Thor: Ragnarok Review

With one of the most exciting trailers of the year, Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most highly anticipated movies for superhero fans everywhere. Well, opening weekend is here and the fans won’t be disappointed. Marvel is back and better than ever.

With all of the issues I’ve had recently with some Marvel movies, I went into the theatre for Ragnarok with nothing but excitement. I’m a big fan of the Thor movies and with the Hulk, I couldn’t see how this movie could fail. While I do have some minor nitpicks I noticed that I wasn’t crazy about, this movie has landed among the greats of the superhero genre.

The key aspect of this movie is comedy. Above all else, expect to laugh so hard your face hurts. Thor has always had major comedic potential and I’m glad Marvel is fully showcasing it. Hemsworth’s spot on timing and and incredible delivery shines again as he slays the funniest hero movie Marvel has released yet. Every character got the chance to get a laugh out of the audience as nearly every scene had laugh-out-loud moments. Of course one actor got the chance to prove their comedic chops as two different characters as Banner and Hulk got some one-on-one time with Thor.

Seeing Hulk again should be enough to get seats filled, but Marvel spoiled us with even more. Seeing multiple characters but in a less chaotic and overwhelming situation, compared to the likes of an Avengers movie was both refreshing and satisfying. We got to catch up on many aspects of the Marvel world in a more intimate way. Banner’s struggle with Hulk continues, Doctor Strange finally seems invested in the superhero universe yet is as selfish as ever, and Loki is still a mischievous mastermind with a soft spot buried deep for his brother.

Heroes and villains aside, this movie had a great cast. Cate Blanchett rocks the role of Hela. She nails being the psycho, entitled older sibling. With some previous experience being a highly powerful immortal being, the role fit wonderfully. Of course I couldn’t do this movie justice without discussing Jeff Goldblum. Like everything else in this movie, his Grandmaster was hilarious. He was predictably unpredictable and a quirky hypocrite. Any scene with him was set in stone as a good one.

While the movie could primarily be listed as a comedy, it still had plenty of heart. We’ve seen Thor take a back seat to the other Avengers in previous movies but now he gets his time to shine. He takes on the role of leadership and under his somewhat stupid and semi-arrogant nature, matures a lot throughout the movie. Loki and his brother share just as many tender moments as they do mischievous ones and we see their family dynamic in a way we never have before.

With its retro vibe, the poster for this movie is one of my new favorites, if not my favorite, from the Marvel catalog. It’s bold, it’s unique, and it’s not just a close up of the main hero. Not only does the poster have some major character, the soundtrack does as well. Following the retro theme, this soundtrack mixes some classic 60s and 70s sounds with an epic score. It’s interesting and exciting enough to listen to outside of the movie and jam out to.

Technically speaking, this movie was spectacular. There was never a noticeably awkward moment with Hulk’s CGI, which is no small feat. He looked nearly as realistic as every actor in the movie. Marvel loves to wow us with immersive worlds, beautiful stills and yet again they delivered. Asgard was breathtaking to see in a wide shot, the new worlds we saw were massive and unique, and every high speed scene made you want to slow down the movie to notice all the details.

There were only two scenes in the entire movie that I felt looked a bit fake. The scene on the cliffs overlooking the beach could have been filmed on location and was edited in a way that didn’t sit well with me but this was a minor scene that caught me off guard. The only other instance I could tell CGI was heavily used was during one of Hela’s earlier fight scenes. It’s understandable with such a huge scene to use CGI but it did take me out of the moment.

Neither of these scenes were bad in any way, it’s actually quite a feat that in such a huge movie there weren’t more. With so little CGI awkwardness and a few continuity errors with hair or minor details, Marvel again washes out the competition with such realistic fantastical worlds and characters.

If you had any doubts about this movie or were considering waiting for it to leave the theatres before watching it, just go. It’s beautiful enough to justify an overpriced ticket. With massive fight scenes, side splitting humor, and one of the best stories Marvel has put out recently, Thor: Ragnarok is a must see as a new superhero classic.

Let me know what you thought of the movie. Do you think Marvel outdid themselves? How do you like it compared to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spiderman Homecoming, their other recent releases? As always, if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them and check them out. See you soon!


Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

By now you all know that these reviews have spoilers and this one is no different. Go check out Spider-Man: Homecoming and then come back to read this after.

There was no way I could wait the entire opening weekend to see the new Spider-Man reboot. When it comes to Marvel, I have some mixed feelings that you can read about here. I was worried this Spider-Man would just seem like another cog in the Avengers machine, especially since he’s my favorite Marvel hero. Fortunately, my fears were misplaced.

Spider-Man: Homecoming had everything a Spider-Man movie should. It was written with comedic intent, it had few but smart fight scenes, and it was filled with heart. No, this isn’t a sappy Spider-Man, it’s just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

We started off with some vlog footage from Peter himself during his time in Captain America: Civil War. Trying to keep busy when he wasn’t getting any missions, he stumbled on an underground weapons operation. After some rebellious mistakes and heroic moments, Spidey got grounded by Stark and had to choose between saving the day or enjoying homecoming like a normal teen. You can probably guess which one he chose.

Tom Holland’s Peter Parker acts like the kid who lives down the block that’s able to make friends with everyone. He is awkward and childish in a way that charms everyone, even criminals. He does well at balancing the rebellious side of Spider-Man and the responsible geek of Peter Parker. His comedic timing was spot on, which is important for anyone playing this role. He actually had me crying in the theatre from laughing so hard at his interrogation mode scene.

What really makes Holland’s Peter Parker stand out is the writing behind him. I feel most writers find the easiest way to make a teenage character relatable is through a bland romance. Romance sells but it doesn’t give much depth. This Peter was written to act in the way a normal high school nerd would. He handles bullying, crushes, friendships, and family issues while swinging through the city after his Spanish tests. He was loyal to his friend and aunt, not only his crush. He and Ned were hilarious while showing how good of a friend Peter is. Peter Parker is a complex character that requires more complex character development, and they delivered.

With so much of this movie being character driven with chosen involvement, there was less fighting than other hero movies. Less isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Spider-Man loves to fight smarter not harder so every fight was clever. Each fight was fun to watch to see what trick he would try next or which new part of his suit he would use. Of course there was plenty of action and some epic scenes, but not as much as some of the other Marvel movies we’ve seen.

Something I’ve been noticing and appreciating in the Marvel universe is seeing negative consequences of the Avengers or any superhero in this universe. In comics it’s easy to forget that there are other victims beyond the ones saved. Civil War did a great job at showing that heroes can make mistakes. While this is an interesting dynamic for the genre, I think it was a drastic jump for this movie. We go from Michael Keaton’s character focusing on hard work and providing for his family to being a thief and underground weapons dealer because Stark issues the Damage Control to step in. While his motive made sense, I couldn’t believably see the man excited to prove himself to his new employers becoming a villain on the drop of a dime because an advanced agency was brought in to clean up alien technology and wreckage.

I know what you’re really wondering though. Was this reboot worth it or was it a desperate money grab by marvel? For me, this movie was absolutely worth the reboot. There are two main things that set this movie apart from the others.

One big difference and reason I loved this movie was that it was played by believable teenagers. The actors looked young enough to be in high school, they acted like regular awkward high schoolers, and for the most part they dressed like actual high schoolers. I think the vlog footage in the beginning was a great way to connect with millennials while showing Peter’s excitement. It was a great way to integrate new media and show people who didn’t watch Civil War everything they needed to know.

The second major difference, and most important one at that, from the other Spider-Man movies was that this one was not an origin story. We had to see Peter lose his uncle and become Spider-Man twice before, could we really sit through the same basic plot again? By skipping that part of his story, we got to jump into a new plot at a different stage in Peter’s journey. While Uncle Ben wasn’t there to say it, the meaning in the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” was still a major theme. They found new ways to integrate the key points that make Spider-Man so unique and relatable.

I love the way they involved Stark so heavily in the movie. It paints Tony in a good light again, something they needed to do after Civil War. Stark is becoming a father figure to Peter and I’m excited to see that relationship grow. We finally have a Spider-Man who can interact in a universe full of other heroes unlike the other ones we’ve seen. With a world full of potential, I don’t think we’ll be seeing another reboot any time soon.

While I was on the fence at first, I can say this is my favorite Spider-Man movie to date. I think Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were great which makes them tough acts to follow. Rebooting this series so soon again was a big risk but it paid off. This may have even won me over to fully loving the Marvel movies again. Maybe. While the movie wasn’t perfect, I sure did love it and can’t wait for more adventures with Spidey.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

If you’re looking for a spoiler-free review, you’ve come to the wrong place. You may want to head over to iMDB or Rotten Tomatoes.

I have to say, when it comes to Marvel movies, I’m torn. Some of them are amazing, some are just boring, and some just try to copy the formula for a best selling action movie and end up completely empty. When Marvel flops, they flop. But when Marvel does well, they soar above expectations. The first Avengers movie was groundbreaking for the Marvel universe and I didn’t think anything could beat it, until Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy has been my favorite little corner of the Marvel universe since Vol. 1 was released in 2014. Being a fan of action and space movies, Guardians was right up my alley. You can probably imagine my excitement for Vol. 2.

I didn’t go into the theatre with any skepticism or pessimism, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy a fun movie. That’s exactly what I did with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It was heartfelt, hilarious, and action-packed. What more can you ask for? There is one thing about this movie that might be bothersome to viewers, the lack of straightforward plot. I would relate this movie to the character building episode any great adventure television series needs. This movie stood still to let its characters develop into people we care about.

As boring as I realize that sounds, this is a big deal for Marvel. The first Guardians movie was very plot driven. Heroes meet, heroes fight bad guy, heroes win and become “friends” in the process. A basic structure for super hero movies. This sequel seemed to just have events happening and we watched the characters react. You just had to sit back and watch these different paths eventually combine to fight against a villain that’s only purpose was to resolve conflict within Peter. We watched every character have realizations and personal growth. To me, this was an important stepping stone in hero movies. They’ve separated themselves from the Avengers. They didn’t just create this movie to throw them into a massive Avengers movie like Ant-Man, Guardians exists on their own and won’t depend on an Avengers movie for a purpose.

Learning about Peter’s dad fills in an important plot point for the series that can give writers some new direction. Now that Peter knows more about himself, is he likely to become more reckless or be at peace and consider a less risky life? Will he regain control over those powers his father had? Star-Lord seemed to have isolated growth where as the other characters were mainly paired off, Groot being the exception. I really enjoyed the Gamora and Nebula pairing. Seeing Gamora apologize and watching Nebula learn to forgive was so powerful since these are extremely headstrong characters. Mantis was a hilarious addition to this movie and her connection with Drax is both comedic and heart-warming.

That being said, if we’re going to call any duo in this movie heart-warming (which they all were to some degree), that title has to go to Rocket and Yondu. In my opinion, Rocket had even more development than Peter. Watching Rocket struggle with his identity in the group and waiting for his best friend to grow up again, Rocket was thrown into this movie in an awkward position. Yondu was the perfect character to help him through his transition. Yondu became someone Rocket had complete respect for, which is rare for his character. Rocket now shows traits of both Peter and Yondu, making him a potentially good leader if the writers choose that path. Yondu’s death was truly heart breaking. Having all of the other ravagers accept him again really drove home the theme of this movie: family. We saw several storylines dealing with related family, some with the loss of family, and some coming to find a new family. After this movie, the Guardians are not just a team, but are a family.

As you can probably tell, I’ve overanalyzed this movie a bit. I would like to say that while I appreciate this movie, this style may not be for everyone. Several times during the movie I felt underwhelmed by a lack of stakes presented. While this one didn’t have an intense and massive plot like the first one, its story is important and the overarching theme is what makes the Guardians so special in the Marvel universe. Even if this character development isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll have a blast watching it. I don’t think there was a single person in the theatre who wasn’t laughing. The action is thrilling, the writing is witty, the special effects are incredible, the story is heartfelt, and baby Groot is absolutely adorable.

I really can’t recommend this movie enough. I can’t even think of a single thing I didn’t enjoy about it, or maybe I just don’t want to. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a huge success in my opinion and I can’t wait to see it again. Let me know what you thought about the movie, I’d love to hear if anyone else liked or disliked the structure or if you didn’t really notice a difference.