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Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Usually when films get around to their third, the quality dips… a lot, and we’re left with a shell of a franchise that tarnishes what’s come before. Thor: Ragnarok not only bucks that trend, but delivers a film that’s not only the best of the three Thor films released so far, but also one of the best in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Taika Waititi with a script by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost, Thor: Ragnarok is a visual treat of a film that feels like a comic come to life in many ways. This shouldn’t be surprising as both Kyle and Yost have written comics themselves and have a long history in animated comic based franchises. Pearson was part of the team behind Agent Carter, a television series focused on a kick-ass female lead, which in itself makes some of the film not surprising.

With Odin deposed from the throne the evil Hela returns to take over Asgard and the Nine Realms. Thor is sidetracked as he’s sent to the world Sakaar where he’s forced into a gladiator role and comic book Spartacus. That latter part is a new take on comic writer Greg Pak’s “World War Hulk” storyline that saw the Hulk in a similar role. But, here the Hulk is a companion Thor must win over as we find out where he’s been all these years.

What’s immediately noticeable about the film, beyond it’s different visual tone, is the comedic sense of it all. Waititi is the director behind the hilarious shorts featuring Thor and a roommate and that same humor is here. It’s a dry sense of humor where quips are given back and forth and visual jokes are few and far apart. Chris Hemsworth in the title role plays off the humor well delivering it all with a seriousness that makes it all even more entertaining. But, that humor is also mixed with lots of action that’s well paced and keeps things flowing through the end battle. An action film with comedic elements or is it a comedic action film? That’s a hard one but the laughs were enough that I missed dialogue either because I was laughing or the audience was, making the film one you’ll need to see multiple times to get everything.

But, back to Waititi and the visuals. With an energy about it that feels like Blade Runner, Fifth Element, and bubblegum pop mixed together, the worlds are bright and visually stunning each in their own way. Sakaar is a mixed of colors which enhance each scene and brought into the design of every character. Watching the film I couldn’t help think this was Jack Kirby’s brilliance brought to the screen for us to enjoy. Warriors for the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum, look like the design of Kirby’s Celestials. The film is almost an homage to his brilliance, fitting for the year we celebrated his 100th birthday. All of it pops in the IMAX 3D I watched the film in.

The movie expands the cast too. Hemsworth is his usual entertaining self getting to up his comedic chops. Tom Hiddleston as Loki has his moments as well but generally plays the mischievous straight man to everyone else’s jokes. Mark Ruffalo, who is a newcomer to the Thor franchise, brings more interest to Bruce Banner and the Hulk, creating a neurotic man both lost and afraid of what might happen. But those newcomers are where things stand out. Idris Elba as Heimdall gets to step up and be a badass in the film, making me long for more Elba in the Marvel Universe. Goldblum brings a cosmic disco sense to it all in his Grandmaster making a villain fun. Karl Urban as Skurge is possibly the low point with just too little to do. But, Cate Blanchett as Hela and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie are the two real highlights.

Blanchett delivers a villain role that is badass and tragic and very intimidating. She is Thor’s better in every way and this is the first villain in a Marvel film I felt this. She’s not defeated in some battle, she kills unknown amounts of people, and she does it with her own hands. Thompson too rocks as Valkyrie a bounty hunter who has a history with Asgard and Hela. Her initial badassness is confirmed later as the real battle begins and again we get a character who is every bit Thor’s equal. The two women being such highlights makes me think Pearson’s role with Agent Carter might have helped. Two commanding women are not something we generally see in a Marvel film, let alone two that are better than the male lead in so many ways. Hela whips Thors as and Valkyrie gets the better of him again and again. The tide feels like it’s turning a bit when it comes to female characters in comic adaptations with the addition of DC’s Wonder Woman who herself rocked the big screen this year.

The story itself is solid with few flaws and a finale that actually doesn’t disappoint. Third acts generally have been letdowns when it comes to comic films and this is the exception to the rule.

IMAX 3D just immersed me in the movie with moments actually causing me to feel like I was falling and moving too, a fun addition to it all.

Is the film a must see? Yes, on the big screen and preferably in IMAX 3D. Then you can see it again when you realize you’ve missed a lot from laughing and being entertained. One of the best Marvel releases yet and one of the best and most entertaining films released this year.

Overall Rating: 9.35

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It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What are you getting? Sound off in the commens below!

Here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

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Newsarama – Chris Pratt’s Cowboy Ninja Viking Gets Release Date – That’s some big competition.

The Outhouse – Karl Urban Confirms is in Talks for Judge Dredd: Mega City One! – Please! Pretty please!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Uncomfortably Happy

Blanchett, Goldblum, Thompson, Urban, & Ruffalo Join Thor: Ragnarok

The cast of Thor: Ragnarok has gotten a dose of actors worthy of gods. Marvel has announced that Two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett will be playing Hela, along with Jeff Goldblum who joins the cast as the eccentric Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson will bring Valkyrie to life, and Karl Urban will be playing Skurge.

Mark Ruffalo will also be in the film as Bruce Banner/Hulk which answers the question from Captain America: Civil War, where he’s been.

These new additions will join Chris Hemsworth returning as Thor; Tom Hiddleston as Loki; Idris Elba as Heimdall; and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Ruler of Asgard.

Thor: Ragnarok comes to theaters November 3, 2017.

Marvel also released some concept art showing off Hela.

Thor Ragnarok concept art

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I get to spend the day trying to figure out what’s going on with the Captain America 2 filming around the corner from my office, how about you?

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Bleeding Cool – Karl Urban Says A Dredd Sequel Is “Not Off The Agenda” It’d be cool if it happened.

MTV Geek – Top 10 Best ‘Star Trek’ Comics You Need To ReadNo idea if this is a good list, for those interested…

Bleeding Cool – The Ridiculous Legal Challenges Against Jupiter’s Legacy Geek fans battle in 3…2…1…

 

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Comic Vine – Doomsday.1 #1

CBR – Dream Thief #1

Comic Vine – Fatale #14

Comic Vine – Gambit #12

Comic Vine – Nova #4

Comic Vine – Red Hood and the Outlaws #20

Comic Vine – Regular Show #1

ICv2 – Resident Alien Vol. 1: Welcome to Earth TP

Comic Vine – Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Ninth Assassin #2

MTV Geek – Strange Attractors

Comic Vine – Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #23

Comic Vine – X-Factor #256

Dredd Debut Trailer

Director: Pete Travis
Release: 9/21/2012
Studio: Lionsgate
Website: http://dreddthemovie.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dreddthemovie
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LionsgateMovies

The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge — a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.

Review – Priest


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PriestGoing into a movie like Priest, I expect a couple of things, bad acting, sub-par special fx, lots of action and bad dialogue.  Priest gave me all of that in an enjoyable, but short movie.  The story is pretty simple, it’s vampires versus humans in a dystopian future run by a church that uses priests to do battle.  It’s been years since the major wars with the vampires and the priests are retired and vampires set up in reservations.  It’s cowboys versus indians but replace indians with vampires.  A priest played by Paul Bettany must get back into ass kicking mode to save his brother’s family.

The story is thin, focusing on events more than character build up (which is almost non-existent).  This is a “B” movie in all it’s glory with some great visuals.  And that’s what’s so frustrating about the movie.  There’s amazing build up and some great building blocks that aren’t used.  The scenes in these massive walled cities is amazing and sets a mood and world that’s fantastic.  The “western” parts of the movie work well as well.  You have an overreaching church that controls the populace, something that’s not fleshed out.  There’s great stuff here, but none of it’s used to it’s potential.

Paul Bettany plays the main priest and does his best Christian Bale/Batman impersonation, very little emotion, lots of grumbling.  It’s ok for the character but something is missing that makes us care about him.  Karl Urban has the most fun of the bunch playing the villain.  Maggie Q is as pretty as ever (and as usual kicks ass) as another priest and Christopher Plummer hams it up as a head of the church.  None of the acting is particularly good, but are you expecting that?

You go see this movie for the action.  All of it’s ok, but none of it’s amazing and all of it I’ve seen before.  These priests are supposed to be amazing warriors that can take on hundreds, but at no time is this really shown off.  Instead they generally fight one on one as if their enemies are taking turns to attack them.  I was hoping for some of the great action fights of Blade, but instead I get a poorer version of it.  That’s not to say there’s not some cool stuff here, there’s just not enough of it.

And that’s the problem of the movie, there’s not enough.  The film is just under an hour and thirty minutes.  You could have added another thirty minutes and fleshed out characters, added more action or explored the world more.  Instead, we’ve got great concepts, great visuals, potentially great characters, in a movie that just barely skims the surface of the potential.

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