Chris Hemsworth

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

By the end of the year, we will be ten films deep in Marvel Studios mythology, which is quite a feat by any standard. While not every film can be the billion-dollar blockbuster like The Avengers or Iron Man 3, the smaller ones still make plenty of money worldwide and provide a substantial amount of connective tissue in the overall universe. In November 2013, Thor: The Dark World came out, performing about as well as its predecessor (which is to say good, but not great). The film wraps up a lot of Loki’s storyline from Thor and The Avengers, but more importantly, the mid-credits sequence leads into The Guardians of the Galaxy, due out in August 2014. For the DVD and Blu-ray release, director Alan Taylor sits down with Marvel guru Kevin Feige, villainous heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau to talk about the film and reveal the behind-the-scenes process of not just making a superhero film, but making an installment in a much larger franchise.

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taylor

Thor: The Dark World may be director Alan Taylor‘s first feature film, but this isn’t his first rodeo behind the camera. Far from it, actually. Taylor has directed episodes for some of your favorite television shows: Mad Men, Deadwood, Rome, Bored to Death, and The Sopranos. Taylor brought those series to real highs. For The Sopranos, he helmed the episode where Tony killed his nephew Christopher — one of the most dramatic moments of that series. But it was Taylor’s time on Game of Thrones that landed him Thor: The Dark World. The first Thor often felt like more of a cartoon than a movie, and Marvel wanted to ground those rainbow bridges for the sequel. That doesn’t mean Thor: The Dark World is a gritty, humorless experience, but has a “dirt” to it, which is how Alan Taylor describes the style of the film. Speaking with Taylor from the London junket, he went into the differences between television and film, directing his first feature, and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

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Thor: The Dark World

So far Marvel has had a terrific run. They’ve been putting out solid films, and the way they set up Phase I was an astonishing feat. They’re risk-takers, and releasing a Thor movie in 2011 was one of those risky decisions. Would an audience accept a Norse God and all the fantastical mumbo jumbo that came with him? They did, making Thor a success for the studio. Its sequel, Thor: The Dark World, makes up for a few of the previous film’s issues, while also bringing its own set of serious problems to the table. This time around Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is facing more struggles than ever before. His relationship with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has suffered after years of distance, he’s fighting small-scale wars, he’s still conflicted over his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and, to make matters worse, a D-movie villain, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of the Dark Elves, shows up for revenge. Malekith not only shakes up the world of Asgard, but also any dramatic potential to be had with the more interesting conflicts set up but given no satisfying payoffs. So much, with the exception of director Alan Taylor‘s eye, is given little time to breathe.

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ENTERTAINMENT-US-RUSH-WRITER

Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan have taken a real liking to each other over the years, and for good reason. With Frost/Nixon and Rush, the two have produced critical darlings that pit opposites against each other. While the 2008 drama was about fighting with words, Rush – which portrays the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) — the battles are done on a race track. Morgan wrote about their budding relationship out of pure, personal interest. This started off as a spec script which eventually led to a $50m British indie, not your standard Hollywood-produced Oscar contender. Of course it also helps when a storyteller has some distance from the story. Here, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter talks about time’s effect on biographical movies, his collaboration with Howard and what he modeled the structure for the Rush script after.

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Rush

Ron Howard is kind of an everyman’s director. He isn’t above his audience, knows exactly what they want, and generally gives it to them without pandering. Sometimes the end product doesn’t workout — see The Dilemma or the Robert Langdon movies to learn that the hard way — but when it does, the final film can be quite special, especially if Howard really has something to say. With Rush, he definitely does. It’s easy to see why Howard was attracted to the characters at the center of Rush including competing Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The film raises questions every filmmaker must grapple with: What is success? How do you overcome failure? And how can one bring personality and passion to a business? The balance of art and commerce is something Howard’s dramas – Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and A Beautiful Mind — have achieved in the past, and so does Rush.

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thordarkworld-lokiposter-full

Everybody’s favorite Asgardian brothers are prominently displayed in two new posters for Thor: The Dark World, courtesy of Marvel. The two posters, which separately feature Thor and Loki, are kind of a breath of fresh air after the last poster, which crammed every single character from the last film plus a thousand bolts of lightning into the frame. Marvel is giving the people what they want, which is a whole bunch of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. The Loki poster does a fantastic job capturing the character’s essence as Hiddleston sits in golden ruins with a mischevious grin on his face while fire rains down from the sky behind him. What did he just do?? More importantly – why is Thor’s hammer Mjolnir sitting in the bottom righthand corner with no Thor in sight? At first glance, the Thor poster (which you can see after the break) is just an unstoppable ball of epic energy. Look at the lightning bolts. He’s flying through the sky to throw his mighty hammer down. But take a second look at that face. Thor is so uninterested in whatever is going on in this scenario. Thor is having an existential crisis mid-air.

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Thor and Loki

Another glimpse at the upcoming Thor: The Dark World is here, thanks to a brand new trailer. It’s got all the hammer-smashing, Norse fantasy and hordes of women swooning over Chris Hemsworth (that part might be implied). Marvel clearly knows what audiences want to see in a Thor film: lots and lots of Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston (as the nefarious Loki). This trailer sets its sights on the two of them and rarely (if ever) hesitates to show something about the story or any other non-Thor-or-Loki characters. All we can really gleam from this new footage is this: Thor has a problem. Loki has some knowledge of how to fix that problem. The two team up. After that, it’s all Thor swaggering, Loki sneering, and the two doing a whole bunch of fantasy-themed ass-kicking. Check it out after the jump.

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Rush

Today the third trailer for Ron Howard’s upcoming Formula-1 historical dramatization Rush hit, and much like the second one did after the first, this new look at the rivalry between legendary drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) looks at the story from an entirely new angle and sets an entirely different tone. The first time around Rush got sold to us as a dramatic period piece about a legendary rivalry that took place in a dangerous world. The kind of thing that would be right at home during awards season. The second look at the film made it seem much more like a popcorn movie, as the focus was on flash, speed, sex appeal, and explosions. This time around the focus seems to be put much more firmly on Hemsworth. Not only do we get introduced to his character by having him painted as being a ladies man and a charismatic superstar (we even get to watch him seduce Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer), but then the trailer takes a turn and zeros in on the character arc that he goes through over the course of the film. Gone is the equal rivalry of the first trailer, and in its place is the question of whether Hunt—our apparent protagonist—can rise to the occasion of beating the untouchable racer that is Brühl. Whether that’s an accurate interpretation of the end product here or just a shrewd means of drawing in fans of Thor remains to be […]

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Rush

Call it the Fast and Furious effect, but this new trailer for Ron Howard‘s Rush certainly seems far sexier and speedier than the last look we got at the fact-based racing tale. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl face off in the film as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, talented and celebrated drivers who became mired in one of sport’s greatest rivalries back in the seventies. While the first trailer made no bones about the drama of the film – Lauda was the victim of a horrific race crash that nearly claimed his life, burnt his body, and sent him into a coma, and he still came back to race Hunt – this new look is all fast cars, fast cuts, and even a glimpse of a couple of stars getting it on in the shower. The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jamie de Courcey, Pierfrancesco Favino, and Natalie Dormer so, like we said, sexy. After the break, check out the pulse-pounding new trailer for Rush.

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teaser thor the dark world

I really expected to hate Kenneth Branagh’s Thor. He’s a fine director, and Marvel had shown even by that point that they knew what they were doing, but the idea of a movie based on a Norse god as superhero just sounded terrible. Happily though I was wrong, and the film ended up being an entertaining entry that managed to make both its hero and villain extremely likeable. Now that we’ve entered Marvel’s Phase Two, their post-Avengers plan is ready to roll out with sequels and new content. Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is first out of the gate this summer, but hot on its heels will be Thor: The Dark World. Branagh has been replaced with TV veteran Alan Taylor. While it may seem like a risk tasking a television guy with crafting an epic, big screen adventure take comfort in the fact that some of the series on his resume are equally ambitious and well respected including Oz, Homicide, The West Wing, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Mad Men and, wait for it… the somewhat apropos Game of Thrones. If that doesn’t do it for you though you can just check out the teaser for Thor: The Dark World below.

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Rush

Okay, Ron Howard, this will do just fine. For his first post-The Dilemma directorial outing, Howard has returned to his dramatic roots with another true life story that should fit in quite nicely alongside Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon. Howard’s Rush centers on one of sport’s greatest rivalries and one of the most wrenching comebacks in the history of athletics. The fact-based film stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, respectively. Hunt and Lauda were long-standing rivals on the F1 circuit, a rivalry that was both shaken and reinforced by Lauda’s 1976 crash that left him with extensive facial burns, damage to his lungs and blood, and in a weeks-long coma. Despite the heavy Hemsworth presence in this trailer, Rush is ostensibly focused primarily on Lauda’s life and his amazing comeback, with that action framed up against his rivalry with Hunt. Only six weeks after his horrific accident, Lauda returned to racing with an intent to beat Hunt and win the F1 title (one determined by a point system). The first trailer for Rush looks absolutely stunning, and if the final film lives up to this new bit of marketing, we’re in for one hell of a treat. Not sold yet? Did we mention that Olivia Wilde co-stars? Buckle up and check out the first trailer for Rush after the break.

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Chris-Hemsworth

Now this is a great cinema-related Valentines’s Day Gift. Variety reports that director Michael Mann is returning to feature films after almost four years away from the big screen (his last directorial outing was with 2009′s Public Enemies) with a new untitled thriller. Mann is attached to direct the film for Legendary Pictures from his own script, which he has reportedly been working on for over a year with co-writer Morgan Davis Foehl (an editor-turned-scribe who is also writing the Mass Effect film for the studio). Still better? Chris Hemsworth is already attached to star in the new project. Details on the feature are predictably slim, but the outlet does pass on that it “takes place in a world of cyber threats and attacks.” Someone tell me this is the The Net remake we’ve all been begging for. Now let’s all go celebrate VD in the traditional way – by watching Collateral and marveling at Tom Cruise’s steely gaze (and hair).

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When I first heard there was going to be a Red Dawn remake, I didn’t see the need. Even in a post-9/11 world, in which we have experienced a foreign attack on U.S. soil — unlike when the 1984 original could tout its related tagline of “In our time, no foreign army has ever occupied American soil. Until now.” — we don’t have the sort of Cold War worries of being taken over by an enemy superpower, regardless of the plausibility. We’ve entered a different kind of era of fear, of terrorists striking rather than foreign armies invading. In the last 20 years it has made more sense to see alien invasion films like Independence Day and War of the Worlds, because extraterrestrials seemed the more likely foreigners to conquer America if any. And to an extent — especially given a certain ID4-ish plan involving defeating the invaders via their own communications system — the producers could have just changed the enemy in the Red Dawn remake from Chinese to aliens rather than to North Koreans. For one thing, it would remove any claims of racism or direct xenophobia on the part of the film. For another thing, we once saw aliens often employed as stand-ins for our “red” enemies and could just reference that as logic for how it could still be “Red Dawn” but now be science fiction (actually, the original Red Dawn is a kind of sci-fi). More than anything, though, it just doesn’t matter who the […]

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Red Dawn

Editor’s note: we first reviewed the new Red Dawn back at Fantastic Fest, so please enjoy a re-run of that review, originally published on September 27, 2012, no guns necessary. Possibly the biggest challenge in creating a Red Dawn remake is that the original was such a product of its time. By 1984, tensions from the Cold War were at their peak and Red Dawn deftly played on and exploited those fears. While it got bogged down a bit in melodrama, our national xenophobia gave it more impact than it may have had otherwise. Fast forward to 2012 and despite perhaps a mild fear of another attack from Middle Eastern extremists, we’re not particularly afraid of a full scale invasion. In fact, the plausibility is so up in the air that the invading army was changed from China to North Korea in post-production. We don’t live in a culture of fear like the one that existed during the Cold War, but the sight of planes dropping bombs on your neighbors and soldiers parachuting into your town is still a terrifying one, and the new Red Dawn handles that sequence well. While it may not play on legitimate fears like the original, the remake does a decent job of creating chaos and tension if not outright terror.

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Red Dawn Poster

“A city in Washington state awakens to the surreal sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky – shockingly, the U.S. has been invaded and their hometown is the initial target. Quickly and without warning, the citizens find themselves prisoners and their town under enemy occupation. Determined to fight back, a group of young patriots seek refuge in the surrounding woods, training and reorganizing themselves into a guerilla group of fighters. Taking inspiration from their high school mascot, they call themselves the Wolverines, banding together to protect one another, liberate their town from its captors, and take back their freedom.” It’s hard not to feel like we’ve heard this one before. Then again, we have. But that was the first time Red Dawn was a movie. Now it’s another movie. And instead of Russians, we’re being invaded by Asians. Somewhere our own Rob Hunter is being questioned as an enemy sympathizer. Here though, we’ve got a fancy new exclusive clip for the release of Red Dawn, which invades your local cineplex on November 21. Just in time for that ultimate American invasion holiday, Thanksgiving.

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Sylvester Stallone in Cobra 2: Axing for Trouble

What is Casting Couch? It’s a news roundup that’s jam-packed with updates about big star doing big things. Look at this list of names! There’s barely a second-stringer on there. When you shoot as many people in the head and blow as many things up onscreen as Sylvester Stallone, every once in a while it’s nice to take a break from all of the insanity and do a quiet little indie drama. So, according to Variety, that’s exactly what he’s doing with his next film, Reach Me. Written and directed by Stallone’s Cobra co-star John Herzfeld, Reach Me is an ensemble piece about a group of characters who were all touched by a self-help book that was written by a reclusive football coach. There isn’t yet any word on what role Stallone will be playing, but, for the sake of his old knees, let’s hope it doesn’t involve any running. Those hobbling away from the explosion scenes in the Expendables movies are starting to look pretty painful.

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Hathaway and Hemsworth

If you’re looking for a movie about cyborgs that has a creative team with a good amount of solid, robot-related sci-fi experience under their belt, then Amped might be the project for you. THR has word that this is going to be the next film for director Alex Proyas, who first captured film fans’ attentions with things like The Crow and Dark City, and later went on to make his robot bones with 2004’s I, Robot. Proyas isn’t the only robot-friendly name with a hand in the creation of this project, either. Amped comes from a Daniel H. Wilson novel of the same name; and if you don’t know who Wilson is, he’s a contributor to “Popular Mechanics” as their “resident roboticist,” and he wrote the novels “How to Survive a Robot Uprising,” “How to Build a Robot Army,” and “Robopocalypse,” which is serving as the source material for Steven Spielberg’s next film. The guy knows his robots. But what, exactly, is the story that Proyas’ eye for sci-fi visuals will be bringing to the big screen? Let’s let the original novel’s Amazon description fill us in:

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Since audiences feasted their eyes on The Cabin in the Woods earlier this year, many have waited for the day they could listen to the commentary. To hear Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon wax nostalgic on horror and let us in on the secrets behind the making of this highly inventive movie would truly be a joy. Now, the DVD/Blu-Ray has been released for this film that’s sure to be on a number of top 10 lists, and not just those of horror fans. So sit back, click off the lights – your computer should light up enough so you can read – and check out all the things we learned listening to this commentary for The Cabin in the Woods. Cue the harbinger.

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Drinking Games

Oh, K-Stew! How could you do it to us? You have tarnished the good name of Snow White and the Huntsman with your predictable affair with director Rupert Sanders! If you caught yourself saying this a few weeks ago, you probably aren’t interested in a drinking game about this movie and should crawl back into your Twi-hole. (You’re probably too young to drink, anyway, so off you go.) But if the tabloid news surrounding this film made you somewhat curious to see it (or even revisit it since its release this past summer), you can use these rules to enhance the experience, now that the movie is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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Red Dawn World Premiere at Fantastic Fest

We’re still expecting at least one more wave of announcements concerning the upcoming film slate at this year’s Fantastic Fest, but the festival’s closing night film is no longer a secret. The Chinese Koreans will invade Austin on September 27th for the world premiere of Red Dawn! The oft-delayed remake sees a group of not-so youthful looking youths forced to fight an incursion of Korean soldiers who somehow made their way into the United States and took control of the Midwest. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. My money is on Hutcherson peeing in the radiator. Check out the trailer below to prepare for the invasion.

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