Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie posterSynopsis
Shortly after Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider, he meets Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), the Spider-Man from another dimension. Miles works with Peter to learn how to be Spider-Man and to stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from tearing apart reality.

Review
There is nothing left for me to say that I haven’t said before on this blog about my love for Spider-Man. And after 6 live-action movies (7 if you include his appearance in Captain America: Civil War), which include three origin stories, since 2001, you would think Sony wouldn’t have anything left to say about the character either. However, Sony dug deep and gave us a new look at the character. In doing so, they circumvented any expectations you might have had, delivering their most memorable and faithful take on the character yet.

The first thing you’re bound to notice when watching this film is its gorgeous animation. I can truly say I have never seen anything like it before. It looks like you’re watching a moving comic book. What blows me away is the way the backgrounds are animated. If it’s not the focus of the shot, it’s blurry and often the colors go outside the lines, like something you might have seen back in the early days of comics. To also go along with the classic comic book style, this movie pulls a 1960s Batman and shows action words with the heroes’ punches and kicks. And if they are tapping something, squiggly lines appear so you know there is contact. I can’t say enough good things about the animation style; I love it!

Miles Morales is a fan favorite character, so it was brilliant to finally tell a story centered around him. Peter Parker is the Spider-Man we all know and love but we’ve gotten to know him and love him on the screen plenty since 2001, so it’s probably time for him to let another spider hero take the spotlight. While this is yet another superhero origin story, and contains many of the tropes you might have come to expect, it still has a lot of heart. As a result, there is a lot of familiarity but it manages to feel different at the same time.

Much like Paul Rudd in Ant-Man, Jake Johnson is not a name I would have picked to portray a super hero. However, Johnson’s take on Peter Parker is great. His voice fits the older version well. I wouldn’t have expected Johnson to ever play a superhero, let alone be a good one.

One of Spider-Man’s signature characteristics is his quips and jokes both in and out of battle. And honestly, as great as several of the live-action films have been, Spider-Man’s humor is something they have consistently missed to varying degrees. However, Into the Spider-Verse nails it on the head. I think this is why Johnson ends up fitting into the role so well. If you’ve seen him in the television series New Girl, you’ll know that he has good comedic timing, which he uses to create a Peter Parker that is more like his comic book counterpart than any big screen iteration of the character to date.

Another thing that I love about this movie is the amount of spider heroes it introduces. Not only did it stray away from having Peter Parker being the main character and not only did it introduce Miles Morales, it introduced a whole group of new characters. Other fan favorites like Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) made appearances and played decently significant roles in the film. I can’t see this kind of story being adapted in a live-action setting so kudos to Sony for using an animated film to tell this story and bring these characters together. The door is now open to the literally endless spider men and women that can show up in future sequels. Personally, I can’t wait to see more.

I thought Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was GREAT πŸ˜€ It blows away any expectation I had going into it. I’m excited to see Miles finally getting his own movie, while also bringing in other popular alternative spider heroes. While taking a back seat to Miles, Jake Johnson’s Spider-Man is the most like the comic book of the version character that has been brought to the screen. In taking a chance on doing something different, Spider-Verse has given us the best representation of Spider-Man and the Spider-Man universe on film yet.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bob Persichette – Director
Peter Ramsey – Director
Rodney Rothman – Director / Screenplay
Phil Lord – Story / Screenplay
Daniel Pemberton – Composer

Shameik Moore – Miles Morales (voice)
Jake Johnson – Peter B. Parker (voice)
Hailee Steinfeld – Gwen Stacy (voice)
Mahershala Ali – Uncle Aaron (voice)
Brian Tyree Henry – Jefferson Davis (voice)
Lily Tomlin – Aunt May (voice)
Zoe Kravitz – Mary Jane (voice)
John Mulaney – Spider-Ham (voice)
Kimiko Glenn – Peni Parker (voice)
Nicolas Cage – Spider-Man Noir (voice)
Kathryn Hahn – Doc Ock (voice)
Liev Schreiber – Wilson Fisk (voice)
Chris Pine – Peter Perker (voice)
Oscar Isaac – Interesting Person #1 (voice)
Greta Lee – Interesting Person #2 (voice)

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Ant-Man and the Wasp Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp movie posterSynopsis
After Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) assisted Captain America during the Superhero Civil War, he was placed under house arrest for two years. As his sentence is about to finish, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), approach him with a new mission: help them rescue Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfiffer) from the Quantum Realm.

Review
When Ant-Man was first announced, many predicted it to be Marvel’s first major flop. While it didn’t do tremendous at the box office, Marvel showed that they don’t make flops. It was self-contained, something of a commodity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, but more importantly it was humorous and exciting. Marvel looked to expand on that success, giving us more of the perfectly-cast Paul Rudd and giving the criminally-underused Evangeline Lilly a more dominant role. What resulted was a much needed small-scale story following the goliath that was Infinity War.

I didn’t picture Paul Rudd in a superhero role until Marvel showed me that was something I needed in my life. He quickly became my favorite part about Ant-Man (behind Michael Pena’s Luis, of course). Rudd brings the same charm that made his Scott Lang so enjoyable in the first film. His relationship between him and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and him and his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) was built upon what we saw in the previous film. Rudd handled these more intimate and emotional scenes just as well as the action and comedy scenes.

This sequel isn’t titled Ant-Man 2 but rather Ant-Man and the Wasp and there is a very good, albeit obvious reason for that. Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, gets a much bigger role this time around. And boy does Lilly take advantage of the extra screen time! She is fierce, she is tough, and she takes no nonsense. She is a good contrast to Rudd, tending to be more to-the-point and going in with a plan. The future of the ladies of the MCU is looking great!

Many have complained that the MCU’s weakest quality is its villains. That didn’t really bother me until Yellowjacket in Ant-Man. It was the chance to have the villain be a dark mirror to the hero. Both Scott and Darren Cross were trained by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and could show the difference in character who both have the same mentor. Instead, he became one the most generic villains in the franchise. Marvel seemed to have learned their lesson for Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She is a much deeper villain, operating in that gray area, where you can see their point-of-view but know their methods are wrong, much like Killmonger in Black Panther.

Of course, they need to have that one bad guy who just screams “villain.” Enter Walter Goggins as Sonny Burch. I take back what I said about Yellowjacket being Marvel’s most generic villain. That title now belongs to Sonny. He served no actual purpose to the story other than to be the clear, black-and-white villain of the film. After a similar role in Tomb Raider, I hope Goggins doesn’t start getting typecast in this kind of a role because he is so much better than what these roles can offer.

In my opinion, one of the strengths of the first Ant-Man film was its scope. It wasn’t a globe-spanning epic, nor did it have Earth-shattering consequences. Rather, it was self-contained, and the only people it really affected were the characters in the film. This sequel does pretty much the same thing. This simpler story allows for some good character development. And like it’s predecessor, it gives us a nice break after the last Avengers movie, that I’m sure left many people shaking in their seat after the credits finished.

I thought Ant-Man and the Wasp was GOOD πŸ™‚ The first Ant-Man film was a pleasant surprise but now the sequel had some expectations. Paul Rudd returns without missing a stride, Evangeline Lilly returns kicking ass in stride, and Hannah John-Kamen joins in as the villain who has made strides (I don’t know what I was going for there, I was trying to make the stride thing work). Ant-Man and the Wasp takes what is great about its predecessors, using lessons learned from the recent MCU films and returns a wonderful and worthy sequel.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peyton Reed – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Erik Commers – Writer
Paul Rudd – Writer
Andrew Barrer – Writer
Gabriel Ferrari – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Paul Rudd – Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly – Hope Van Dyne / Wasp
Michael Douglas – Dr. Hank Pym
Michael Pena – Luis
Tip ‘TI’ Harris – Dave
David Dasmalchian – Kurt
Hannah John-Kamen – Ava / Ghost
Walter Goggins – Sonny Burch
Laurence Fishburne – Dr. Bill Foster
Judy Greer – Maggie
Bobby Cannavale – Paxton
Abby Ryder Fortson – Cassie
Randall Park – Jimmy Woo
Michelle Pfeiffer – Janet Van Dyne / Wasp

Deadpool 2 Review

Deadpool 2 movie poarweSynopsis
When Cable (Josh Brolin) travels from the future to kill a mutant kid named Russell (Julian Dennison), Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) puts together a team to stop him.

Review
Deadpool quickly shot towards the top of my favorite superhero movies when it hit theaters in 2016. The irreverent tone, genre-deprecating humor, constant pop culture references and fourth-wall breaking, and the perfect casting of Ryan Reynolds in the titular role made one volatile and vulgar adventure. I, for one, could not wait for a sequel, especially after Deadpool‘s post-credit scene revealed Cable would be in the sequel. Thankfully, what Deadpool 2 delivered on was much of what made its predecessor so enjoyable, along with greater stakes and more character development. Or in other words: exactly what a good sequel should do.

One of my favorite things about Deadpool was the humor. The jokes came at you quickly but the nearly almost landed. Ryan Reynolds’ delivery was sharp and snappy. It’s no surprise the the sequel would deliver much of the same. The jokes come in greater quantity and quicker this time. Not as many of the jokes stuck the landing this time around but quantity trumped quality in this case and before you had time to realize you didn’t laugh at the last joke, the film was already on to the next.

If you didn’t like the amount of pop culture references in the first film, I’m sorry to say that you’re in for more of the same here. My favorite moments from Deadpool were those that broke the fourth-wall. While those were abundant in Deadpool 2, they didn’t seem as frequent. So in essence, this film traded fourth-wall jokes for pop culture ones.

You could not ask for a better Deadpool than Reynolds. Even way back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I thought he made the perfect Wade Wilson. He killed it in the previous outing as Wilson and only gets better in the sequel. The casting is so perfect it is hard to determine where Reynolds ends and Wilson begins.

Superhero newcomer Zazie Beetz is an absolute scene stealer as the luck-manipulating Domino. She has the most screen time of any of the members of X-Force and she makes the most of it. Whether it is her back-and-forth banter with Reynolds or the display of her unique powers, Beetz is on point. I can’t wait to see what she does next in film.

As big of a deal the trailers made X-Force seem, they weren’t around as much as I expected before the film sent Wilson back on his own. I wish more time would have been spent with them because many of the members (read as all except Domino) didn’t get much screen time. The members of X-Force all had various powers that were seen too briefly. Except Peter. Peter has no powers. Which easily made him the most compelling member of the group. I have no doubt that if Peter had a bigger role, it would have made this movie even better. However, despite the limited time spent with the team, it was enjoyable and generated several good laughs.

For a vulgar blockbuster such as this, it was a lot more heartfelt than I expected. The basis of the movie is that Cable came from the future to kill a young mutant before he can become bad and Deadpool tries to stop Cable from doing so. The comics version of Deadpool has been shown to be capable of such actions (look up comic panels of Deadpool and a young version of Apocalypse named Evan). Many of the scenes when Deadpool was opening up to Russell or Cable were genuinely emotional. I wasn’t expecting that from this kind of film. It sounds like these scenes would feel out of place but they fit it seamlessly and naturally.

I thought Deadpool 2 was GOOD πŸ™‚ Knowing what made Deadpool a hit, the sequel offers much of the same. Although not quite as funny as the first, it trades some humor for something more heartfelt. Almost every member of the cast delivers fantastic performances but Ryan Reynolds and Zazie Beetz offer some of the more memorable of the film. I hope a third film is made because I can never get enough of Ryan Reynolds in his signature tight, red spandex.

Favorite Quote
Deadpool: With this collar on, my superpower is just unbridled cancer. Give me a bow and arrow and I’m basically Hawkeye.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
David Leitch – Director
Rhet Reese – Writer
Paul Wernick – Writer
Ryan Reynolds – Writer
Tyler Bates – Composer

Ryan Reynolds – Wade Wilson / Deadpool
Josh Brolin – Cable
Morena Baccarin – Vanessa
Julian Dennison – Russell / Firefist
Zazie Beetz – Domino
TJ Miller – Weasel
Leslie Uggams – Blind Al
Karan Soni – Dopinder
Jack Kesy – Black Tom
Stefan Kapicic – Colossus (voice)
Brianna Hildebrand – Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Shioli Kutsuna – Yukio
Eddie Marsan – Headmaster
Nikolai Witschi – Head Orderly Frye
Rob Delaney – Peter
Lewis Tan – Shatterstar
Bill Skarsgard – Zeitgeist
Terry Crews – Bedlam
Brad Pitt – Vanisher

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Avengers: Infinity War movie posterSynopsis
When Thanos (Josh Brolin) travels throughout the universe to collect the powerful infinity stones, all of Earth’s heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy must come together to stop him, before he can end half of all life in existence.

Review
Well, here we are. 10 years, 18 movies, and one comic fan’s wet dream later, Thanos has finally arrived. Thanos has been teased at since the end of The Avengers in Phase One, intermittently throughout Phase Two, and was pretty silent throughout Phase Three… until now. The buildup to his arrival has been one for the cinematic history books. A shared universe between movies is nothing new; Universal’s monster universe from the 1900s, the Alien and Predator films, Nightmare on Elmstreet and Friday the 13th, the list goes on. However, what is unprecedented is the scope and interconnectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Marvel Studios needed to make the culmination of their journey to be great, at the very least, in order to properly payoff all of the threads they have been dropping since 2008. Avengers: Infinity War not only meets expectations but surpasses them.

You know what to expect from this film right off the bat. Within the first ten minutes, my jaw was on the floor. And it stayed there. The excitement never let up. But that’s not to say the action was turned up to eleven like a Michael Bay movie. No. The Russo brothers did a fantastic job of balancing action, drama, and humor. They’ve shown they can do so with a large cast in Captain America: Civil War and they’ve done it yet again here. While it may be the longest MCU film to date, clocking in at an hour and a half, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

One of my biggest gripes about Thor: Ragnarok was that it didn’t know when not to be funny. It didn’t take the time to let the somber moments be somber or the dramatic moments to linger before cracking a joke to break the mood. Not so in Avengers: Infinity War. Yes, it is funny and there are plenty of jokes and humorous moments are abundant. However, it isn’t afraid to take a step back and be dramatic, to be emotional, to let your jaw hit the floor and stay there for a moment. Like a fine wine before drinking, these moments are given the time to breath before moving on to the next great action piece or quip. It is some very disciplined story telling from the Russo brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to balance the different story elements so well.

But best yet, the characters feel balanced.

With nearly thirty characters to juggle, it’s amazing how shared the screen time is between all of them. Throughout the film, the characters are in several groups with many unique combinations, such as Thor, Rocket, and Groot, or Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man. These groupings made for some pretty great moments, either humorous or unexpectedly heartfelt. Despite the large cast, no one feels like they get short–changed on screen time. There are those those get more time than others but no one feels over-shadowed.

There might be a good reason for that.

Throughout the film, Thanos gets just as much screen time as all the heroes, probably even as much as all of them combined. He is treated like a main character. Much of the film’s run time is devoted to him, allowing his character to be deeply explored. He’s not just a stereotypical MCU villain that fits the one-dimensional format that plagues the franchise. Like the movie as a whole, Thanos is balanced between building his back story and driving motivations, as well as showing how formidable he is. He has easily and quickly become one of the MCU’s best villains (not that it was a high bar to hurtle).

While showing Thanos and all these heroes on screen, the tone felt balanced as well. Having spent several outings with many of these characters, each of their individual movies had their own tone and feeling. There is definitely a common, humorous tone between them that Marvel has refined over the last decade but they still had a uniqueness to them. Again, the Russo brothers and the writers managed to make these tones flow together smoothly. So when we jumped from the Guardians to Iron Man to Thor, it wasn’t jerky or awkward.

Slight spoilers in this paragraph. Given that this is considered part 1, with Avengers 4 being part 2, of the fight with Thanos, it should be no surprise that this ends on a cliffhanger. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of cliffhanger endings in movies. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s a cliffhanger in the traditional sense. In a way, this is Thanos’ story, not the heroes’. While it ends on a cliffhanger for the heroes, Thanos’ story is completed. It’s a fairly unique way to end a film, allowing me to put aside my usual feelings towards cliffhanger endings.

I thought Avengers: Infinity War was GREAT πŸ˜€ Calling this anything short of ‘epic’ would not do this film justice. Even that almost doesn’t feel appropriate to fit the scope and grandeur of what happens on screen. I love this film for the same reason I love The Avengers: it feels like an event. It brings together threads that have been laid out throughout the MCU films up to this point. And let’s not forget, this is only the beginning of the end of the buildup. We still have the conclusion in the as-of-yet untitled Avengers 4 next year. Marvel has proven time and time again they are expert story tellers and know what makes their characters tick. They’ve just proven again why they are continuously at the top of the box office.

You can also check out a spoiler-free audio review of this film in theΒ Avengers: Infinity War episode of the Film Focus podcast, guest starring me!

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Anthony Russo – Director
Joe Russo – Director
Christopher Markus – Screenplay
Stephen McFeely – Screenplay
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / Hulk
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers / Captain America
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Don Cheadle – James Rhodes / War Machine
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange
Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa / Black Panther
Karen Gillen – Nebula
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Paul Bettany – Vision
Elizabeth Olson – Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie – Sam Wilson / Falcon
Sebastian Stan – Bucky Barns / Winter Soldier
Peter Dinklage – Eitri
Benedict Wong – Wong
Chris Pratt – Peter Quill / Star- Lord
Zoe Saldana – Gamora
Dave Bautista – Drax
Vin Diesel – Groot (voice)
Bradley Cooper – Rocket (voice)
Pom Klementieff – Mantis
Josh Brolin – Thanos
Terry Notary – Cull Obsidian
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Ebony Maw
Carrie Coon – Proxima Midnight
Michael James Shaw – Corvus Glaive

Black Panther Review

Black Panther movie reviewSynopsis
After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) takes his place as king of the technologically advanced and secluded country of Wakanda. His succession is in jeopardy when the mysterious Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) challenges T’Challa for the throne.

Review
I think it’s safe to say that Black Panther is one of Marvel Studios’ most anticipated movies to date. Chadwick Boseman stole his scenes in Captain America: Civil War, a lot of time and effort was put into researching different African cultures for inspiration for Wakanda, and the cast consisted of fan-favorite black actors including Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gunra, and many others. Black Panther had the world’s eyes on it. It stood its ground, didn’t falter, and brought one of the most compelling experiences to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

One thing Marvel films have always been good at, in my opinion, is having great action. Black Panther is no exception. Whether it’s a car chase through the streets of Korea, a large-scale battle on the plains of Wakanda, or a one-on-one battle between Black Panter and Killmonger, every action piece is well choreographed and well shot. The camera does a good job of staying on what’s important in the scene and framing the action. At no point did I feel lost or didn’t understand who was where and doing what.

This film really stands out because of its cast and their chemistry. Letitia Wright played T’Challa’s genius little sister, Shuri. She and Boseman felt like siblings. They had this playful banter that felt natural and didn’t feel like it was written in a script. The same can be said for whenever Boseman, Nyong’o, and Gunra shared a scene. I had a smile on my face when these three were together.

Going into Black Panther, I was most interested in seeing Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Killmonger. I haven’t seen him in an antagonistic role before so I wanted to see how he would do in the part. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Jordan oozed swag. His character was intelligent, cold, and calculating and Jordan pulled it off with ease. Admittedly, Marvel has had a bit of a villain problem. Outside of Loki, not many have been compelling. Killmonger is a perfect foil to T’Challa. The two of them have similar goals but approach them different ways, much like Professor X and Magneto in the X-Men franchise. For being unsure what to expect, it’s hard to imagine another actor filling the role as well as Jordan did. He might have stolen the entire movie for me if it wasn’t for one actress: Letitia Wright.

Wright hands-down made this movie several times better than if she wasn’t in it. Her take on Shuri was better than I ever could have imagined. She was witty, sassy, strong, and intelligent. I mentioned it before but her and Boseman’s chemistry was uplifting. She wasn’t afraid to give the king a hard time and to ground him when necessary. She brought a lot of the film’s humor. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Wright in the future.

Wakanda is a technologically advanced country located in the heart of Africa. Director Ryan Coogler vision for the country is breathtaking. I know this sounds like a clichΓ© but the country is almost a character unto itself. It is this mix of futurism and African tradition. Clearly, a lot of time was spent visualizing this β€œcharacter.” Whether in the Golden City or on the country’s plains, you won’t believe your eyes.

With the MCU consisting of nearly twenty films, there is a lot of interconnectivity between the films and it can be daunting to jump into one of these movies β€œin the middle.” However, Black Panther does a great job of standing on its own. Yes, the death of T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, that essentially kicks of this story happens in Captain America: Civil War, but this movie recaps the events nicely. Other than that, there is very little that new viewers won’t understand. This film can stand alone but if you have seen the other movies, it will help you understand its place in the series overarching story.

Since The Avengers, most of the movies proceeding it have had a similar style of humor. I brought it up in my review of Thor: Ragnarok because it was almost too much in that film that it undermined many of the more serious moments. This movie has that trademark Marvel humor but it uses it much more effectively than most MCU films. There was only one time that I really felt it was interjected at the wrong time.

As much as Killmonger didn’t fit the traditional MCU villain mold, Ulysses Klaue, aka Klaw, did. He feels extremely underutilized. As someone who knows his significant history with Black Panther, it’s disappointing to see him not used to his full potential. And Andy Serkis does wonderful in the part. It probably would have been hard to have two well-built villains in this movie but it hurts a little that Klaw had to end up shorted.

I thought Black Panther was GREAT πŸ˜€ As Chadwick Boseman made a great impression as a supporting character during his debut in Civil War, many of Black Panther‘s supporting cast have unforgettable roles. The action is well shot and choreographed and the villain is actually complex and empathetic. Black Panther shows that even ten years later and eighteen movies in, the MCU still has plenty of steam.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ryan Coogler – Director / Writer
Joe Robert Cole – Writer
Ludwig Goransson – Composer

Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa / Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan – Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens
Andy Serkis – Ulysses Klaue
Lupita Nyong’o – Nakia
Danai Gunra – Okoye
Martin Freeman – Everett K. Ross
Daniel Kaluuya – W’Kabi
Letitia Wright – Shuri
Winston Duke – M’Baku
Angela Bassett – Ramonda
Forest Whitaker – Zuri
Florence Kasumba – Ayo
David S. Lee – Limbani
Nabiyah Be – Linda
John Kani – T’Chaka
Sterling K. Brown – N’Jobu
Atandwa Kani – Young T’Chaka
Ashton Tyler – Young T’Challa

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