Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

Orkney’s Skull Splitter & Thor

By Odin’s Beard! We’re back, Drinkers!

Sorry folks, I went to a screening of Anchorman last night night, so I’m feeling exclamatory.  But now that The Avengers has been out for some time, I figured this was an appropriately inopportune time to check out Marvel’s Avengers lead-up film Thor and Orkney’s Skull Splitter. So let’s get crackin’.

Let’s start with The God of Thunder. For an superhero action film, very little actually happens in Thor. An angsty, war-mongering and ravishingly handsome god disobeys his dad, gets cast out of Asgard, eats breakfast foods with Natalie Portman, fights a robot and then returns home a reformed hero. I’m actually impressed that they were able to drag it out to a 115 minute film. Part of that is due to director Kenneth Branagh’s (of Much Ado About Nothing fame) sweeping, operatic vision. The visual splendor of Asgard and its clothes ate a decent amount of screen time. And while the movie looks pretty, the acting is pretty stiff. But I guess that’s to be expected when half of your cast are gods from another region of space.

It’s not even fair.

Tom Hiddleston (Loki) does manage to steal every scene he is in by injecting true passion and rage into his character. For me, he was the real highlight of the film, a sentiment echoed by many viewers of The Avengers. And Natalie Portman also manages to stand out as well by simply being a fantastic actress and really good-looking. Unfortunately, they are exceptions to the rule. Our protagonist Thor, played by the inhumanly attractive Chris Hemsworth, manages to undergo a complete character transformation in about five minutes with little explanation. Apparently he and Natalie Portman fall in love but that’s more of a statement of fact rather than the conclusion to a meaningful character dynamic. Also, for no other reason than the studio wanting some explosions, a robot destroys a small town. That’s not even related to acting quality, but I wanted to point it out. Overall, I found this movie to be honestly be quite shallow. What I mean is that the film remains entirely on its surface. The narrative can be condensed into about 15 minutes and all of the actors seem to just be floating through it. When the credits began to roll at the film’s conclusion, I truly found myself wondering what had just happened. I actually thought that there might be more as I never felt that the stakes were particularly high. Not to be an Earth-elitist, but shouldn’t the fate of the planet be on the line? So Loki might have destroyed a nasty ice planet and illegitimately seized control of Asgard, but what does that mean to me? To us as silly mortals?  If you want another opinion on this film, and the other Avengers films, I suggest you head over to We Recycle Movies, where my friend Anne does a great job of breaking down the whole series in a way more befitting our film degrees.

But in an effort to prove that I have actually studied film, I do want to point out the use of canted (Dutch) angles in this film. Those are the shots where everything seems to be leaning to the side. While, at times, they do appropriately reflect the unbalanced scenario of our protagonist, I found the visual trick to be overused and occasionally unnecessary. Okay, I’m done.

Forged in Fire and Plaid, love is born between god and mortal.

And our Skull Splitter? (Yes, I know Thor has a hammer, not an axe, but you get the connection.) This UK brewed, Viking-inspired brew is actually far more subtle than a blow to the head. According to BeerAdvocate, this dark copper beer is classified as a Scotch Ale, meaning that it has a smooth mouthfeel despite its high ABV. And I think I have to agree. At no point did I feel this beer’s 8.5%. Rather, I got a smooth drink with some earthy, fruity malt flavor. I actually didn’t know what to expect from the Skull Splitter. With a name like that, I figured it would be knock me around a bit with big, robust flavor and overpowering booziness, but neither was the case. Instead, I found this beer to be smooth, relaxed and very easy to enjoy. Not sure how common this beer is here in the States, but if you come across it, I’d suggest grabbing a bottle or two.

And so, by the Hammer of Thor, I declare this 47th BAAM review to be complete! We had  fairly shallow movie with a surprisingly deep beer. The movie left me wanting for something more. More character, more action, more explanation; but fortunately this tasty beer helped carry me through the film and made the evening fairly enjoyable.

There’s only two more reviews to go before we hit our 50th. Coincidentally, the 50th review will match up perfectly with our one year anniversary here at beer and a movie. I’ve got some good movies and beers lined up, so stayed tuned. But until then, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Orkney’s Skull Splitter:
Deep copper color
-Surprisingly smooth despite the high ABV
-Nice, layered maltiness

– Surprisingly little happens. Shockingly little
-Impressive set and costume design (kudos, Art Department!)
-Special thanks to Tom Hiddleston & Natalie Portman for making the film somewhat enjoyable

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New Belgium’s Biere De Mars & Mars Attacks!

Evening, Drinkers.

Well, that was terrible.  Truly just awful. I mean, thank god for beer and having a friends to watch movies with (thanks Anne!) because otherwise I think I would have just turned Mars Attacks! off. Without exaggeration or hyperbole, this was the worst movie I’ve watched for BAAM. Keep in mind that this is stacked up against god awful heavyweights like Megapython Vs. Gatoroid and IroncladYeah, it was that bad. Yay! Let’s do a review!

Before tonight, I was actually kind of excited to see Tim Burton’s 1996 film Mars Attacks! I had managed to avoid seeing it over the years and I had only heard great things about it. I knew it was supposed to be a bit campy and zany, but most opinions seemed to rate the movie as quite funny and entertaining. I would rate my experience as the opposite of funny and entertaining. Without listing off the litany of issues I have with this movie (and we’ll just ignore the plot considering it doesn’t have one), I’ll just briefly talk about what bothered me most. Whether you know it or not, Tim Burton is trying to channel B-film legend Ed Wood in Mars Attacks!. Ed Wood is known for his horribly campy and cheaply made sci-fi and horror films, such as the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. The thing about campy movies, and Ed Wood, is that they are unconsciously terrible. It’s not as if Ed Wood set out to make terrible movies. He actually believed in his work and committed to it whole-heartedly, allowing the audience to forgive the director and just laugh along with the movie. In the case of Tim Burton and Mars Attacks!, you can tell that Tim Burton is actively trying to be self-reflexively campy. The result is that the movie doesn’t feel campy at all. It’s just terrible. It feels like a waste of money and a good cast. No one is likable. Nothing makes sense and nothing is explained. It seems to me that purpose of the film is it’s own absurdity. Unfortunately, a film can’t stand solely on pointless absurdity. As a result, despite an excessive number of explosions and body-meltings, the movie drags. I kept checking my watch, hoping the movie was over. I really could keep talking about how awful this movie was, but it just makes me angry. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to my happy place. My happy, beer-filled place.

Oh but before we change subjects, let’s just list off the fabulous cast of this film:

Jack Nicholson          Rod Steiger
Glenn Close               Michael J. Fox
Annette Benning      Sarah Jessica Parker
Pierce Brosnan          Pam Grier
Danny DeVito            Natalie Portman
Martin Short              Jack Black

Why? Just why?

Dear god let’s talk about beer. Okay so tonight I cracked open a bomber of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series Biere De Mars. This clever twist on a Biere de Garde pours a hazy golden, copper color and instantly gives off a sweet aroma. Quite fruity with a distinct maltiness to it, this beer is actually quite light in its body. The beer is only 6.5%, which helps keep it fairly light but it’s not particularly complex in its flavor. It’s very easy to drink and it offers few surprises. Though the beautifully designed bottle (see below) spoke of spice, I didn’t really get that. To me, the beer was fairly simple and uncomplicated. Not in a bad way, just not in an extraordinary way. But that’s fine. New Belgium makes so many great beers that this one has a bit of a pedigree to stand up to.

So while the beer didn’t obliterate the memory of this awful, awful movie, it certainly helped me through it. This movie goes beyond non-sensical to just plain stupid. The films tries so hard to be campy while also acknowledging how campy it is. The end result is that the film gets twisted up in itself and delivers absolutely nothing. It’s safe to say that you can skip this one. And that I might have been better off sneaking this beer in to see John Carter.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
New Belgium’s Biere De Mars:
-Great hazy copper color
-Light body
-Fruity aroma & taste

Mars Attacks!:
-Great cast doing nothing but getting killed.
-Tim Burton wishes he were Ed Wood.
-Just go watch Plan 9 From Outer Space. You’ll be happier.


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