Thor: Ragnarok – Review

Why wasn’t Thor in Civil War? That’s because he was dealing with his own problems searching for the Infinity Stones he saw in his weird dream in Avengers: Age of Ultron. His journey brought him to Muspelheim in front of Surtur in order to prevent Ragnarok, a prophecy that foretells the destruction of Asguard.

The movie opens brilliantly with the sort of jovial humour and full on action one comes to expect from Thor’s character (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth). Thor’s showdown with Surtur though is short lived and the God of Fire is defeated quickly. Because the film isn’t about him, it’s about Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death who returns from exile to rule Asgard and conquer more than just the nine realms.

Thor’s first confrontation with Hela sends him to Sakaar a world where those who are outcast and lost end up. It’s there he is captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and drafted in to the gladiatorial games overseen by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). To win his freedom, he must confront Grandmaster’s champion, which as you’ve all seen in the trailer is Thor’s ‘friend from work’, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Add Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) in to the mix and you have your main cast in a movie full of characters from the previous Thor films and a few from other entries in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Chris Hemsworth was in his element in this film, he wanted this film to be different for Thor and working under Taika Waititi is exactly what he needed. His character kept much of the charisma and charm that made him one of the MCU’s most loved characters and added more comedy, depth and strength to the character. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has been through a lot and you can see that while still a trickster god, he has matured somewhat in to someone who cares. You can tell Cate Blanchett had a lot of fun portraying Hela, she hasn’t had much of a chance to play a character so completely evil and she pulls it off very well. She does seem to use many standard, ‘I’m an evil lady’ traits, (the standard; snake like movements, sexy walk, baring teeth, snarling, etc.) but it works for the Goddess of Death and Blanchett is great!

Tessa Thompson joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Valkyrie and she is a welcome addition. She is a tough Asgardian warrior who had faced Hela before. The fight against the evil goddess decimated her army and she is the sole survivor, she resides on Sakaar drinking, fighting and making a living for herself far away from Asgard. While they didn’t delve too much in to her character in Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie is set up enough that I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in Avengers: Infinity War and beyond.

I blame Transformers: The Last Knight for what I’m about to say next. I guess if there was one thing I didn’t enjoy about this film, it would be that I couldn’t take Anthony Hopkins seriously. His portrayal of Odin in Ragnarok is a far cry from the Odin we saw in Thor  and Thor: The Dark World. I feel that he was ready to say ‘dude’ at any moment. So thanks for that, Michael Bay.

Thor: Ragnarok is a beautiful looking movie and a nice departure from the first two Thor films who, while being colourful, still had a muted layer over the top. This film does not, and there is so much colour! The muted pallet that plagued many of the Marvel movies is hopefully gone for good. The VFX are really nice and some of the alien characters look fantastic – especially fan-favourite, Korg (voiced by Taika Waititi in a brilliant extended cameo).

Which brings me to the directing. Taika Waititi, who has brought us What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople was not many people’s choice to direct a mega-franchise film. What we did expect was good quality humour and we got it. What we didn’t expect were great action scenes and stunning visuals, but we got that too! The story was developed by the team that wrote Thor: The Dark World while the screenplay was written by the man responsible for many of the Marvel One-Shots from a few years ago, Eric Pearson. Throw his comedy writing with Waititi’s comedic direction and we were bound to be in for a treat!

Thor: Ragnarok tells a concise story that while involving other members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is largely its own thing. The film does its job of putting Thor in the place he needs to be for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War but is still free to tell a very Thor centric story. Which is what the MCU has done reasonably well in the last few years (Captain America: Civil War excepted), but I understand that some set-up is required for the big-banner Avengers films.

Thor returns to the MCU in this brilliant film that combines the extravagance of the previous Thor films and the gritty lived-in feel of Guardians of the Galaxy movies and expands the galactic part of the universe. Thor: Ragnarok is funny, colourful and action-packed and probably the best entry in the Thor series of films yet!

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Geostorm – Review

I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I first heard about it in 2014. The premise was simple but it was already two separate films, A satellite engineer tries to save the world from a storm of epic proportions caused by malfunctioning climate-controlling satellites while his brother attempts to thwart a plan to assassinate the President. I mean how could any one say no to a movie like that? A few months ago, a teaser trailer for the film came out and it was exactly what I’d hoped for all these years. So did the film hold up?

Yes and No. I was excited for this film because right from the start I knew it was going to be a play by the numbers disaster movie coupled with a play by the numbers save the president movie, and it was. Tick. I knew that there would be some very clichéd moments and lines that would make you cringe. Tick. I also knew that no to expect anything wildly out there from a first-time director and that he was probably just going to go through the standard checklist for any film in this genre. Tick. Tick. Tick. But he missed something…

There were not enough storms in Geostorm. There were a lot of VFX shots of the space station that the main character was on but I would have loved to see more storms. Is it really a global disaster movie with only two tidal waves and one of those is then instantly frozen? In that respect the film falls a little short of expectations for me. While the B-story involving the President was silly and gave a lot of fun moments, it would have been good to see an actual Geostorm. The film went in to production in late 2014 and then went under re-shoots after poor test screenings in late 2015. So they had a long time in post-production and it shows. The film looks pretty good for the most part the odd weather effect was a little fake looking but you come to expect that from a movie like this. The re-shoots though didn’t impact on the film as it didn’t feel disjointed as productions like this can sometimes lead to.

Gerard Butler plays an American version of himself in this film, which is pretty standard for him these days and that’s fine, because we know what to expect. (This film did have me thinking what if they got Nicolas Cage to be the lead, it would have made the movie worse but in a great and entertaining way). The supporting cast including Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish and Alexandra Maria Lara all do play the role they needed to but not much more. The acting on whole is mediocre with no one really standing out, everyone does their job and within the world of Geostorm everyone seems to fit, even the “goddam President of the United States” (yes, that’s a line from the movie). Which brings me to the writing.

I usually describe these sorts of films a box-tickers or checklist movies, it does the job they need it to by using every trope people have come to expect from the genre. They might add one extra detail that might change it up a bit, but that is another feature of the checklist – Make it different. Someone I saw the film with said that in the conference room where they were developing the story, they must have had a no idea is a bad idea policy, because this film tries to be everything. The dialogue is clichéd, the characters don’t progress that much and they use the movie title far too much (although it is one of my favourite things when a movie does that).

I don’t want to criticise this movie that much because I think it know what it is and it knows what it wanted to achieve and for the most part, it did that. It is an example of a film that you can switch off to and have fun. (I feel I’ve said that about a lot of films this year, this movie is more fun than The Mummy and WAY better than Transformers: The Last Knight.) It’s not worth a $20 movie ticket, but if you can get a cheap ticket to see Geostorm take it! It is not a cinematic masterpiece, not in any way but it is an enjoyable adventure through the disaster movie tropes.

Geostorm (in my opinion, the current holder of Popcorn Movie of the Year), hits cinemas today! Don’t forget to leave a comment on what you thought of the movie!

3/5