’m in no real rush to take in Thor: The Dark World. I’m far more likely to rewatch Hunt for the Wilderpeople instead. Because unlike Thor, Ricky Baker is definitely my kind of superhero.
As soon as you hear the voices of Ellen DeGeneres (as Dory) and Albert Brooks (as Nemo’s neurotic dad, Marlin), you realize how much you’ve missed these two. It’s been 13 long years since the original was in theatres but only a single year has elapsed in the ocean where they make their home.
Writer\co-director Andrew Stanton had no desire to revisit Nemo’s world until he rewatched it in 3D and realized how many unanswered questions peppered Dory’s storyline. So good news, folks: those burning questions that have been keeping you awake the last dozen years finally get their time in sea – Why does Dory speak whale? How did she learn to read? And does her disability make for a lonely life?
Dory convinces Nemo and Marlin to embark on yet another oceanwide journey, this time to find her absent family. Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton voice her parents in various flashbacks (Dory was a SUPER cute young guppie!), but with a spotty memory and so much time gone by, is it even possible to find them? How to put this delicately…just what is the life expectancy of even a vegetarian, non-smoking, yoga-adhering blue tang?
The magic of Finding Nemo is safely recaptured in Finding Dory; the story makes room for both old friends and new. Hank, the cranky octopus (or technically a septapus, if you bother to count) is a definite break-out star, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He helps Dory navigate the exhibits of an aquarium where she believes her parents live. Ty Burrell, who plays Ed’s son-in-law on Modern Family, voices a beluga whale with dubious echolocation abilities but a willingness to play “guide whale” for his visually impaired friend. In fact, the nice thing about this new world presented in Finding Dory is that the marine rescue centre in question rehabs sick fish – everyone’s got some sort of disability but they’ve got plenty of ability too, even Dory. Or especially Dory. My favourite new character is a bird named Becky, who, okay, maybe has some mental health issues, maybe is a little intellectually challenged, maybe isn’t as finely feathered as some, but MY GOD. The minute she was introduced I had a mini meltdown, wracked with laughter.
Finding Dory can’t surprise you in quite the same way the first one did, but it makes up for it in laughs and heart. Last week on our podcast, Matt hoped that the sequel would make him cry as the first one did. The verdict’s not in on his tear ducts, but mine were a leaky mess.
A memory-challenged fish sets out to find her blue family and along the way remembers that she already has an orange one. I’ve seen a lot of sequels lately that stink like 13 year old fish, but Finding Dory is a sweet and satisfying cuddle party with old friends, serving up something fresh that everyone will enjoy.