Some Random Thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok

In no particular order. Spoiler warnings in effect.

  • This is so much better than either of the previous Thor movies. Apparently goofy comedy smashfest is a better mode for space-Viking superhero movies than Shakespearean family drama is.
  • Chris Hemsworth’s performance in this movie is about halfway between his previous Thor performances and his performance in Ghostbusters. It works.
  • This wacky colorful space opera works for me so much better than the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I seem to be in a minority position, but I hated Guardians of the Galaxy, both times, though not for the wacky colorful space opera parts. What I hated was the arrogant, incompetent male “heroes” and the misogyny-as-comedy. Without those things, I’m totally down for the wacky colorful space opera.
  • Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson both give brilliant performances. Maybe someday—hopefully someday soon—we can get a superhero movie with more than two leading roles for women.
  • Korg was amusing, and I can tell Taika Waititi had a blast playing him, but he really felt unnecessary most of the time. The same can be said for Doctor Strange (although, to be fair, the whole Doctor Strange movie franchise feels a bit unnecessary to me).
  • After the last few Marvel movies, we now have Captain America without his shield, Iron Man without a reactor in his chest, and Thor without his hammer. It’s going to be interesting to see how these characters develop without some of their iconic accouterments.
  • A fun romp with good jokes, exciting fights, and beautiful visuals is pretty much exactly what I needed right now, so thank you, Marvel!

 

Additional thoughts by Eppu

  • As a rule of thumb, I don’t care a whit whether the Marvel Cinematic Universe Thor matches the comic books Thor canon, or even Nordic mythology. There was fairly good consistency, story-wise. However, I’m not sure what to think of the decision to crank up the humor to eleven. I enjoyed the movie a lot, yes, but if memory serves, stylistically it deviates quite a bit from the two previous ones, and that seems to be deviating from the MCU convention. I’m still mulling it over.
  • The design for the trash planet Sakaar was refreshingly different. Colors!
  • Two plotholes stood out (or I missed the explanation because there were no subtitles): 1) Thor and Hulk inexplicably left their arena fight in the middle of action, and were all buddy-buddy afterwards. 2) The gladiators were railroaded to Asgard on their stolen spaceship. Um, I thought they started a revolution…? (If it’s a revolution, you stay; if not, it’s an escape.)
  • It was great to see so many women in the background, and two big speaking roles for women, but I want more. And not just girlfriends, or wives, or hookers, or fridged corpses. More women as people in their own right! More women speaking! More women! MORE WOMEN!

 

Recommended reading

Dan Taipua at The Spinoff reveals the Maori / New Zealander mentality hidden in T:R.

Emily Asher-Perrin’s writeup at Tor.com on all the three Thor movies is really good.

Taika Waititi: Paying It Forward on Thor: Ragnarok (found via Good Stuff Happened Today on Tumblr)

Image: Still from Thor: Ragnarok via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

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Thor: Ragnarok Trailers

Good grief, it’s November already! For some reason, the fall always gets away from me, but this year it’s felt even faster than usual. It’s now only two(!!!) days till Thor: Ragnarok opens! Here are the teaser trailer and the official trailer:

Thor: Ragnarok Teaser Trailer [HD] by Marvel Entertainment

“Thor: Ragnarok” Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment

I’ve long thought that the Thor movies have been the least succesful Marvel Cinematic Universe stories. In fact, excepting the hilarious sequence in Thor: The Dark World where Mjölnir flies between realities through the portals, both were quite deplorable. I hope writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost plus director Taika Waititi can change that.

Sidenote: every time I see the teaser trailer with Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, all I can think of is…. VIKING KITTENS! Aaaaaaaaa-ah!

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Black Panther Official Trailer

The Black Panther official trailer dropped yesterday and it’s looking mighty shiny:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment

Judging by this trailer and some of the tidbits we saw in the teaser trailer, this might well be the visually most astounding Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to date. (And that’s saying something, since we’ve visited Thor, Loki et al.’s domain and the deep corners of space…) Also, the Wakandan design ethos looks deep—like it rises from a long line of traditional crafts still practiced, and acknowledges the country’s history. Wonderful!

Four months to go.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Black Panther Poster & Trailer

A little more news on the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Black Panther trickled out from San Diego Comic-Con. At this writing, the SDCC trailer hasn’t been released outside the con yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be out soon.

Meanwhile, we have this gorgeous poster to tide us over:

Tor com BPPoster

And, since apparently I didn’t post this before, here’s the teaser trailer:

Black Panther Teaser Trailer [HD] from Marvel Entertainment

It looks so amazing! Good thing February 2018 is just six and a half months away.

Image: Marvel Studios via Tor.com

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer

It’s six months till (yet another) Spider-Man reboot drops. The first trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming has been out for a few weeks, and it’s looking cool:

FIRST OFFICIAL Trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming via Jimmy Kimmel Live

Very MCU! There’s one thing that I very much hope: that Tony Stark will only be making a cameo. I’m so, so thoroughly done with that character already. Instead, I’d love to see other faces get more attention now, kthxbye.

So, I’m still not entirely sure whether I want to see it, because Spidey’s never been that interesting to me and there’s the possibility of Stark overload. I guess it’ll depend on how movie-deprived I’m feeling come July.

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Captain America: Civil War and Red Herring Overload

170105civilwarWhen I saw Captain America: Civil War in the theatre, something bothered me about the story. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I find Civil War one of the best, most polished films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my headcanon, Civil War is the actual Avengers 2 while Age of Ultron is Iron Man 4 at best. But still, something about the story just bugs me and the first couple times I saw the movie I couldn’t put my finger on it. (To be fair, that movie gave us plenty to talk about.) Now that it’s out on DVD and I’ve gotten to see it a few more times, I think I can name the problem: red herring overload.

Here’s what I mean. Going into the movie, having seen the trailers, you think it’s going to be about Steve Rogers / Captain America and Tony Stark / Iron Man having a falling out. But it isn’t.

Then the movie starts and you think it’s going to be about Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about the blue goo in Howard Stark’s trunk. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about a stolen vial of disease. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about the Sokovia Accords. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about Steve’s relationship with Bucky. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about T’Challa’s quest for revenge and his rise as a hero. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about Zemo and his all-new all-different gang of Winter Soldiers. But it isn’t.

Then you think it’s going to be about the Avengers splitting up over different ideas of what it means to be a hero. But it isn’t.

Finally, finally, at the end of the movie, we discover what it’s actually been about all along: Tony Stark’s unresolved emotional issues.

I still think that Civil War is an excellent movie and one of the highlights of Marvel’s cinematic work, but this is a serious weakness in its writing. Not only did we not really need another movie about Tony’s unresolved issues (we’ve got four already), but it deflates the narrative power of the story to have so much of the plot either fizzle out or just be left hanging at the end. By the end of the movie, the mantelpiece is littered with unfired guns and instead we get to watch two exhausted, angry men slug each other.

Maybe, if this had been a different movie, that would have been a satisfying ending. But it wasn’t.

Image: Captain America: Civil War still via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Random Thoughts on Doctor Strange

161107strangeIn no particular order. Spoiler warning in effect.

  • Doctor Strange is a perfectly good movie, but not the great movie I hoped it might have been. This year, and this fall in particular, have been so lacking in entertaining movies, though, that I’ll happily take “perfectly good.”
  • In terms of narrative structure, character arcs, and facial hair, this was pretty much just Iron Man with magic instead of tech. Iron Man was great, and if anybody can both live up to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and at the same time make his version of the insufferable arrogant genius not feel like a poor copy, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, but I still feel like I’ve seen this movie enough times already.
  • Speaking of insufferable arrogant geniuses, it’s been noted that Cumberbatch is already pretty adept at playing them. Which he is, but his Dr. Strange is, again, a distinctly different kind of insufferable arrogant genius from his Sherlock Holmes. Cumberbatch doesn’t just do insufferable arrogant genius well, he does it with specificity and nuance, which is what makes him such a great actor.
  • Speaking of great acting, Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One is a delight to watch: mysterious without being obscure, playful without being childish, dangerous without being menacing. She and Strange play off one another beautifully.
  • The erasure of Asian people from their own culture and history is a problem, one to which this movie has contributed. This and the above are both true; neither one negates the other.
  • Speaking of erasure, it’s really rather pathetic that there are only two female characters in this movie. One of them dies and a cape has more of an independent story than the other one. Marvel has seriously got to do better.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing his Serenity character in reverse.
  • The magic in this movie is a beautiful combination of movement and color. This is what magic should look like in film.

Image: Doctor Strange poster via IMDb

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Doctor Strange Trailers

It’s now just over a week until Doctor Strange opens. (Gosh, November is so close!) There are a bunch of trailers on the InterTubes, for instance the official ones by Marvel:

Marvel’s Doctor Strange Teaser Trailer by Marvel Entertainment

Doctor Strange Official Trailer 2 by Marvel Entertainment

The tv spot from the end of September, however, is my favorite:

Doctor Strange TV Spot by Marvel Entertainment

Kaecilius: “Mister…?”

Strange: “Doctor.”

Kaecilius: “Mister Doctor.”

Strange: “It’s Strange.”

Kaecilius: “Maybe. Who am I to judge?”

Harf! 🙂

I have to say I know next to nothing about Doctor Strange. The character was referred to from time to time in the translated X-Men I read in my youth in Finland, but “odd name” and “magic user of some sort” was pretty much what I got out of them.

The cast is something to look forward to. I loved Chiwetel Ejiofor in Serenity and The Martian, and Benedict Cumberbatch should be marvelous (I’d listen to him pretty much just reading a phone book). Mads Mikkelsen looks like the quintessential bad guy. Perhaps too much so; I fear I might find his character too corny, but we’ll see.

Tilda Swinton I’m conflicted over. I’ve enjoyed her past performances. Her character in this movie, The Ancient One, has been gender-swapped, which is really cool. However, apparently the role is whitewashed. I guess we’ll see.

I also know nothing of the director Scott Derrickson; again, we’ll see. It’s been such a slow latter half of the year, movie-wise, that I’m looking forward to Doctor Strange even if I’m not sure whether it’s exactly my cup of tea.

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Fan Video: Marvel Cinematic Universe with Glitter & Gold

YouTube users Grable424 and djcprod collaborated to bring us this awesome Marvel Cinematic Universe music video / mashup:

MARVEL || Glitter & Gold (collab w/ djcprod) by Grable424

They’ve skillfully intercut clips from Iron Man and Captain America movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man, among others; the Doctor Strange trailer also features, even if the movie wasn’t out yet. The song is “Glitter & Gold” by new-to-me artist Barns Courtney, and very catchy. Love it!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.