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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…


Ghostbusters (2016) – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Ghostbusters (2016)3.0 Stars

If you didn’t hear last year, someone thought it would be a good idea to reboot Ghostbusters…. but they did it with all girls!  Oh no!  Okay, I have no problem with female leads, strong female characters, or any of the stuff that seemed to get people all up in arms about this movie, but I do have a few problems with reboots in general, and Ghostbusters is no exception to that.  Being someone who loved the original Ghostbusters I don’t know why they couldn’t have just made this more like a sequel than a reboot.  They could have had pretty much the same story if they made it exist in the same “film universe” as the original film.  Say that the original Ghostbusters have retired, and franchised out the name or something.  By rebooting it the way that they did, which kind of “erased” the original film, Ghostbusters (2016) had dug a deep hole from frame one.

Overall I enjoyed parts of the film but still found it a little disappointing.  It was funny, but at times it failed to deliver the humour too, and I think that was both the fault of the director and caused by having too many “comedians” involved.  Watching the bonus features kind of confirmed this to me, they didn’t really seem to have a hard script to stick to.  There was a lot of improv with the lines and the jokes, which causes some scenes to go on for too long, and actually ended up losing the humour they were trying for.  There was one scene in the actual film that was really just a “line-o-rama” bit where the characters just bantered back and forth making more and more one liners, and that kind of killed it for me.  Leave that stuff for the bonus features, trim your script down, keep your story moving, and stick to your script.  (Now, I watched the extended cut on Blu Ray, so I don’t know if all that I saw was included in the theatrical edition or not.)  If they had stuck more to a script, I don’ think the film would have felt as disjointed as it did to me.  There was one scene towards the end, where the team is in trouble and shocked when Erin (Kristen Wiig) comes back and saves them.  The team is amazed and thankful she is back, and seem to be acting like she quit the team, but the night before when she was last on screen she just said she was going home and she’d “see you tomorrow”, so what was going on here?  Is this a prime example of where the soft script failed the movie that made it to the screen?  Again, if that played out differently in the theatrical cut let me know!

My other problem with this “reboot” was that they still used a lot of ideas and jokes from the original, which certainly didn’t help it to escape the shadow of the 1984 classic.  Having the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man appear (even it was as a parade balloon) was a little weak, as was a scene in a restaurant that reminded me of both Rick Moranis’ from the original and of Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver’s date in Ghostbusters II.  And having them resolve the final crisis in a very similar way by crossing the streams of their proton packs was very weak in my opinion.  If I wanted to see that, I’d just watch the original movie again.  I did enjoy the cameos from the original cast  (which once again, may or may not have helped the film escape that original film’s shadow), and there was even a subtle nod to the late Harold Ramis.

To me, Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann character and Chris Hemsworth as Kevin really stole the show.  I’ve really come to appreciate the talents of Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live lately and Hemsworth made me laugh more than the comics did.  Every time he was on screen was gold and hilarious.   Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones were funny at times as well, but they weren’t as funny as the action star was.  Maybe this will open more doors for Hemsworth, who knows, his Thor’s Vacation video was pretty funny.

Bottom Line: Decent attempt, but had some flaws that it shouldn’t have had, given the incredible amount of talent and skill involved with the film.  Don’t mess with the classics, I guess?  Also, decided to change my stars to moustaches for my ratings.  Why not?

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-IMAX-HR-1  4.0 Stars

It got a lot right, but also left a lot on the table.  Not to say that it got things wrong, but there were a lot of things that they could have done (and quite possibly should have done) but they didn’t.  You probably know the story, Earth’s mightiest heroes, the Avengers are back to fight Ultron (voiced by James Spader) an artificial robot intelligence that is planning to takeover the world by killing all the humans (the way Ultron plans to kill us all off is pretty darn creative I will admit!).  Ultron was accidentally created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and now he and his team are the only ones who can stop it, but along the way they’ll have to fight the remnants of Hydra (including the fearsome Baron Strucker) and the superpowered twins Wanda (the Scarlet Witch played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Quicksilver played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as well as legions of killer robots.

  •  The film started off with a bang, and had a nice comic book action fight scene to whet our appetites…then they had an Avengers dinner party at the Tower with heroes galore…  We got Falcon from Captain America: Winter Soldier (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle) from the Iron Man franchise, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and of course the Avengers: Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and even Stan Lee in his cameo.  This scene really wasn’t necessary.  It may have killed the energy of the opening and made the film fifteen minutes longer than it needed to be, but it did really make the film feel like a classic comic book to me.  The whole party could have been drawn by George Perez and written by Jim Shooter or Roger Stern or John Byrne…  In fact, one probably was.
  • Once the party was out of the way and the evil robots started attacking, things picked up and the pace only slowed down at one point when the Avengers had to go to ground and regroup.  More characters are introduced along the way as Ultron severs the hand of Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) who will likely become Klaw and a Black Panther villain at some point.  Minor Spoiler (but I want to gripe about it so I’m not hiding this one) We also learn that Ultron kills Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann).  I think that was a giant waste.  First, I don’t think they even called him “Baron”, he may have just been “Strucker”.  Second, for being the big bad guy who orchestrated the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and whatnot, he really wasn’t in the film that long, and he seemed to go out like a chump!  First the Avengers beat him and his goons quite easily, then Ultron kills him.  Ah well, c’est la vie, and such is the life (and death) of an arch villain I suppose.
  • My first disappointment with Avengers 2 was (spoiler again) that while there was a bit of a crossover with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show, we didn’t get to see Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) on the big screen and reveal he’s still alive to the team.  Second, we had the setup, but we didn’t get “that” line.  If you’re a comic book fan like me, you know what I’m talking about.  How come we didn’t get Thor, beaten and bruised, confronting Ultron and delivering the classic line “Ultron. We would have words with thee.”
    Come on!  It’s classic.  Why wasn’t it in there?
  • The plot and cast advanced the Marvel Cinematic Universe quite well I thought, and set up the next batch of movies where the “big” stars may not be around.  Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans (and likely the rest of the cast) signed limited contracts, only three or four films, so they need to start planning things without Iron Man and Captain America and such.

Lots of action, lots of fun, and this time the comic book-esque quips were spread out more evenly in the film, as opposed to the first film, where Iron Man seemed to get all the good lines.  I will say that I enjoyed the sequel more than the first film, as the first Avengers just didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Bottom Line: they suckered me in with this one, and I freely admitted it to the remaining audience members in the theatre.  There was only one “after the credits” scene in this one, but I foolishly stuck around until the very end just in case…Sure, I may know that Zoe Whittaker was the second unit video operator but I also wasted time waiting for a second bonus scene.  Maybe there will be something on the DVD, but if you’re going to the theatre, after the first bonus bit, you can safely leave!

Rush – Blu Ray Review 4/5 Stars

Product Details4 Stars

A solid film from director Ron Howard, Rush is based on the true story of two competing Formula One race car drivers during the 1976 racing season, billed as starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as British driver James Hunt and  Daniel Brühl as Austrian Niki Lauda.  Both came from similar backgrounds, though they led much different lifestyles. Hunt was a playboy, partying risk taker. Lauda was quieter, and a coldly logical racer. We are introduced separately to these two drivers whose rivalry will fuel the excitement of the Formula One world for several years. Surprisingly though the film felt to me like it was getting off to a slow start. I call it surprising, because for a character driven piece, I didn’t care about either character until probably half an hour in; and by then it was obvious that Hemsworth was not really the star.  That honour  goes to Daniel Brühl’s Niki Lauda.  He stole the show and was  a much more relatable character, at least to me.  Sadly this is yet another film where Hemsworth’s acting takes a back seat to a co-star, much like his Thor does to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The two leads did play well off each other, and Hemsworth really did do a fine job, it’s just that Bruhl did an excellent job.

The racing scenes were exciting, and well filmed, and the look and feel of Rush overall was top notch all the way.   The real Lauda was consulted on the film and that does lend a lot of credibility to the story which was scripted by Peter Morgan, who also wrote Frost/Nixon; another Ron Howard film; which was criticized a bit for some of the factual inaccuracies that were explained as dramatic licence.  Though the film was two hours long, once the characters got going, the film didn’t really lag, and even that “slower” first half hour was well paced with the steady mix of racing. The relationship between the Hunt and Lauda is at the centre of the film, and you do get the sense that though they may have been bitter rivals on the track, and at some points even off the track, there was an underlying sense of respect and friendship between the two that the film (and the performances) shows.

Now that the Oscars nominees have been announced, I’m a little surprised that Rush didn’t get any nominations.  I remember when it came out that there was a lot of Oscar talk for the film, but what a difference a few months makes.  Though the film may not have held up against the other nominations, I do think that Daniel Brühl deserved a nomination.  I really enjoyed this film mainly because of his character and his acting.

Bottom Line: I’m glad Rush was an F1 movie because if it was a Nascar film, the racing scenes would have been pretty dull watching the two only making left turns for nearly two hours.

Thor: Dark World theatrical review 4/5 Stars

OllyMossThor24 Stars

I treated myself to a night out tonight and went and saw Thor The Dark World, or Thor 2 if you will.  The first Thor movie was my favourite of the Marvel movies so far (and will likely remain that way until they make a Doctor Strange movie), now Thor 2 comes in at a definite second.

The story this time out concerns the return of the evil Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who are set on returning the universe and all the nine realms to the darkness that existed before there was light.  The nine realms are aligning in a cosmic convergence and the barriers between the worlds are weakened which leads to the return of the Dark Elves’ weapon the Aether.  On Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is told of strange gravitational energies by her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) who takes her to a place in London where a truck can float and objects are transported through dimensions.  It’s not just objects that can pass through these rifts though, Jane herself is pulled through one and finds herself trapped with the Aether, hidden away thousands of years ago by Bor, Odin’s father.  The Aether takes Foster as a living host, which awakens the sleeping Dark Elves who attack Asgard in search of the Aether after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds and rescues Jane and brings her to his home.  After fending off the first attack of the Dark Elves,  Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is distraught after Malekith attacks his wife Frigga (Rene Russo) and chooses to wait for them to return rather than follow them or to take the Aether away from Asgard and fight them in an unpopulated area.  Thor seeks out help from his brother Loki (Tim Hiddleston) to save Jane from the Aether, save Asgard from the Dark Elves’ next attack, and avenge Malekith’s attack on their mother.  Melekith absorbs the Aether from Jane Foster and heads to Earth to launch his attack on all reality, where his only opposition is Thor and his human friends Jane, Darcy and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) who may have a weapon to use against the gravitational anomalies that could stop Malekith once and for all.

Whew, that was hard to type up without spoilers.  I really enjoyed the film, which thankfully I got to see in theatres and got to see in 2D.  There were several moments in the film that I could guess were shot specially for 3D, but they don’t really add to the experience for me.  Sure these things look nice, but the overall look of the film I think suffers.  The “super 3D” parts look great, but the more mundane scenes always appear too dark.  Thor 2 was a lot of fun, just like the first movie.  It was definitely a science-fiction/fantasy film and not really a mythological take of the Norse god.  There were lots of lasers and spaceships, which if memory serves me lines up fairly close with the Thor comics Marvel did in the ’80’s with Walt Simonson’s run.  There were nice nods with the Warriors Three (Zachary Levi as Fandral, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, and Tadanobu Asano as Hogun) which brought a fair bit of levity to the tale.  Jaimie Alexander as Sif was great if not a bit underused, but really everyone had great chemistry with Tim Hiddleston.  As much of a fan of Hemsworth’s Thor that I am, Loki may have stolen a bit of his thunder.  Pun intended.  Thor was great for the action and I really enjoyed the battles and struggles, but Loki was just a great “tweener” character; not really a villain this time around, but also not exactly a good guy.  His character may have been in-between, but his performance was top notch.

Of course there was an excellent Stan Lee cameo in Thor 2, but also we were treated to a light hearted Chris Evans/Captain America cameo just to remind us that Captain America: Winter Soldier is coming soon.  I think they missed out on a potential cameo appearance though.  After the first battle with the Dark Elves in Asgard, there is an Asgardian funeral scene where the dead warriors are set to drive at sea in boats that are then set aflame.  Great scene, but why didn’t they include a few Valkyries to escort the honoured dead to Valhalla?  It would have been a nice nod to the fans to see Brunnhilde and possibly setup future films or appearances.  Marvel is going all out these days with Agents of SHIELD on television and apparently four planned series on Netflix that are supposed to culminate in a Defenders mini-series, so why not introduce some characters on the big screen, who were key members of Marvel’s famous “non-team”?

We were also treated to some “after the credits” scenes, as with Avengers there were two scenes, a serious one part way through the credits and a second, more humourous one at the very end as a treat to the fans who really stick it out.  I’ve always sat through the credits to every movie I watch; though it’s easier at home when you can just fast forward, which may be something the theatre operators may want to consider doing.  Speed it up, get to the scene we want to see and get us out of there, then the staff can set to cleaning up for the next showing a few minutes earlier, because we’re not really reading them or interested that Richard Glass was the contact lens optician.  Though how ironic is that given his last name?  Ah well, in case you missed them I’ll list the scenes below, as usual for my spoilers, highlight to read:

Sif and Volstagg meet The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and they hand him a container that holds the Aether.  He asks why they don’t just keep it in their own vault, and they tell him that the Tesseract is already there in Asgard and having two Infinity Stones so close to each other would be dangerous. When they leave, The Collector states, “One down, five to go.”  Knowing that we saw Thanos in the Avengers after credit scene and now the Collector, somewhere down the line we’ll be getting an Infinity War story.

Jane is sitting at the table by herself when it starts to thunder.  She goes outside to find Thor. She runs to him and they kiss passionately.  Meanwhile, the Jotunheim beast that came through the rifts earlier is running by the factory chasing birds.

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