Watch Richard review three movies in less time than it takes to throw a hammer! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the lovey-dovey superhero film “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the animated “The Sea Beast” and the surreal “Stanleyville.”
Richard appears on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week he has a look at the Chris Pratt revenger series “The Terminal List” on Amazon Prime, the heartfelt movie “Scarborough” on Crave and the blockbuster “Thor: Love and Thunder,” now playing in theatres.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Taika Waititi directed take on the Marvel Space Viking, the beautifully animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast,” the surreal “Stanleyville” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to talk about “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Taika Waititi directed take on the Marvel Space Viking, the beautifully animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast,” the surreal “Stanleyville” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the legacy of James Caan and new movies coming to theatres including the further adventures of everyone’s favourite Space Viking in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the animated Netflix flick “The Sea Beast” and the contemplative doc “Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the latest love story… er, superhero flick from Marvel, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the animated Netflix movie “The Sea Beast” and the surreal “Stanleyville.”
Despite featuring the most Guns & Roses music this side of a headbanger’s ball, thematically, “Thor: Love and Thunder” owes more to the frilly pop of 10cc’s “The Things We Do for Love.” Love, not thunder, is at the very heart of this Taika Waititi directed take on the Marvel Space Viking.
The film opens with Gorr (Christian Bale), a simple man praying for the survival of his beloved daughter. His planet is barren. Life is unsustainable, but his blind faith in the gods and an “eternal reward” keeps him going. When things take a turn for the worse, his god rejects him, offering ridicule instead of help.
“Suffering for the gods is your only purpose.”
In that moment Gorr obtains the Necrosword, the legendary god slaying weapon, and vows to kill all gods, starting there and then. Now called Gorr the God Butcher, he travels through the shadows, seeking vengeance.
Meanwhile, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in isolation. He has lost everyone he’s ever loved, including Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist and ex-girlfriend. He has had some adventures and gone from “Dad Bod to God Bod, but underneath all that he was still Sad Bod.”
His midlife crisis has hit hard, and since Jane dumped him, he has kept everyone at arm’s length. He now lives a life of lonely, quiet contemplation, emerging only when needed for battle. “After thousands of years of living,” “Guardian of the Galaxy’s” Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) says to him, “you don’t seem to know who you are.”
Elsewhere, Jane is being treated for stage four cancer. Chemo treatments aren’t working so she takes matters into her own hands. “If science doesn’t work,” she says, “maybe Viking space magic will.” The result is a transformation into Mighty Thor, a warrior who wields a reconstructed version of Thor’s magic Asgardian hammer Mjolnir. “Excuse me,” Thor says to her. “That’s my hammer you have there. And my look.”
When Gorr the God Butcher and his creepy crawlers come to New Asgard, the Norwegian tourist town and refuge for the surviving Asgardians, and kidnap all the town’s children, it sets off a battle that will see Thor and sidekick Korg (Waititi) alongside Mighty Thor and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), travel to the Shadow Realm on a rescue mission.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” has all the usual Marvel moves. There are action set pieces writ large, loads of characters with complicated backstories and enough CGI to keep a rendering farm in business from now until eternity.
What it also has, and the thing that makes it feel fresh, is Taika Waititi. As director, writer and co-star, he infuses the proceedings with a certain kind of silliness, and panache that sets it apart from other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
The action scenes deliver in carnage but also provide some eye candy. An early fight has overtones of 1970s air bushed van art, while the choreography includes little jokes, like an homage to flexible kickboxer Jean-Claude Van Damme. Later, in the Shadow Realm, Waititi evokes German expressionism in his use of stark black-and-white to create a world of horror, while still maintaining a Marvel feel to the action.
With these large franchises, the action scenes are where the money is, I suppose, but above all else, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a story about the power of love to hurt and heal. In the face of unimaginable losses—his daughter and his devotion to the gods—Gorr abandons love and embraces vengeance. Thor, still smarting from being dumped by Jane, learns the power of deep feelings when she suddenly shows up again.
Thor’s new weapon, Stormbreaker, might have the heft to do battle with Gorr the God Butcher, but it is love that wields the true power in this story.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” isn’t an all-out action-comedy like “Ragnarok.” It juggles several life-and-death scenarios, and much of the plot is rooted in heartache and pain, but Waititi’s singular style, Hemsworth’s charm and a heartfelt examination of the pain and pleasure of love is a winning combo.
Tom Cruise is no stranger to battling evil on screen. He’s taken on angry aliens, a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer, vampires and even Jack Nicholson as an out of control army colonel. He’s back in uniform for his new film Valkyrie battling the greatest villain of the twentieth century—Adolph Hitler. He’s Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, based on a real life Nazi who tried to kill the Führer.
The film is based on the failed July 20, 1944 coup in which Nazi officers tried to not only kill Hitler but also take control of the government and end the war. Cruise plays one of the ringleaders, a war hero who has become disillusioned with Hitler. “I’m a soldier,” he says, “but in serving my country, I have betrayed my conscience.” He concocts a plan to kill Hitler and simultaneously put Operation Valkyrie—an emergency plan to maintain law and order—into effect. Of course, this is a military operation and there is always a risk of failure.
There has been a lot of negative buzz on the internet about Valkyrie. Before seeing the film bloggers suggested Tom Cruise wasn’t the right guy for the part and later when the release date was shifted a couple of times they cried that the movie must be bad otherwise why would the studio toy with the release schedule. I don’t usually give bloggers much credit, but this time I have to admit they got it mostly right.
Cruise isn’t the right guy to play Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, but the movie isn’t the disaster that has been reported.
Director Bryan Singer tries to build suspense throughout the film, but is thwarted by history—we all know how the story ends, and it doesn’t end well for the good guys. So essentially he’s making a movie about a hero, but one whose legacy is failure. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and while von Stauffenberg’s objectives were entirely noble he ended up getting himself and his co-conspirators killed while his beloved Germany swirled down the drain.
Flawed losers can make compelling stories but this is a Tom Cruise movie and there is no such thing as a flawed Cruise character. From the opening moments of the film von Stauffenberg is anointed as a savior. Singer subtly downplays the Colonel’s Nazi background—he doesn’t wear Nazi medals, only half heartedly Sieg Heils—and paints him as a man of extremely high moral principles. In other words he’s a standard issue Tom Cruise hero who could easily be renamed Saint von Stauffenberg. In case you miss his anointment one character actually says to him, “God promised Abraham that he would not destroy Sodom if he could find ten righteous men… I have a feeling that for Germany it may come down to one.” A flaw or two may have made the character a bit more interesting and a bit less of a caricature.
Singer does introduce some nice cinematic touches, like a bomb blast that rocks a phonograph needle to a record playing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries and a shot of an SS soldier burning a fly with his cigarette rather than swatting it. Good visual images both, but after an exciting opening sequence Valkyrie becomes a talky account of a complicated plan to overthrow Hitler’s government. It’s all talk and very little action. Even the failed bombing meant to kill Hitler is little more than a puff of smoke and some splintered wood. This should have been the turning point of the film, but it’s very anticlimactic.
Valkyrie wants to be an important movie but doesn’t have the gravitas, and it isn’t action packed enough to be a great war movie. It falls somewhere between. It isn’t a success, but it isn’t embarrassing, just forgettable.
Valkyrie looks like a standard issue Tom Cruise movie with the usual explosions, intrigue and wild action. The missing key element is his megawatt smile. His Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is so stern faced he makes the expression challenged Buster Keaton seem riotously animated by comparison.
If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships then Tom Cruise has the smile that sold a million movie tickets. Wide and toothy it stretches the full breadth of his face as a pearly-white physical manifestation of his movie star charisma. Like Jimmy Durante’s nose Cruise’s grin is his most distinctive feature and the focus of his public persona.
In the beginning it lit up his face with the optimism of a young man for whom things came easily. The smile debuted in a Risky Business scene where he recruits clients for his new business. There it was a charming non-aggressive symbol of his self-assuredness.
The eighties saw the lopsided grin become a pop culture icon. It shone from the cockpit of his Top Gun F-14, gave Paul Newman’s baby-blues a run for their money in The Color of Money and reflected off the Stoli bottles in Cocktail. In each of these films the smile is 90% of the performance.
Post-Cocktail Cruise seemed to realize that serious actors don’t have gleaming smiles. A series of tight lipped Oscar-bait performances followed—Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men and The Firm—which kept the smile under wraps.
Cameron Crowe was the first director in almost a decade to realize that the smile is Cruise’s strongest suit. In 1996’s Jerry Maguire the smile is a romantic tool, revealing both heartbreak and earnestness.
The smile’s most natural performance to date is in Magnolia. As the inspirational guru of the “Seduce and Destroy” technique Cruise handed in the best performance of his career because he understood the character’s innate charisma.
The villain characters of The Last Samurai and Collateral show the smile’s emotional range. The smile is still there, but now it’s menacing. For example Vincent, the hit man in Collateral, uses an ominously icy smile when he’s about to hurt people.
In one form-or-another the smile has been front and center in all of Cruise’s biggest hits. It’s a distinguishing mark that became a trademark and without it Valkyrie just doesn’t feel like a Tom Cruise blockbuster.