Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

Hitchcock (2012)

“That, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense.”

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson

HitchcockAnthony Hopkins dons a fat suit and prosthetics to become Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most notable directors of all time. In this round-about-biography we are shown part of the famous director’s life throughout the filming of Psycho, arguably his greatest film ever, though his relationship with his wife is surprisingly pulled to the forefront.

Some have deemed the run up to this film to be rather misleading towards the nature of it. Rather than just focus on his struggles with getting Psycho underway, Hitchcock actually focuses on Alfred’s home life and relationship with his wife, writer and collaborator, Alma Reville, which was going through a bit of turmoil at the time. The strains of Psycho are merely touched upon.

Hopkins does a good job as Hitch, though I think the prosthetics on his face didn’t quite capture the director’s features properly. Nevertheless, I really liked his performance. Scenes where Hopkins had to take center-stage and give speeches for instance, fit in really well with how I would imagine Hitch to be – confident, passionate and vibrant – and his mannerisms, accent and speech rhythm all seemed spot on too.

Helen Mirren as Alma was almost as good to watch. Opting to be a confident, vivacious opponent to Hitch and his somewhat out-there ideas, she was the only one to really rival him. We see this fire come out of her in one of her better scenes when she is one on one with Hitch and the way she was portrayed in the media – as a mousy, more reserved woman – don’t nearly meet this portrayal by Mirren, which was a bit of an eye-opener.

Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel play, quite frankly, a couple of sex symbols. While they do actually have roles that are involved with the filming of Psycho, as previous discussed, this wasn’t explored as much as you’d hope so we don’t see much from them. They give quite average performances, nothing special, so it’s fair to say they were most probably cast to draw in the audience. It would have been nice to see more from them though.

One thing about this film that I didn’t expect it to do was show how annoying and inconsiderate Hitch could be. Saying that, it also insinuated that Alma was the real brains behind Hitch’s operations, taking away credit from this director’s work. Obviously scenes like this are a bit biased and subjective, so I didn’t want to take onboard everything without question, but it was certainly interesting to see Hitchcock’s life shed in this light. Gervasi also goes as far to show us that Hitch wasn’t a ‘normal guy’ in the general sense, especially when we’re briefly shown his ‘blonde girl’ obsessions, but doesn’t delve too deep into this.

Hitchcock is, disappointingly, not really about the filming of Psycho, though it does look further into the director’s life around the time of filming. Hopkins does a good job as the man in question and Mirren pulls off a good Alma, though I’m afraid to say it could have been a lot better.

Star rating:  6/10

Directed by Sacha Gervasi.

Running time 98 minutes.

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Avengers Assemble (2012)

“I have too much swag for this place”

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth

The Avengers is a film a lot of people have been looking forward to for a long time. As we have progressed within the Marvel superhero genre, from The Hulk to Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, the next step to bring them all together was hotly anticipated.

When Earth is threatened by Loki and his army, Nick Fury – director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D – assembles a team of superheroes under The Avengers Initiative. As one team, The Avengers struggle with power issues, ego issues, morals and plans of attack, but there is one thing they all are striving for, a win against the baddies. Full of fast paced action, great one liners (I’m looking at you Iron Man) and extraordinary graphics, Avengers Assemble deserves the hype it has been getting and more. It’s a superb film.

All of the cast do a great job in bringing these iconic characters to life. Where we’ve seen most of these actors in these roles before, Avengers Assemble gives them all another chance to further establish their mark in their roles.

For me, Robert Downey Jr. has redeemed himself as Iron Man. I have always thought the character was a great match to Downey’s persona, yet in Iron Man 2 he kind of loses his charisma and zang a bit. The Avengers sees him back to his great self though; funny, witty, over confident and smug – with a relative ease I might add! Downey is a perfect Tony Stark.

Chris Hemsworth is great as Asgardian God, Thor, and has some really good battle scenes – I think some are even better than the ones in his solo film. I love his old timey way with words against this new age of cocky, egotistical superheroes too and he indirectly provides one of the funniest moments of the film. It’s also great to see him working opposite Tom Hiddleston again, these two have a great chemistry.

While I have yet to see Captain America and give a fair comparison on Chris Evans’ performances, judging by this film, Evans does a great job in both. I will admit that I didn’t like his character the most and I hated his costume (it was that mask!) but I feel that stood alongside the other superheroes, he was more willing to solidify his character and act bigger and better than he did before. I say this as I’ve seen it of everyone in the film though. It must be the effect of bringing together a bunch of people that consequently form this powerhouse of a team, where they all encourage and push each other on.

The role I was anticipating the most was from Mark Ruffalo. As The Hulk, Ruffalo far exceeds any previous attempt to capture the essence of the infamous green beast and gives more of a compassionate, human side to him. I also enjoyed that he was a person for most of the film and not a raging animal. It meant we saw a bit of actual acting and character development, not just some super CGI. Ruffalo also pulls off the nerdy, tough guy look well! (I think it’s the glasses combined with the muscles, but maybe that’s just me!)

We briefly saw the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 but The Avengers gives her character a bit more substance with some more backstory. She’s not a superhero as such, but a highly trained spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D just like Hawkeye, with whom she co-exists. Scarlett Johansson does great in this role, at times she had me thinking that with being a woman she wouldn’t be able to match the big boys and would have been portrayed as being vulnerable or weak against them, but how wrong (and sexist) I was! She’s not there as eye candy or added to the cast as a romantic foil; she’s both physically and psychologically powerful, giving everyone a run for their money.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye was also a great addition. Known as the “World’s Greatest Marksman”, Hawkeye is no superhero either, he’s really just a guy with a high skill set. He oozes a confidence that most superheroes do allowing him to fit in really well with the rest of the cast. Though I wasn’t really concerned about a backstory with this guy, I was happy for him to just do his thing, a nice spin-off in the future would do just fine.

The way the tension and conflict is built within the team is great, though somewhat expected. Most of the heroes don’t like each other which gives a lot of different textures to be played with. Some rose to the top through solo endeavours (Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk) while others were helped, coxed or directed along the way (Captain America, Black Widow). This gives a great complexity running though the film as these larger than life characters, that aren’t used to working together, bump heads. Whedon must have had a great time playing around with different scenarios and he has totally succeeded.

To really grasp all the concepts, subtle jokes and background stories of each character, I would suggest watching all of the individual films concluding with The Avengers. Though it must be said, some of these films aren’t all that great and won’t get you all that hyped for The Avengers. I think it’s possible to get by without seeing all of the films, though I would suggest Thor and Captain America to help fill in some background details. I have only seen Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor and The Hulk (of which I thought all adaptations from Eric Bana to Ed Norton were poor), but have yet to see Captain America and found it fine. However, one would question why you would have an interest in The Avengers if you haven’t seen any of the previous films or read the comics.

Avengers Assemble is everything fans of the Marvel series have been hoping for. While there are some who think the script is too light and airy, we’re dealing with superheroes – it’s not meant to be overly dramatic but just awesome, packed full of action and an overload of cool graphics – which it definitely is. I think the writers should be proud of themselves, they brought together everyone in one film and made it work, mannerisms, individual backstories and unifying qualities, even leaving space for character development.

A fantastic film!

Star rating:  8/10

Directed by Joss Whedon.

Running time 142 minutes.