Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Plot: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

*Contains minor spoilers*

How is it possible that it has been 5 years since The Avengers? It seems like only yesterday. At the time it was one of the coolest and most interesting action hero films I’ve ever seen, and created an avalanche of Marvel-watching for yours truly. And it was great for its’ time – Joss Whedon did a fantastic job, even though it was a large CGI feast and if you hadn’t watched previous MCU films, well, sorry for you because that story would have made no sense at all. Since then we’ve been exposed to the good and the bad of superheroes, often with directors resigning in protest against MCU’s heavy handed control. There has been unfortunate mishaps (in particular, The Dark World was really just crap), and Marvel started to have a tired, repetitive tone to all their films. It was all good to look at, but man, it was all the same. Marvel Studios and DC Comics recognized superhero fatigue was quickly starting to rear head, and Marvel took some preventive actions while DC realized they needed to make proper films. Dr. Strange of 2016 was a visual stimulation we had not yet beheld, Deadpool went R-rated with its graphical violence and strong language, Wonder Woman finally proved that female superheroes could work and that DC miraculously still had a smidgen of sense, and Guardians of the Galaxy was original, quirky and fun as hell.

Ragnarok is the best film in the Thor franchise, which up until now has been the seemingly poorer relative of the MCU. Directed by the uniquely talented and marvelously hilarious Taika Waititi, prepare yourself for Marvel as you’ve never seen it before. You now by the multiple reports on this director that he’s the director behind What We Do in The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. The man himself is an eccentric gem, and his humor is as evident off-screen as it is on. His distinct directorial style reverberates throughout Ragnarok. He didn’t write the material for the film but the nature of the humor is a clear indication that he’s all over it. Ragnarok is hilarious – I have never laughed quite so hard at a superhero film before. I laughed and snorted and spit out some of my drink – nothing is too sacred or serious for Waititi to omit. Dangerous portals are “the devil’s anus” and weapons are called “melt sticks” in such a deadpan way that you simply expect Waititi to walk out and wave at you. He is there, and you will have to listen only to know, but I won’t give away his character – I laughed too much at him and would like people to find him on their own. He is also able to bring out the best in Hemsworth and in the character of Thor – Chris Hemsworth is at his finest while playing Thor as a big, lumbering hero who can be quite the meathead but also has a heart of gold. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns as the “is he or isn’t he?”baddie, and to be honest I sometimes detect a weariness in Loki’s eyes – he’s so clearly intellectually superior to Thor that his brother’s antics must get exhausting. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes a momentary appearance with his mindboggling magic tricks, and learn both brothers lessons in manners. It works, because unlike Civil War, this isn’t Avengers 2.1 – the entire MCU doesn’t pitch to join in on the fight. It is also more unique, less CGI extravaganza and a complete Thor movie, not a derivative movie that depends on the success of previously established MCU successes (Looking at you, Homecoming).

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The scramble for Marvel to include women, brought on by their rival DC’s wonderful Wonder Woman, brings us two females of note – the villain Hela (fantastically devious performance from Cate Blanchett) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). They are even on the poster. It is a positive turn of events, and I’ve seen complaints regarding Hela being one-sided, but I really thought her great and so refreshingly devious – like just mean and no worries about being so. Two times Oscar winner Cate Blanchett brings all her powers, and if one thing I wish they’d given her more time – she’s devious and crazy and cruel, and for the first female villain from Marvel, she’s absolutely wonderful. I’m all for conflicted villains, and Karl Urban’s Skurge certainly has inner conflict, but a pure, evil villain can be such fun, and watching Hela prove that Odin isn’t as squeaky clean as suggested was one glorious ride.  Valkyrie is a potential love interest, as Natalie Portman gets discarded with one single line (another flaw). I am quite pro a love interest that fights on her own and isn’t a damsel, so we will see how this goes.

The Revengers are endless amounts of fun. The movie reaches its conclusion without filler nonsense, the end is quite dramatic and heroic and Chris Hemsworth is as utterly gorgeous as always. Some of the humor is smart, some of it is blatant, and some excellently inappropriate. There is a buddy comedy vibe between Thor and The Hulk, which is endearing and hilarious. Be ready to adore Thor, The Hulk and even Loki – they are clearly having the time of their lives. The post credits scene is interesting and suggests something I thought would happen, and it can only mean great things.

Have you seen Ragnarok? Let me know your thoughts!

Rating: 8.5/10    

Thor Ragnarok Chris Hemsworth

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Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Can you hear that sound? It sure sounds like the patriarchal system starting to crack. Since I watched Wonder Woman Friday night I haven’t been able to stop looking at photos of young girls entering the cinema in their Wonder Woman costumes looking excited and elated. Someone of their own gender entering battle and saving people! I haven’t been able to stop checking on the financial success of WW, which is helmed as a victory of super heroines and female directors. I can’t help but laugh with glee how mad all the men are about the women only screening in Texas – how dare women want to celebrate and feel strong without having to hear whisperings that Steve Trevor is the actual hero? MADNESS.

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Director Patty Jenkins was the perfect choice to direct this film. A film about a woman by a woman. If you will bear with me, I will tell you why – Diana Prince is portrayed as a strong woman who fights for herself, sees her love interest as secondary to her mission, is fierce and formidable while being beautiful and smart and adoring children at the same time. I feel like women are constantly told you can either be the soft maternal type OR the fierce business woman, and it was nice seeing a character on screen that didn’t just do it, she made it look positively easy. Gal Gadot strides on screen with her incredible face and intimidating charm and manages to be warm, pure, sweet, funny, caring and kick-ass without breaking a sweat. It is a standout performance of which she can truly be proud, and she’s truly the Wonder Woman we needed.

The opening scenes with Themyscira is certainly some of the weakest parts in the film. I enjoyed the women fighting sequences, it was beautifully choreographed. The beauty of the hidden island is a perfect contrast with the war Diana plans to enter. It did feel just a bit out of place with the strong structure of the rest of the film. The scene where Steve Trevor crash lands and brings a horde of Nazis behind him is heartbreaking to behold, and the consequences of his arrival made me very sad. The fight scenes aren’t ridiculously drawn out, something Mr. Zack Snyder just loves to do, and it is DC’s saving grace. I haven’t seen a DC movie like this ever, and it is the first I’ve able to place above many Marvel movies. If DC can take this magical formula and copy it directly over into Justice League, please note that I will buy a ticket again and be completely on board with cheering for the male heroes too – something I can do without feeling my gender threatened, hem-hem.

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Where DC usually spends their entire films being depressing and dull, Wonder Woman manages to balance the serious with banter and some light-hearted moments. That is actually where Marvel sometimes messes up – they can be too light-hearted. Steve’s insecurities that can’t help slipping out when Diana refers to him as an average man is quite funny, as well as Diana’s comments on why women should even want to tuck their tummies in had me laughing – so very well aimed at society’s double standards.

There is always the stock standard romance, and while it was present this time around, there was nothing stock nor standard about it. Steve is such an incredible guy – he has a purity that is very nearly Steve Rogers about him – morals, etiquette, the ability to see war as injustice on both sides. He allows Diana to do her thing and after only a few slips begins to understand that she will do what she wants to whether he thinks it is allowed or not. Chris Pine was a great choice as this character. He is a talented man that is finally getting some good exposure. He had good chemistry with Gal Gadot. Honestly – he looks like a wartime hero and that certainly gave him impact as well.

Did I see some of the plot reveals coming – I saw the one, but there were a few others that managed to surprise me. It made for interesting watching – and no, I’m not telling you. This movie is way too fresh out to be spoiled on my blog.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go right out and do it. I will need a really strong contender to even ruffle this movie’s feathers as my favorite film of 2017 going forth into the remainder of this year. It is an excellent superhero film in a time where superheroes are stock standard. Let me know if you’ve seen it, and what your thoughts were!

Rating: 8.5/10

Series Review: Arrow Season 2

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Rating: 6/10

You might have seen my very snarky review of Season 1 here, and let me tell you, I walked into this with some trepidation. I am deliriously happy (okay, not really so deliriously) to report that most people aren’t stinking liars and that Season 2 is much better than season one. There are notable efforts, both from the cast and the storyline, and it reflects well in the show.

What I liked:

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My main man John Diggle is still my main man. He’s awesome. I wish he had his own show. On the one hand I really enjoyed the character development and flashbacks he got but as I mention below, there are way too many arcs at this point.

Felicity Smoak. I still love her, her awkwardness and hilarious commentary. I also noted how short her dresses are becoming, just proving the fact that men can be badass on screen in suits and full outfits whereas women are only allowed tight leather and skimpy dresses.

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Slade Wilson. The actor. Goodness. Manu Bennett is massive, impressive and scary as hell. I think he suits Deathstroke quite well. I don’t blame him for wanting to kick Oliver’s ass, I really don’t. He looks impressive in a suit too *super innocent whistling*

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Kevin Alejandro as Sebastian Blood. The character had a lot of potential and I wish Alejandro can get some permanent fixture somewhere – I loved him in True Blood and he also did very well in here. Blood is written well enough and I was never really sure if he was truly bad or just really messed up. He walks a very thin line and his connection to Slade Wilson was unexpected from my side and well done. However, I did not like how bluntly the show ended for him.

What I didn’t like:

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There are way too many things going on. We are sitting with Slade Wilson arriving at the party to kick some ass, Sebastian Blood being insane AF, the whole Felicity and Oliver thing, Malcolm being alive and a stealthy assassin to boot, John Diggle entering the management of the Suicide Squad, his flashbacks into Afghanistan, all his relationship dramas, Roy and Thea, their dramas and Roy’s mutation, Sarah Lance returning (saw that one coming a mile away), Moira Queen continuing with making us wonder if she’s bad or if she’s not, Thea’s patronage (FFS man) and Laurel Lance becoming the hugest pain in everyone’s butts. And I’m not even mentioning everything here at this point.

Laurel. UGHHHHH. Why did she have to become the long suffering whining alcoholic petty and selfish character? Over that. Really. Your sister and your boyfriend were tortured for five years and you’re upset that everyone doesn’t love you the most? Go away.

The arc of the CEO of Queen Consolidated. Go away. No acting skills, no sassy, nothing. Go away. Her face is really annoying, but I could have lived with it if she was a better actress.

Overall, Arrow Season 2 is a bit better than Season 1 (That was quite atrocious!). Arrow is much more day time drama and much less the excellence we now rightfully expect from superhero-world.  I started season 3 but it was immediately so awful I couldn’t continue. Who knows, maybe a bit later!

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Movie Review: Deadpool (2016)

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Plot: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool

Rating: 8/10

There is a war going on right now. You might be thinking that I refer to the war between DC and Marvel, but this war I speak of is one where Marvel and DC seem to be on the same side. The other side is us, the innocent consumers. Because every time I hear a mention of superhero fatigue, either Marvel or DC does something that makes you pack that exhaustion away and sit back and watch another damn entertaining movie.

Deadpool is nothing like anything that has been seen on the screen in a very long, if ever, time. It is rude, very inappropriate and not for anyone who takes offense every time someone who makes a joke that is very below the belt.

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Ryan Reynolds is Wade Wilson, the ex-super soldier who spends his free time beating up men who enjoy beating up women. He meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and for a while everything seems like it is working out. But as cancer sets in Wade is reminded of his mortality and chooses to go with the definitely shady offer that is thrown to him by a very shady looking man.

That is as far as I will go into the story, because you need to go watch that for yourself. Deadpool is hilarious and very rough, the violence is graphic and inventive. The language is strong and Marvel is out with all guns aimed at being a bit more original.

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It works. Really well. I laughed, I cringed and there were scenes where everyone wondered if someone actually said that out loud. The movie has everything it needs – violence, heroics, drama, sadness and serious concerns for some of your favorite characters. It entertains you, insults you and makes you laugh very hard.

Fuck you, Marvel.

Marvelous Mondays: Daredevil by MovieRob

Happy Monday folks!! It’s that time again… another excellent Marvelous Mondays Post. Rob is reviewing Daredevil for us today. He has really been a great contributor to this blogathon, thanks Rob! I suggest you head over to his site and go look at his James Bond blogathon that is going down this December. Have fun and take part!!

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They say your whole life flashes before your eyes when you die. And it’s true, even for a blind man. ” – Daredevil

Number of Times Seen – 2 (Theater 4 May 2003 and 5 Nov 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A lawyer blinded as a kid, uses his other enhanced senses to find crime and clean up the city.

My Take on it – I can definitely unferstand why Ben Affleck stated after making this movie that he was done ‘putting on the tights’.

As we all know he has broken that promise because he is set to portray Batman when the Superman-Batman movie eventually gets done.

This movie is quite reminiscent of the way superhetomovirs were thought to work prior to Christopher Nolan changing the way people perceive this genre.

The storyline isn’t so intricate and deals with local corruption headed by an unknown underground crime boss who wields a lot of power.

Affleck’s Matt Murdock can’t in any way be deemed a good performance for him because it is quite bland and uninteresting.

As a potential franchise, the characters and story don’t evoke any reasons for the viewer to want to revisit this ‘world’.

This kind of superhero movie makes me glad that the genre no longer makes movies like this and that the quality of these kind of movie has
risen so much over the decade plus since this was made

Bottom Line – This is a pretty weak Marvel movie. Affleck is mediocre in the title role and the storyline isn’t as interesting as it could be.

Rating – BAFTA Worthy

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