Ocean’s Eight Review

Ocean's 8 movie posterSynopsis
After being released from prison for art fraud, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) begins planning her next heist.

Review
I have said many, many times on this blog how much I enjoy heist movies. At the top of that list (and towards the top of my favorites of all time) is Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. The all-star cast, led by the suave duo of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, create an adventure that is fun from start to finish. Creating a movie with the Ocean’s name requires several things: A cast of actors with great chemistry, one act to build the team, one to plan the heist, and one to perform the heist, flashy visuals, and a slow build up with an exciting payoff. Ocean’s Eight implements all of these requirements but not as smoothly as its predecessors.

The first thing I mentioned, a great cast with great chemistry, is what this movie got the most right of the four requirements for an Ocean’s movie. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, the Clooney and Pitt of this story, are a great pair, up there with Clooney and Pitt. They are just a ton of fun to watch together. They play off each other very well and carry themselves with the same swagger and suave attitude that their male counterparts did. As for the rest of the cast, I don’t feel like the gelled as well as the original eleven. Each one has their own memorable moment or two but I didn’t feel the camaraderie that was clear with Clooney’s group.

Ocean’s Eight also ticks the second and third requirements, following the same story structure as the other Ocean’s movies. In the first act, Ocean and their number 2 put together their team, introducing them in fun and interesting ways. Throughout the middle act, the newly assembled team plans the heist, jumping from member or a collection of members, to check in with what they are doing. During this time, we as the audience get glimpses into the plan, as well as *gasp* a plan within a plan by our Ocean, but never receive the full picture; Giving us enough information to think we have all the pieces despite the contrary. It does all this in a flashy and ostentatious manner. If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, then you’ll be familiar with how this is done.

Following the same format as Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Eight checks part A of the fourth requirement but part B is where this movies falls short. The story takes its time building the different elements and moving parts of the heist. Seeing this build up is my favorite part about heist about watching heist movies. However, when a movie takes its time leading into the heist, when the heist finally occurs, it comes with excitement and some sort of wow factor. I never felt that. There was no sense of urgency during the heist, no sense that our β€œheroes” might actually get caught (even though we know they won’t, it’s still more exciting to feel that they might). It kept building and building and then… the heist was over. I kept waiting for the movie to kick into high gear and give that moment that made the building worthwhile. That moment never came.

James Corden’s character, who has a dominant part in the trailers, doesn’t appear until after the heist. One thing this does allow the film to do is continue carrying that tension because it prolongs when we find out all the little details that form the ‘oh, shit’ moment that comes during the reveal. Even with that delay until the final reveal, much like Logan Lucky, it kills a lot of the momentum the film spent building up until this point.

I thought Ocean’s 8 was OK 😐 Carrying the Ocean’s name comes with a lot of weight and expectations. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t quite live up to its name. It ticks all the boxes of what is anticipated from a movie from this franchise: a well-oiled cast, an expected story structure, flashy visuals, and surprise twists, but overall it lacks any kind of flare or pizzaz that the franchise is known for. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel because I’m hoping this franchise can only go up.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gary Ross – Director / Screenplay / Story
Olivia Milch – Story
Daniel Pemberton – Composer

Sandra Bullock – Debbie Ocean
Cate Blanchett – Lou
Helena Bonham Carter – Rose Wiel
Mindy Kaling – Amita
Rihanna – Nine Ball
Awkwafina – Constance
Sarah Paulson – Tammy
Anne Hathaway – Daphne Kluger
Richard Armitage – Claude Becker
James Corden – John Frazier

Thor: Ragnarok Review

Thor: Ragnarok movie posterSynopsis
In his search for Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) discovers he has been hiding on Earth and takes Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to go retrieve him. When Thor and his brother locate their father, they learn of the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who will be responsible for the destruction of their home of Asgard. In their fight with Hela, Thor gets transported to the planet of Sakaar, where he runs into his Avengers teammate Hulk (Mark Ruffallo). Together, they try to escape from Sakaar and return to Asgard to save it from Ragnarok.

Review
I’ll admit that the Thor films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are not very high on my ranking of said MCU films. Nonetheless, I still have found them to be an enjoyable fare. Two things made me excited to see Thor: Ragnarok: Jeff Goldblum and the scene with Thor and Hulk saying how they each were like a fire. What came from director Taika Waititi might just be the best Thor film yet.

Off the bat, I have to say how much I enjoyed Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. He absolutely nailed the role of the gladiator ring overseer and was the perfect choice to put into this movie. Goldblum is one of those actors that is essentric and goofy and over the top in nearly everything he does. He is one of those actors that has a unique personality that you can’t really find anywhere else. I enjoyed every minute of his scenes and left definitely wanting more. His personality was a great addition to the film. In this movie, Jeff Goldblum is the most Goldblum he has ever Goldblum’ed.

In the trailer for this film, it gave a pretty good idea about how the interaction between Thor and Hulk will be different than previous movies. It was very playful and much more friendly banter than before. Not necessarily in the comics but in other media, such as the television shows, Thor and Hulk tend to have a more friendly, competitive relationship. It was nice to see that bromance of sorts brought over to lighten the story.

The gladiatorial part of Thor: Ragnarok was inspired by the Planet Hulk storyline that ran in the mid 2000s. One of the major characters from that arc was Korg, who had a similar role than what he had in the film of organizing a revolution. While I’m not very familiar with his comic book form, this was a very different Korg than I was expecting, but in an extraordinary way! He is easily my favorite new character in the film, even more so than Goldblum’s Grandmaster (gasp!). Korg’s humor is straight-faced and slapstick delivery had me in stitches every time.

The trailer’s music had a lot of synthesizer and strong 70s feel to it. Often times, the score in the trailer is different from what is found in the film. Not this time. Composer Mark Mothersbaugh maintains that same beautiful and intriguing sound throughout the film. It reminded me of the sound of Led Zeppelin (granted Immigrant Song plays at least twice so that might taint my view a little), which really fit with the fantastical setting of the movie.

By a third movie, the stakes need to be bigger and bolder than the previous movies and Thor: Ragnarok does just that. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is one of the strongest villains in the MCU and opponents for Thor. At times she does feel too strong, easily dispatching nearly the entire Asgardian army by herself. I have mixed feelings on her strength but in the situation of a big threat for Thor, and all of Asgard really, she works. However, it’s a shame that a character who has a history with Asgard doesn’t feel like she got the emotional depth that she probably deserved.

Something that bothered me about this film was how rushed Thor and Loki’s search for Odin felt. It was one of the first things that happened in the story and was wrapped up pretty quick. Using Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) feels like the easy way but much like Hela, it also worked in the context of the story. It was an interesting and amusing way to move the story quickly to get the the more critical parts of the story, as well as cement Strange’s role in the greater MCU.

Minor spoilers warning for this paragraph. While I like the general tone the MCU films have taken sinceΒ The Avengers and the humor in this movie is great and hilarious, it feels like it undermines some of the more serious moments, something I have began to feel of last few movies. Scenes like Odin’s death, Hela’s attack on Asgard, and Hela’s killing of several major characters doesn’t necessarily have the strongest emotional impact.Β  Either these events happen so quickly they don’t get the attention they deserve or a joke is made to immediately lighten the mood. As I said, I laughed a lot during this movie and enjoyed its humor and understand that it needed to be lighthearted because otherwise it would have gone to some very dark places.Β  However, I would have also appreciated time to process or feel emotion towards certain events that happened.

I thought Thor: Ragnarok was GOOD πŸ™‚ Much like Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War, its characters have been significantly impacted. This movie did something that the previous Thor movies could not: make Thor exciting. I can’t wait to see him and Banner join back up with their Avengers team in Infinity War. Only thing to do in the mean time is sit tight and wait for Black Panther.

Favorite Quote
Thor: My hammer, Mjolnir I called it, was quite unique. It was made from this special metal from the heart of a dying star. Every time I threw it, it would always come back to me. It could harness lightning, make energy blasts, and when I spun it really, really fast, it gave me the ability to fly.
Korg: You rode a hammer?
Thor: No, I- I didn’t ride the hammer.
Korg: The hammer rode you on your back?
Thor: No, no, no. I usually spin it really. It would pull me off the –
Korg: Oh my god. The hammer pulled you off?
Thor: The ground. It would pull me off the ground up into the air and I would fly.
Korg: Sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer and that losing it was almost comparable to losing a loved one.
Thor: It’s a nice way of putting it.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Taika Waititi – Director
Eric Pearson – Writer
Craig Kyle – Writer
Christopher Yost – Writer
Mark Mothersbaugh – Music

Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / Hulk
Tessa Thompson – Valkyrie
Cate Blanchett – Hela
Karl Urban – Skurge
Jeff Goldblum – Grandmaster
Rachel House – Topaz
Taika Waititi – Korg
Anthony Hopkins – Odin
Idris Elba – Heimdall
Clancy Brown – Surtur (voice)
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer

Official Synopsis: The thrilling second chapter of the epic How To Train Your Dragon trilogy brings back the fantastical world of Hiccup and Toothless five years later. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

I have only recently seen How to Train Your Dragon, but that doesn’t mean I am any less excited for its sequel.Β  The animation of the first film was amazing, and this looks as gorgeous as ever.Β  We saw the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless develop previously, and they have clearly grown even closer, but I don’t think it will be a big focus this time around.Β  I am more interested to see how the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid has developed since the end of the last film.Β  Even just in this trailer, it seems much of the comedic elements (both dialog and Toothless’ actions) that made Dragon so enjoyable is retained.Β  A good sequel raises the stakes, and this appears to do just that.Β  Drago seems like a worthy threat to not just the dragons, but all of Berk.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 hits theaters June 13, 2014.Β  Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all reprise their roles from How to Train Your Dragon.Β  They are joined by new comers Djimon Hounsou, as Dragon, and Cate Blanchett, as Valka.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie poster