Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today was the day I couldn't even throw a proper tantrum

I'm a cusser. It's how I vent.

Not when it's wholly inappropriate, mind you. But I do use invectives to let off steam bit by bit, so that I can avoid a big blowup later.

During those rare blowups, it helps to break something. Nothing old two by four, a brick, even something as simple as snapping a branch over my knee gets it out and then it's back to business.

You may or may not remember my War of the Rose Bushes from a few weeks ago. Today, I finally got around to hauling the roughly thirty billion cuttings so that I could give the lawn a full cut.

Let me tell you something about rose bushes (even dead ones)...

...they remember. And they can mobilize in a hurry.

It doesn't matter what you do or how carefully you do it. They. Will. Hurt. Your. Epidermis. 

When I was nearly done, one of them got me in the face. And by "got me in the face" I mean "ripped across my cheek from back to front." Hoping to keep the blowup at bay, I yelled out, "Goddammit motherfuck assbutt!!! Doggone it!" and tried to pull away.

My headphones had a different idea, wrapped around a branch and e-braked my head.

That didn't help my mood.

I had to stand there and seethe while I carefully untangled the headphones. When they were free, I stormed off, and another branch gashed me across the ankle.

I deliberately dropped my mp3 player and my sunglasses on the ground, grabbed a thick birch branch and prepared to smite it against a tree. I hauled back with everything I had, and...

...the branch broke off in my back swing and hit me in the kidney. Naturally.

I was so dumbfounded by this turn of events that I just stared at the now six-inch piece in my hand. For like a minute. And threw the stump at the tree. And missed.

At that point, I actually gave up on my tantrum, calmly geared up, and went back to work.

There really is a first time for everything.

Monday, May 09, 2011

"Thor" review, because thou may or may not care

I went on a man-date this Saturday and caught an afternoon showing of "Thor." First, it's important for me to note that I'm both a comic and a mythology geek. Thor blurs those lines more than any other character I can think of off the top of my head. But I knew this going in, so I checked mythology-Dan at the door, because Marvel Thor routinely, shall we say, departs from the myth.

We chose to see the 3D show. To be honest, I don't think you'd miss anything of substance by seeing the regular version, outside of a few, "That looks pretty cool!" moments.*

I really had only one major complaint, and that's how Asgard itself was portrayed. It was far too sci-fi, and this was most evident at Bifrost (the rainbow bridge). The bridge itself looked very cool (if a little "Billie Jean"'ll know what I mean), and then it was completely smacked in the face by this spinning, whirling, teleportation device. But it also had Heimdall, who was completely hardcore, so it's kind of a wash.

Another minor gripe I had is that Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins perfectly portraying, uh, Sir Anthony Hopkins) was this hybrid warrior/pacifist/philosopher/loving Dad. Odin, like pretty much every god in every world religion ever, was kind of a douche. But I'm getting all mythology-y again, so I'll stop.

Plotwise, there's nothing groundbreaking here. Exiled hero attempts to find himself whilst another's evil machinations run unchecked, blahblahblah. You're not watching "Thor" for plot intricacies...'re watching it for fights! The film does these very well (and often), with a nice variety ranging from large-scale battles to a little mano a mano. The CGI, which had to be everywhere, blended nicely with the human elements. I can't think of an instance where the CGI was noticeable in a negative way. Like baseball umpires, not getting noticed means you're doing it right. Each battle seemed to be just the right length, as well. A special shout-out goes to The Destroyer, which was terribly awesome.

The non-battle parts were a nice mix of humor and the mandatory budding romance between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman). Not that I have a hidden talent for noticing these things, but they appeared to have some genuine chemistry. It doesn't sound like much, but anyone who had to suffer through the painful lack of chemistry between Padme and Anakin in the Star Wars prequels knows how bad chemistry can take you out of the fantasy.

Speaking of Hemsworth, I thought he did a superb job as the thunder god. That was my biggest concern as the movie started: "How can anyone really play that big stiff well?" But he did a great job playing the arrogant Thor with increasing humor, charm...and, most importantly, excess badassitude.

The acting in general was sound across the board. Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Colm Feore, Kat Dennings, and the rest (including the underutilized Warriors Three) did commendable jobs. Tom Hiddleston deserves special recognition for playing Loki so well that I didn't realize how well he was playing the role until better than halfway through the movie, if that makes any sense.

The movie had the requisite Stan Lee cameo, a few callbacks to other characters, and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye), in an uncredited cameo for nerds like me. And you should know by now to stay in your seat until the credits are done rolling.

Overall, I thought "Thor" was exactly the movie I hoped it would be, and it's yet another sign that "The Avengers" will kick unheard-of amounts of arse in 2012.


* What the hell is it with 3D movies that the coolest things are the little ones? "Thor," as "Avatar" before it, had shots designed just to showcase the 3D tech ("Hey, look, arrow coming right at your face! That'll be $5 extra!"), but the sweetest 3D effect was falling snow.