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!

Thor: Ragnarok: Above Average

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Transformers: The Last Knight – Review

I saw this film last night and since then I’ve been trying to work out what to say about it. I’ve been searching for some remote ounce of quality, some substance, something I liked about it, there isn’t anything. This movie is a terrible mess.

Transformers: The Last Knight picks up after 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, Optimus Prime has left Earth to look for Cybertron and the Humans have decided to hunt down and kill or imprison all of the Transformers. Mark Wahlberg’s character, Cade Yeager lives with the remaining Autobots in a Junkyard. Organisations and individuals on Earth via satellites or just gut instinct know that the end of the world is coming.

From other films, we know that Transformers have been here since no doubt the beginning of time. This story primarily revolves around an ancient staff that was given to Merlin in the middle ages. This staff can destroy Earth and in turn, rebuild Cybertron. That’s the basis of the film and almost everything else that litters this two-and-a-half hour film is unnecessary.

I don’t know where to begin with this to be honest. The script should have been shredded as soon as it was printed. The dialogue is very bad, the Transformers constantly bicker with each other about senseless garbage, the humans are so often yelling at each other, again, about nothing. When the film quietens down, it’s either blatant exposition or garbage. At one point Cade (Mark Whalberg), tunes out some of Anthony Hopkins’ character’s dialogue. Almost every line delivered felt like the actors were reading directly off a script, with no emotion or emotion. Regardless of all this nothingness, the characters keep talking.

There are many story beats and elements in the film that did not need to be there. Let’s begin with Optimus Prime, you’ve probably seen the trailers and know that Optimus Prime has been brainwashed and goes bad – a main feature of the trailer. This was almost completely unnecessary to the film. Optimus Prime, despite being on every poster and featuring in every trailer, isn’t in the film much at all. More elements that were completely irrelevant to the plot include;

  • The young girl, Izabella (played by Isabela Moner, original character name – right?).
  • Almost all of the Autobots (that’s right, this Transformers movie is not about Transformers).
  • A weird flashback to WWII that lasts for all of maybe 2 minutes.
  • A Suicide Squad-esque scene where a few Decepticons are introduced with freeze-frames and title cards as Megatron lists his team.
  • Callbacks to previous Transformers films, a space ship on the Moon, the giant hole in one of the Pyramids of Giza and an awful way to bring Sam Witwicky and the Witwicky (previously known as Witwiccan) family going all the way back to Merlin (Get it? Wizard – Wiccan?).
  • Every ham-fisted attempt at comedy, sex jokes that fall flat, the annoyingly chatty little transformers that interject with a pointless quip and the amount the Transformers are needlessly crass or profane – as if the only thing the writers know about kids is that they find a robot saying ‘shit’ a lot funny.
  • and so many more…

The visual effects were good and pretty standard for a Transformers film. The only issue that the effects suffer is during fight scenes it can sometimes be difficult to determine which Transformer is fighting. But good visual effects can not save a movie with literally nothing else going for it. There was one thing that stuck out to me more than anything (though it did help distract me some times from what ever trash was going on), the aspect ratio. This movie was filmed in about three different aspect ratios, and these different aspect ratios change not between scenes, but between shots. The change in aspect ratios will change the amount of picture you see and the size of the letter-boxing or the black lines you see at the top and the bottom. One person will be filmed talking in IMAX and the reverse shot will be in standard ratio… and this happens in every scene – action scenes, dialogue scenes – EVERY SCENE. I don’t know how some film professional, weather they’re a producer or editor or something and think, “maybe they wont notice”.

Usually I cover other things in reviews like acting and direction or sound but there is everything in those areas are average and are very common to Transformers films. There’s standard Michael Bay direction, some military shots that weren’t too bad, but that’s what Bay does somewhat well and just like the visual effects, does not save this film. The sound brings the usual warp-y, chks and wubs you come to expect and a wide range of garbled ‘dialogue’ (which I would prefer to call noise) from the Transformers. The acting is forgettable and not worth talking about.

We will no doubt see more of these pieces of absolute garbage as there is a standalone Bumblebee movie coming out next year and an as yet untitled ‘Transformers 6’ in 2019. They shoe-horned in extra Bumblebee and a painfully blatant scene setting up the villain for the sixth film, so yeah they’re serious. Adding to the fact, this film will make a lot of money, all Transformers movies make crazy amounts at the Box Office because people everywhere go see it. I can’t even switch off in a movie like this, like I can with some others.

I very much want to give this a ‘ugh’ out of 5. There was nothing that could get this movie out of the dumpster it found itself in. From the first stupid line delivered by a drunken Merlin (yes, there is so much I haven’t mentioned) to the set ups for the next few films in the main story line to the shifting of the aspect ratios, this film was a sporadic mess.

Transformers: The Last Knight: Below Well Below Average