Thor

Movie Man Mike gets hammered.

Thor. (B-)  I didn’t much care for the comic book character; it was really kind of boring.  But the big screen, some CGI, and Chris Hemsworth combine to make his an engaging movie-going experience.   This is the first of a summer filled with action heros and it’s worth the price of admission.  The film has some big-name actors in it as well, with Anthony Hopkins playing Thor’s father, Odin.  Rene Russo is Thor’s mother.  Natalie Portman plays Thor’s earth-girl love interest.  And Tom Hiddleston, who has previously mostly had a TV career, is a quite good as Thor’s brother, Loki.

You’ll want to stay through the credits because there’s a preview of Thor’s next film—The Avengers—which is currently being filmed.  The Avengers is set for release in 2012 and will have an all-star cast and a whole line-up of superheros, some of whom will have their own stand-alone films out this summer.  You won’t want to miss these action-hero films if you want to be on the same page when The Avengers hits the big screen.   Also, The Avengers is being written and directed by Joss Whedon, who is known for his ingenious work with the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Serenity.

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Bridesmaids

The Bleacher Bum sends us this new review.

BRIDESMAIDS: (B+)  This movie is being billed as the female version of The Hangover. While I think that is unfair, Bridesmaids is a buddy comedy about an upcoming wedding. Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, who is going through a very rough patch in life.  Her best friend is recently engaged Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Lillian asks Annie to serve as Maid of Honor. Four other bridesmaids round out the primary cast.  The six women encounter highs, lows, and everything in between on their way to the big day.  Wiig is awesome as the lead character, but Melissa McCarthy, the groom’s sister, steals the movie. The movie produced different types of laughter, which is unlike The Hangover. But like The Hangover it produced a good time. Go see it.

Rango

A new review from The Movie Snob

Rango  (C).  This is a bizarre animated movie with a traditional plot.  Rango (voice of Johnny Depp, The Astronaut’s Wife) is a pet chameleon who, by a mishap, is suddenly lost in the Mojave Desert.  He makes his way to the town of Dirt, a classic Old West town populated by the most motley group of settlers you ever saw.  They all live in terror of a marauding hawk, so when Rango accidentally kills the fiend, he is quickly made the Sheriff of Dirt.  But darker forces are at work; the town’s water has mysteriously run dry, and Rango has very little time to unravel the mystery before the townspeople will have to sell out to the unctuous mayor and move away.  But this traditional plot is festooned with all sorts of weirdness.  One weird thing is that the animation is really awesome, but the characters are truly ugly, including all sorts of varmints like a horned frog, a bird that somehow survives with an arrow shot through one eye, and a bunch of moles.  Why take a lovely gal like Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and make her voice an ugly brown lizard?  Beats me.  Anyhoo, it’s weird enough to be offputting, and yet somewhat compelling at the same time.  And be aware, it is rated PG for a few cuss words and adult references

African Cats

From the desk of The Movie Snob

African Cats  (A-).  I guess Disney releases a new nature documentary every year now right around Earth Day?  Anyhoo, this is a stunning piece of film making.  The movie focuses on two mothers: Sita, a cheetah with five tiny cubs, and Leila, an aging lioness with one cub named Mara.  Sita is alone in her task of raising her cubs, and she has to deal with all the predators that come her way (hyenas, lions, other cheetahs) while simultaneously feeding herself and her cubs.  Leila is part of a pride, but she has troubles of her own–the sole male in the pride, Fang, is threatened by another male named Kali, plus Kali’s three grown sons.  Throw in dangers like crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and drought, and it’s enough to give any mother fits!  I don’t know how they got this footage, but some of it is really amazing.  Although it’s rated G, you can predict that there will be some violence, and some animals are not going to survive.  I’d give it an “A,” but it started to feel just a little padded at the end, and the animals are ridiculously anthropomorphized by the narration (appropriately provided by known nature-lover Samuel L. Jackson, Snakes on a Plane).  Do watch the ending credits for some amusing bylines for the various animal stars.

Gulliver’s Travels

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Gulliver’s Travels (2010) (C-).  The explosive talent of Jack Black (High Fidelity) is wasted in this blah retelling of the Gulliver story.  Black plays a loser stuck in a dead-end job in the mailroom of some publishing company.  He has a crush on the travel editor (Amanda Peet, The Whole Ten Yards), and somehow manages to get himself assigned to do a story on the Bermuda Triangle.  Before you can say “S.S. Minnow,” he is magically transported to the land of Lilliput, where everybody is about three inches tall.  Lots of uninspired shenanigans follow as the former loser becomes the Big Man on Campus.  Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) are wasted in their small roles as Lilliputians.  Don’t waste your time on this study in mediocrity.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

New review from The Movie Snob

Cave of Forgotten Dreams  (B+).  Acclaimed director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) brings us another interesting documentary.  In 1994, explorers discovered a cave in southern France, now known at Chauvet Cave, that contained some of the most remarkable cave paintings in the world.  For one, they are the oldest known paintings, dating back some 32,000 years.  Apparently a rockslide sealed the cave off about 20,000 years ago, so the paintings have remained undisturbed ever since.  Herzog got permission to take cameras in and film the cave’s interior, and he interviewed some of the scientists who are involved in the ongoing study of the cave.  The paintings are almost entirely of animals, including horses, bison, rhinoceroses, and even extinct animals like mammoths and cave lions.  Lots of bones were found in the cave as well, especially of the now-extinct cave bear.  You’ll almost certainly never get to see the cave in real life, so if you have any interest at all in this sort of thing, check it out.  Oh, it’s showing in 3D in some places, but I saw it in 2D and didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything.

Jumping the Broom

The Bleacher Bum gives us a view from the outfield.

Jumping the Broom  (B+).  Jumping the Broom is a romantic comedy made by Dallas’ Bishop T. D. Jakes’ movie company (Jakes has a small role in the film . . . as the reverend).  It stars Laz Alonso (Jason) as the groom-to-be and Paula Patton (Sabrina) as his future wife. The movie centers around their wedding and the clash of two families from different tax brackets.  Veteran thespians Loretta Devine and Angela Bassett are their mothers, who don’t see eye-to-eye on any detail. The movie has a strong ensemble cast and touches on issues of relationship, wealth, cultural history, and family secrets. It is good story-telling, while causing some laughs and even a tear or five.