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…
I don’t know how the trailer sold me on this one. Well, actually I do, it was pitched as a vampire romance story starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton and was made to look very interesting; full of coolness and vampire intrigue with a dash of horror. This was perhaps the “Seinfeld” of vampire movies though, because it was about nothing.
Only Lovers Left Alive was written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Ghost Dog, two films I have heard good things about but have not seen. If they’re anything like Only Lovers Left Alive I don’t think I’ll want to see them though), and tells the story of two ancient vampires dealing with the modern world. Tom Hiddleston plays Adam, a depressed vampire living in Detroit who wants to focus on making music that is too good for any of the humans (or Zombies as the vampires refer to us) to hear. Tilda Swinton plays his wife Eve, who while living in Tangier realizes that her lover has become depressed and tired with the direction human society has taken so she comes to him. Yes, the main characters are named Adam and Eve. That should have been my first clue that this was going to be a movie for “film lovers” and that these were going to be art-house vampires. You would think things would start rolling once the couple are reunited or when Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up to supposedly wreak havoc on their lives but it doesn’t. Even when Ava feeds off a man and kills him (which is so 15th century apparently) and there is finally a conflict, Adam just throws her out of his house and he and Eve move back to Tangier, with Ava never to be heard from again. Instead we see an old vampire (John Hurt) limping around on crutches as he is sick and dying….somehow. The film didn’t seem to even try to create or maintain any sort of vampire mythology. They can move super fast, they can’t be in the sunlight, and according to the deleted scenes they don’t show up in mirrors and heal their wounds super fast….so naturally one can be on crutches and get sick and old…
Now, there were things that I did like in Only Lovers Left Alive; it was beautifully shot and the music was very good, and it tried to be a bit philosophical as we study the quiet, usually boring, everyday life of an intelligent and ancient being who has seen it all. Some may say that the film was full of cultural witticisms and observations; that it was a highly stylized and atmospheric film bemoaning the passing of the great eras. It did take great advantage of its time span and name dropped throughout with cultural references dating back hundreds of years. Others will find it to be too full of clichés and stereotypes, filling each scene with some of the most pointless, pretentous, psuedo intellectual hipster dialogue ever filmed instead of filling those scenes with a story or a plot. What at times seems to be a melancholic nostalgia towards the past, turns into a longing for the 1960s. Jarmush bases his story on the idea that our present is corrupted, longing but ignores the previous centuries of enlightenment, making the film seem more of a hippie swan song than about the timeless pain of the immortal. The acting was actually quite good, as both stars did the best they could with what they were given, which sadly wasn’t much.
This film was far too long for nothing to be happening. Yes, actors are cool and beautiful, the images, the music too, but that does is little more than create a feeling, an atmosphere. It’s pretty easy to be drawn to the film because it’s cool and arty and you can claim to be more intelligent than your friends because you “got” it and they didn’t, but let’s resist the hype and the hunger for coolness for a moment and see the film for what it really is: too much style and no substance. Judge for yourselves, but I’d say pass on this one unless you are a giant Hiddleston or Swinton fan.
Bottom Line: Just because something is not bad, does not make it great, or even good sometimes.
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.