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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Movie News – June 13th, 2017

Adam West dies age 88

The man behind one of the most iconic portrayals of Batman died over the weekend. Adam west continued to be popular and beloved by people everywhere since the Sixties. He will be sorely missed.

Marvel unveils a new Black Panther Teaser Trailer

We’ve still got Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok to come this year but Marvel has given us our first look at Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.

Not much in Movie news this week, E3 is coming up so if you are a big Gamer, it’s basically Christmas!

Due to the Long Weekend in most States in Australia, the Box Office Report should be out tomorrow.

Iron Man 3 Sneak Peak

A San Diego Comic Con Exclusive reveals that Iron Man 3 will feature Tony Stark’s Extremis Armour. The Extremis is an Iron Man suit made of nanotechnology bonded to Tony Stark’s skeleton. This will be awesome for the film!

Marvel’s Untitled Movie Moves From May To August

The secret Marvel film for 2014 has been moved from it’s original release date of May 16, 2014 to August 1, 2014. This is an unusual move for Marvel Studios but nevertheless, was done for a reason. What that resin might have been? Well the Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be out the week before and the new Ninja Turtles film also looks slated for that date as well.

The film could be anything from Ant Man to Black Panther or The Guardians of the Galaxy but rest assured it will be Marvel which, given past track record, will be pretty epic. Marvel have a big couple of years ahead of them: Iron Man 3 on May 3, 2013, Thor 2 on November 15, 2013 and Captain America 2 on April 4, 2014.

The Amazing Spider-Man – Review

In these current times nothing is more common than a movie sequel, adaptation or reboot. Yep franchises are the only way to fly in the film industry, in most cases, its a safe and sure bet. Enter the Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s new version of their not so amazing trilogy that went out with a very underwhelming finale. But I have to say… This time, they got it right!

Peter Parker is a young man living with his aunt and uncle in New York City, this much you already knew… What we didn’t know is why or how our young Spidey-To-Be is the way he is. In this film, Richard and Mary Parker leave Peter with Aunt May and Uncle Ben after their home was ransacked. Richard is a geneticist with some dark secrets and very dangerous research. Peter’s parents leave that night and never return.

Fast forward to present day and Peter (Andrew Garfield) is a senior at High School. He’s a photographer, very smart but not a nerd just a little awkward. Completely different and refreshing personality. There’s a girl (there always is) but not who the typical audience would expect, this time its back to the comics with Peter’s first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (played by a blonde Emma Stone).

Becoming Spider-Man is a little “Second ‘verse, same as the first”… There isn’t really a way around it but it is nice the skip over the sort of things we’ve seen before. This change is much more interesting and sped up. Which gives the story more flow. The story, while people would think that they’ve seen it before, “why see it again?”, is very different to the 2002 Spider-Man it almost feels like its a more realistic story yet it sticks to the comic books. So pretty much… It’s Awesome! If I’m going to criticise this film, it would be that Spidey takes off his mask way too much! And people’s sections to Peter being Spider-Man is a little underwhelming.

The comedy and timing of the dialogue is great and it just feels like they weren’t trying as hard as the original. That’s not a bad thing by the way, it’s great to have Marc Webb at the helm. You’ll remember Marc Webb as the director of one of my favourite films, 500 Days of Summer. He once again provides us with a very good film that never feels to epic but somehow seems to pull if off anyway.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone play Peter and Gwen very well, their romance seemed to skip a few stages at times but I’m fine with them being on the cutting room floor, because it still worked. Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt Connors, an Oscorp geneticist who worked with Peter’s father before he disappeared. Connors lost his arm before the story begins and attempts to find a way to regrow it with lizard gene tissue. This goes horribly wrong and the villain of the film, The Lizard is born.

Ben and May Parker are played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field, they portray a younger couple than the ones in the original films. But they are still a very nice couple instilling their kindness and sense of responsibility in Peter. Irrfan Khan plays Dr. Rajit Ratha, a devoted Oscorp employee and Denis Leary rounds out the key cast as NYPD Captain and Gwen’s father, George Stacy. Stan Lee also cameos in one of his best yet! Keep an eye out for that!

Bottom Line: Some would say that this reboot is purely for Sony to keep the rights to make Spider-Man films… In my opinion they can keep them. The Amazing Spider-Man was made with care and a level head. I hope this film franchise doesn’t go the way of the last because this honestly felt and looked so much better. I really enjoyed this movie, it has brought Spider-Man back to life.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Average

Film News Friday Update

Release Date Set for Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Dimension Films announced today that the sequel to Sin City will open in the States on October 4, 2013. Casting is underway, with original cast members returning to work with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, from their script co-written by Academy Award winner William Monahan. Academy Award nominee Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba are already confirmed to return.

Juno Temple Joins Maleficent

The cast for Walt Disney Pictures’ reimagining of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale, Maleficent, has been coming together over the last few weeks and the new name joining the cast is Juno Temple, who will play Thistlewit, one of three pixies along with veteran British actresses Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville.

These pixies are in charge of caring for Aurora, the actual sleeping beauty played by Elle Fanning, although they’re “neglectful and superficial.” Angelina Jolie plays the title character, the witch Maleficent who puts the curse on Aurora that sends her into a permanent sleep on her 16th birthday.

The film shoots this winter and is slated for a 2014 release.

Original Blade Runner Screenwriter to Write Sequel

Hampton Fancher is in talks to reunite with his Blade Runner director Ridley Scott to develop the idea for the original screenplay follow up to the ground-breaking 1982 science fiction classic, it was announced by execs at the film’s production company Alcon Entertainment.

Alex Proyas Setting Up Gods of Egypt at Summit

A few years back, I, Robot director Alex Proyas helmed the sci-fi thriller Knowing for Summit Entertainment, and it’s being said at the moment that they plan to reunite for Proyas’ Gods of Egypt project, an original story set in ancient Egyptian times that he’ll be co-writing with Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.

Produced by Proyas’ Mystery Clock Cinema with Thunder Road (Clash of The Titans production company), the film is “the story of a common thief and a god on a magical quest set amongst the pyramids and sphinxes.”

First Look at Liam Neeson in Taken 2

Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent with a particular set of skills who stopped at nothing to save his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from Albanian kidnappers. When the father of one of the kidnappers swears revenge and takes Bryan and his wife hostage during their family vacation in Istanbul, Bryan enlists Kim to help them escape, and uses the same advanced level of special forces tactics to get his family to safety and systematically take out the kidnappers one by one.

Click the Images for larger versions.

The Avengers Climbs to 9th on the All-Time Global List

Walt Disney Pictures reported today that Marvel’s The Avengers has climbed to the 9th spot on the all-time worldwide box office list, surpassing the studio’s own Alice in Wonderland ($1,024.3 million) and Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace ($1,027.0 million). The film has grossed $1,036.2 million worldwide.

The movie should easily pass up the next three films on the all-time global list which are all three Disney films – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($1,043.9 million), Toy Story 3 ($1,063.2 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1,066.2 million).

Contagion Writer Penning Rise of the Planet of the Apes Sequel

Heat Vision is reporting that Twentieth Century Fox has hired Contagion and Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z. Burns to pen the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which earned $481.8 million worldwide last year on a budget of $93 million.

The site says the follow-up “is taking the story to the next level, with the apes on the path to emerge as society’s new rulers.”

The original film’s writers, Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, were previously brought on board to write a draft of the sequel. Director Rupert Wyatt and Andy Serkis, who did the performance capture for Caesar, are set to return.

Red Band Trailer for Shark Thriller Bait 3D

Umm yeah…

The Avengers hits $178 Million!

The Avengers (known as The Avengers Assemble in some countries) has made $178.4 Million worldwide… Not a bad feat considering the film hasn’t even opened in the States yet. To compare, The Hunger Games made only $59 Million internationally on it’s opening weekend.  It opened on the top of the Box Office charts in every one of the 39 territories it has screened in since Wednesday. Breaking it down a little, $24.7 million from the UK, $19.7 million from Australia, $15.9 million from Mexico and $12.9 million from Korea. The Avengers opened in 94 IMAX cinemas, from those alone the film made a whopping $5.6 million (the highest gross for a Marvel IMAX title internationally), averaging over $59,000 per location.

Imagine the box office once it opens in the US on May 4th!

I recommended in my review of The Avengers that you see this film… I now recommend that you see it again!

The Avengers – Review

What can I really say about The Avengers? Joss Whedon has directed a possible contender for movie of the year? I could say that. The Avenger’s truly is the ultimate Super-Hero film? I could say that too. Hell I’ve even heared people say it was better than Batman… The truth is Marvel’s The Avengers is absoultely, 100%, with out a single itty-bitty shadow of a doubt one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. You might say; “Thats a bold claim Nick, how can you really say that?” Well I can confidently say that because I have only been seen a handful of movies that I have walked out of and thought, ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’. The Avengers is one of them. It had everything I was expecting and more and I would not change one single thing about it. Joss Whedon has really raised the bar in Super-Hero films. I might even say; “Watch out Nolan”.

S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) has the Tesseract, the glowing blue cube as seen in Captain America. During a routine inspection by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a visitor from a strange world arives through a gate way created by the Tesseract, that visitor… is Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston). After an attack on the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Loki makes off with the Tessract and some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents he has mind-controlled. He intends to hand over the Tesseract to the Chitauri and claim the Earth as his payment. Nick Fury will have none of that… AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

Captain America – Steve Rogers (Chris Evans): The World War two veteran who was frozen in the arctict circle for about 70 years is back with a new suit and a new vision of the world. He’s dissapointed at what the world has become but still believes in the same ideals that America stood for during the War. Evans contiues to play the valliant Captain America very well, he has accepted that he is in the future and can’t go back and he is trying ever so hard to enbrace it… but it is difficult.

Iron Man – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.): Tony Stark has a few new surprises in his suit this time around but it’s his quick wit agian that steels the spotlight. Downey Jr. and Whedon are a match made in heaven!

Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth): The god of thunder is sent by his father to put a stop to Loki and his plans. Once again, on of my favourite characters of the franchise does not dissapoint. Although out of the team he gets probably the least screen time (not by much though), Thor has a fantastic presence in the team and seems to be the target of many jokes.

The Hulk – Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo): Last played by Edward Norton in the film The Incredible Hulk, Ruffalo’s Banner is a very interesting character played very well. Ruffalo captures the bumbling scientist and tortured soul that is Bruce Banner in a way that the other actors of the role in the last few films (Eric Bana and Norton) havn’t been able to pull off. I wa very worried about having the Hulk on the team but I am convinced that it was a good choice… and I will say… the Hulk definately does, SMASH!

Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson): Joss Whedon loves his strong female characters and Black Widow is definatley one of them! We see a little more of her bad ass skill that we got a glimpse of in Iron Man 2 as well as her sexy demenor and a little of her back story involving her run ins with S.H.I.E.L.D. and their most  loyal (?) agent, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye – Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner): No need for that purple cowl, Hawkeye in this film proves that rangas can be bad ass! I have read articles that his shooting (with a bow and arrow) style is competely wrong but who cares? It’s a movie guys… serioulsy. I have to say I loved this character and I’d really like to see a spin off film in the next Avengers phase (see Cinema Forecast Week 16 & 17) to focus on the back story between Black Widow and Hawkeye. Even just a short would be good.

Secondary Cast members include Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Colbie Smulders as Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson and Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

It is so good to see such a huge cast all get enough screen time, this was my main concern going in to the film am I going to see Iron Man and Captain America hog the spotlight. But I didn’t and that is part of what made the film so damn good. You really felt like there was a team forming here and although the heroes had their differences, believe me the whole first act highlights this, when the Avengers assemble… my god is it worth it.

Technical Points: The film was converted in post in to 3D but to be honest… it’s not half bad. It’s your choice weather to see it in 3D or not seeing it in standard (2D) wont take anything away from the amazing film that it is. It brings a new maening to the Hero’s Journey (i’m calling it the Heroes’ Journey now) it keeps it simple with a fantastically developed 3 act-structure, which alot of films try to muck around with. Joss Whedon is brilliant at what he writes and directs and I would definately say that it’s the simplicity of the film that gave it the freedom that it needed. Everything is explained but I would recommend seeing the films in the franchise at least once first. Just so you get a scope of whats going on and where they’re up to in the story.

The Avengers is the perfect balance of action and comedy that the Super-Hero films of today have needed. It’s not meant to be completely serious… the films are based on comic books, I mean it works for Batman, but who says saving the world from aliens can’t be fun as well as deadly serious. Joss Whedon really does leave his mark on the franchise (in more ways than one) and the producers of the film have an option open for Joss to return to do The Avengers sequel in probably 2015 or 2016 (my estimate: based on the way the films are looking – Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 in 2013 & Captain America sequel in 2014). This is a film I would see again in a heart beat. It’s action-packed, funny, exciting, and a little bit sad. A true cinema expierence!

The Avengers: Well Above Average

Captain America: The First Avenger – Review

In the midst of the Second World War, the Americans joined the efforts against the Nazi threat. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to join the U.S. Army to fight in the name of his father, who fought in WW1. Unfortunately, due to a list of medical conditions and his scrawny phisique, a topic of many jokes during the film, he is rejected. After five tries in five different cities, Rogers is given the chance to serve.

He is chosen for a super soldier program, headed by German Ex-Pat, Abraham Erskine and the father of Iron Man, Howard Stark. After the programs’ sucess and first result of Roger’s new abilities, he is put on the theatre circut to raise War Bonds. He is named Captain America and becomes a symbol of the American’s efforts against Germany.

Captain America is then sent to Europe to inspire the troops where he finally puts his abilites to good use… Rescuing his best friend and the rest of the 107th from the clutches of the evil super-soldier-gone-wrong, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Now seen as a hero of the U.S. Army, Captain America and his band of soldiers take out Red Skull’s remaining ‘HYDRA’ bases. The last base in the Alps is the headquarters of ‘HYDRA’ and the home of Red Skull and his ultimate weapon, derived from a tesseract that belonged to the god, Odin. Red Skull and Captain America fight each other as the fate of America’s largest cities and the world hang in the balance.

Captain America: The First Avenger is the third Marvel movie this year and the last one before the currently in-production, Avengers flick. The film sported good scenes with humour and action as well as the most obvious tie-ins to the Avengers franchise to date… The HYDRA superweapon is derived from Asgard technology, from Thor, while a major character in this film is Tony Stark’s father, as well as the usual cameo from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), foreshadowing the involvement in the Avengers, because the title, “The First Avenger” apparently isn’t enough.

I found the movie was good, however, I think I enjoyed X-Men: First Class more. I have been a fan of the Captain nythos since the 90’s cartoon, Spider-Man, where the events of WW2 are reserected and Red Skull and Captain America come out of a time-locked vortex and I found it interesting how they played around with his journey to the present in this story. Overall, Captain America: The First Avenger was very enjoyable and I cannot wait for The Avengers, next year.

Captain America: The First Avenger is in cinemas now.
4 Stars