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Thor Ragnarok – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Theatrical Review

Baby Driver  

Wow, I haven’t posted anything since February?  Okay, I get it, I’m really behind in my reviews, and I did see Thor in theatres… back in probably December…  It was great!  I loved it.  There was maybe a bit too much humour to it for some, but I still loved it.

Now, there were lots of trailers, and lots of clips, I have to say that Marvel knows how to put those together.  The trailers left me wanting more and put more questions in my mind as to how things got to where they were, even though the trailer pretty much plays out the same order of events as they happen in the film.

Thor returns to Asgard with the helm/skull of Surtur, a fire demon who according to prophecy will bring about Ragnarok, the Asgardian apocalypse.  With Surtur defeated, Thor sets about finding his father Odin, who Loki hypnotized and left on Earth at the end of Thor 2: The Dark World.   At least that’s what I think happened, I can’t honestly remember, as it’s been quite a while since I saw that one.  All I know is that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) took the throne, impersonating Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has figured this out, and once he publicly unmasks Loki, the two brothers set off to find their father, making a side trip to the Sanctum Sanctorum where Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) sends Thor and Loki to Odin.  Nice bits of comedy here, and nice to see Doctor Strange, but the scene really just seemed like an extension of the “after the credits scene” from his own movie.  The sons of Odin meet up with Odin in Norway one last time, as he surrenders his life force and moves on, freeing his trapped first born child, Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) who breaks Thor’s hammer (as we saw in the trailers) and sends he and Loki through space via the Bifrost, where they become trapped on a planet run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).  Loki arrived several weeks earlier than Thor and has aligned himself with the Grandmaster, leaving  to be captured by a woman known as “Scrapper 142” (Tessa Thompson) to be thrown into the arena to fight for the Grandmaster’s amusement.  Thor’s first opponent is the reigning champion, the incredible… Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  Fighting and fun, the two heroes eventually bury their differences and escape the planet with Loki and Scrapper 142, who is in fact an Asgardian Valkyrie.  Returning to Asgard to stop Hela who has killed and enslaved much of the population, Thor and his team set out to free their people, but can the Prince of Asgard win without his hammer?

Okay, that was a rather long-winded summary, and I left out a lot of key things.  The story was great fun, and it was full of great comic-book action.  It worked in a lot of great new characters from the comics, and I think it laid some very important groundwork for Avengers Infinity War, and the future of the entire MCU.  The scene after the credits leads directly to the opening scene of Infinity War (I know because I saw it the other day).

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of humour in the film.  I personally loved it, but I can see where some fans of comic book movies might be a little put off by it.  Thor Ragnarok still had some rather serious plot points and undertones, but I think director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Flight of the Conchords) balanced the humour and the darkness masterfully.  I think that is something that Marvel does better than DC does in their movies, and that can be very divisive in the comic book and comic book movie fandoms.  I like my heroes to be powerful and fun, not dark and brooding all the time, but that’s just me.  To each their own.  Check it out, it was fun.

Bottom Line: My favourite Marvel movie was the first Thor for the longest time, but then Doctor Strange came out quickly becoming my favourite, but now….Ragnarok may have put Thor back into first place again….at least until there’s a Doctor Strange 2…


Monuments Men – DVD review 2.5/5 stars

MonumentsMen2.5 Stars

Based on the true story of the “greatest treasure hunt in history”, The Monuments Men is a fairly light action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, made up of museum directors, curators and art historians, who were tasked by the president to go into occupied Europe and rescue artistic masterpieces from the Nazis and return them to their rightful owners.  It would be an impossible mission; the art was trapped behind enemy lines, the German army was given orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, and even troops on their own side didn’t know how to react when the Monuments Men told them not to blow up a church full of snipers and munitions because of it’s historical architecture.  Soon, the Monuments Men find themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, as they risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

One of my favourite idioms often comes to mind when I’m watching movies with large “all star” casts, that is that “too many cooks spoil the broth”.  Usually I find that the story suffers because all of the big stars are competing for face time.  And I get that, if you’ve got a host of A-listers drawing in “their” fans as part of  your audience you better give those fans their money’s worth, but usually it stretches the story pretty thin as it seems each star has to do “something” whenever they’re on screen.  The comedic actor has to have over the top funny material, the action star has to have an incredible fight sequence, the sex symbol has to have the most amazing romance in screen history.   Almost the opposite happened in The Monuments Men.  There were a lot of big stars, (George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman) as well as a series of famed actors that aren’t exactly A-list stars but are still pretty big names (Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban), but I felt as though no one really “did” anything.  The story was good, and interesting enough, but just didn’t seem to get into second gear.  There seemed to be little “thrill” and even less character development.  Very rarely did any of our big stars seem to be in any jeopardy, and when they were it seemed to resolve fairly quickly and easily.  At one point they’re spread out across Europe struggling to track down works of art and other treasures, not sure where to turn next, and in the next scene they’ve all met up to plot their next move.  How did they get across occupied Europe with such seeming ease?  And so quickly?  Sorry, it was mildly enjoyable and interesting enough, but in the end this one just fell flat.  The performances for the most part were good, and I found Bill Murray and Bob Balaban’s bits together to be the most enjoyable, but everything else just sort of seemed to stumble.

Bottom Line: The story finally got told, but The Monuments Men didn’t seem to know what sort of movie it wanted to be.  Drama?  Comedy?  Action?  It never really came up to stuff in any genre for me.  Perhaps I expected more because of the cast.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Theatrical Review 5/5 Stars

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailer-poster           5 Stars

Five years after Hiccup and his friends successfully united dragons and vikings, the island of Berk is enjoying the sport of dragon racing. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are competing, Hiccup and Toothless are 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 a mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the centre of a battle to protect the peace. There is a threat facing them all, Drago Bloodfist a cruel “dragon master” who is trapping dragons and forcing them into his personal army.  He seeks to control all dragons and take control of the world (remember, this is viking time, so the world isn’t really that big and if you sail far enough you will fall off of it).

Wow, did I ever enjoy this film.  Quite simply, I love these films.  I may have even shed a small tear or two during the first film.  I love the television shows and I’ve bought all the books for one of my sons, and we all went to see it today, on Father’s Day, but I’m hesitant to say which of the HTTYD films I preferred.  The first one was a wonderfully touching story basically about a boy and his dog dragon, the second expands on that of course, but it also had a lot more action.  HTTYD2 was very much the Empire of this franchise, it had everything I loved about the first one but also took a decidedly darker tone at times.  It was still very funny but there were some pretty serious things happening too, and some losses for some very important characters.  I think the animation itself may have been the best I’ve seen from Dreamworks, the voice acting was excellent, and the story was very strong.  I enjoyed it, and what made me happiest was that my sons (9, 11 and 13) all enjoyed it as much as I did, which amplified my enjoyment even more.  I can’t wait for the third film in this series, and I hope that there are more television episodes still to come to fill in the in-between years.

Bottom Line: Wow, I can’t believe the last two reviews (and movies I’ve seen) were both theatrical.  I don’t go to the theatre anymore, how’d that happen?

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