Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Review

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (as far as I’m aware!!)***

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

My Opinion:

As I always say when I start these superhero movie reviews, I’m getting very superheroed-out. However, I do have fun with the Marvel ones even though I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan. But then the Guardians Of The Galaxy films came along and it turns out that the “funny superhero movie” thing is MUCH more my type of thing! I love GOTG. And as for the Avengers, Thor is probably my favorite character because, um. I dunno? I’m trying to think of something mature to say… Okay, I like Thor the most because Chris Hemsworth is visually appealing. Okay?!

Of the standalone movies, the first Iron Man may be my favorite and I think the first Thor film is quite weak. But then I liked Thor: The Dark World a hell of a lot more than the first film and, with the Avengers films, we were able to see Thor develop much more of a personality. The “Thor with a sense of humor” thing that started to appear really worked for the character and I’m very happy that they’ve finally gone fully in that direction with this film. I’m surprised it’s getting such good reviews overall, though, as I can’t see “funny Thor” working for everyone? I hated Batman V Superman with a passion (yeah, I know that’s DC) and that whole “dark, brooding, depressing” superhero bullshit annoys me. But some people love that. Those who love dark & brooding are unlikely to love this new version of Thor. I personally love this new version of Thor (and all versions of Thor, including shirtless Thor) but my only negative comment is that this film does feel out of place in amongst all the other Marvel Avengers movies. It doesn’t really “fit”. I don’t know how some fans will feel about that.

I lied: I have one more negative comment so I’ll get that out of the way now. The story in this movie isn’t anything special. It’s your typical Marvel plot. But I honestly never give much of a shit about any of the Marvel plots as they all seem the same to me anyway & I see these all as “popcorn” movies that I don’t want to have to think about. I don’t mean to sound dismissive of these films as I know they have so many fans – I just see them in a different sort of way than a full-on fanboy or fangirl would see them. I don’t think I can say that this movie really added anything important to the overall Avengers stories. It was just a lot of fun to watch, which is the main thing that a superhero movie should be (in my opinion).


Here are the positives: there are loads of genuinely funny moments, Thor and Hulk are hilarious together, and I thought all the new characters were very good (especially Tessa Thompson’s super cool Valkyrie & Cate Blanchett’s super evil Hela). Oh, and Jeff Goldblum, of course. I didn’t realize he had such a big following! People seem to love him & he’s very funny in this. I also really liked Karl Urban (Oh yeah – I like Dredd a lot & that’s dark & depressing! Hmm) and I liked seeing Idris Elba get to do more than I can remember him getting to do in the other Thor films (I could do with re-watching them but doubt I’ll ever bother). And I think everyone knows that director Taika Waititi plays a character named Korg. He’s pretty damn hilarious and was clearly a favorite with the audience in my cinema. Oh, and it was one of those weird times when some people in my cinema clapped & cheered at the end of the movie. I always find that strange (it’s not a play!) but it gives you an idea of how some feel about Thor: Ragnarok – I saw a lot of people who clearly had a great time watching this.

I liked this movie a lot but, for some reason I can’t put my finger on, I didn’t love it. It seems like all the elements are there for me to love it. I think Taika Waititi is very funny, I far prefer fun & lighthearted superhero movies like this, and I loooooove Chris Hemsworth. The new characters are great, I laughed quite a bit, and even though I haven’t listened to Led Zeppelin in years after having a big phase of worshipping them in my teens I never stopped loving Immigrant Song (because it kicks ass) and its use, though predictable, is perfect for this movie. So why don’t I love this movie? I disagree with the hubby quite a bit on movies these days but I have to agree with him saying that this movie feels a bit “throwaway”. It’s fun but, years from now, it may not stand up as well when compared to some of the strongest Marvel films.

Also, I’ll remain spoiler-free but just a warning if you bring kids under 12: this movie is more violent than some and there’s one particular moment that was quite horrifying. My daughter turned to me with a look of horror on her face but I don’t think I was much comfort since I had a similar look of horror. 😉 But you know kids: they bounce back quick. About 15 minutes later she whispered “I love this movie!” while I still had yet to fully recover. The moment is listed in the parents’ guide at IMDb if you really need to know beforehand but it’s a major spoiler. Also, this movie is a lower rating in the UK but is a PG-13 in America. Damn. As we got it here first, I had no warning beforehand so be careful if taking sensitive kids to this. Knowing America, though, it probably only got the higher rating there for some “dirty talk” that will go over kids’ heads anyway. 

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Duh. Of course. One partway through and one at the very end. Worth staying for if you like to get the full experience.

Stan Lee Cameo: I feel like I should start rating these… I loved this one. Another fun cameo and he was the perfect person for this part. 🙂

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

Ant-Man (2015) Review

Ant-Man (2015)

Directed by Peyton Reed

Story by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish

Based on Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Anthony Mackie, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas

Plot Synopsis:
Superhero ants.

My Opinion:

I finally saw Ant-Man! It was… okay. Everyone has reviewed it by now so the general vibe I got was that it wasn’t exactly the best superhero movie ever but it was a bit of fun anyway. Yep – that’s pretty much it.

First of all: Paul Rudd. I’ve talked of my love for Paul Rudd here a few times. I’d say he’s definitely the best thing about this and, had it been someone else playing Ant-Man, I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I mean, it’s about a tiny little superhero with an army of ants. It’s weird! The movie could have been a total disaster but I think they just managed to actually pull it off thanks to Rudd more than anything else.

With Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish writing this, I was hoping for a slightly better story (I found Cornish’s Attack The Block to be a pleasant surprise). The story was okay but it was kind of “same old same old”, as with most Marvel movies. I’m getting a tad bored with the superhero thing so I did appreciate that Ant-Man felt a little “different” (although nowhere near as different as Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is probably why that remains my favorite superhero movie of recent times & maybe my favorite ever).

You know what else I’m bored with? Reviewing superhero movies. I’m kind of glad to hear that Fantastic Four sucks so I don’t have to waste my time on that one. What else can I really say about Ant-Man?? If you love the Marvel films, you know you kind of need to see this as they’re all connected. As always, I don’t know a thing about the comics so I can’t compare but I doubt Ant-Man was anyone’s favorite character in the first place so I think Paul Rudd did a good job making such a potentially boring superhero so likeable.

Oh! Being a woman & mother of a young girl, I have to admit that my favorite element of the story involved Rudd’s scenes with his character’s daughter. She was so adorable! Nothing melts women’s hearts more than seeing a daddy protecting his daughter. Also, although you see it coming (which is fine as all Marvel films are pretty predictable), there’s a scene during the big climax at the end that was fantastic & saved the movie a little for me. I didn’t think Ant-Man was at all bad but the final half hour or so did really up my opinion of the movie as a whole.

Summary:

I know I sound a little bored with this movie but it’s just the overall superhero thing that doesn’t excite me so much anymore. They’re fun popcorn movies & I’m sure I’ll watch them all but I’m waiting for another one to surprise me in the way that Guardians Of The Galaxy did. I’d have to say I actually enjoyed Ant-Man more than some of the sequels involving Marvel’s much more famous superheroes (such as Iron Man). In fact, I’d almost say that I enjoyed this one a little more than Avengers: Age Of Ultron, although I think Ultron is a better film. I don’t know… Ant-Man is an enjoyable enough experience. I’m just happy that, of the two, Fantastic Four is the massive failure instead. I do love my Paul Rudd and am glad he did pretty well in this one.

My Rating: 7/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits? Don’t be silly – of course there is! Two, actually – a mid-credits & one after the credits. Fairly worth staying for…

Big Hero 6 (2014) Review

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*I chose an alternate movie poster because I really like it. It’s by artist Kaz Oomori.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams

Starring:
Ryan Potter
Scott Adsit
Daniel Henney
T. J. Miller
Jamie Chung
Damon Wayans, Jr.
Génesis Rodríguez
James Cromwell
Maya Rudolph

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

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My Opinion:

I was lucky enough to catch a preview of this the other weekend! It’s still not out fully until the end of January in the UK…

Since Disney has given us some great films in recent years (such as Frozen & Wreck-It Ralph), I had pretty high hopes for Big Hero 6. Luckily, it lived up to my expectations. I still think Frozen is the best one overall as far as the long-term impact it will have (think of all the five-year-old girls who worship Frozen – they’ll still feel the same way about the movie as they grow up). I can’t help but keep comparing Big Hero 6 to Wreck-It Ralph in my mind as they’re the more “boy” ones and I’m still not sure which one I like more. I think Big Hero 6 has the better overall story and you really can’t beat the character of Baymax (how many people now want their own Baymax?! I know I do!). 🙂 However, the entire concept of Wreck-It Ralph probably gives that movie a slight edge over Big Hero 6 for me. I don’t think the story was executed quite as well as in Big Hero 6 but it really was a brilliant idea for a story and created a more interesting “world”.

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The best thing about Big Hero 6, for me, is definitely Baymax the healthcare robot. His “personality” and the sweet relationship that develops between him & main character Hiro Hamada reminded me in a way of The Iron Giant (which is a very good thing). Why are there so many lovable robots in movies?! By the way, I was planning to post a “Top Ten Robots In Movies” list after this movie but I may now wait until I’ve seen Ex Machina, which I’m hoping will be amazing. Will Baymax be on the list? Hmm… Maybe! 😉 But my top two will NEVER change…

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We get some slightly predictable but heartwarming moments with Baymax as well as some very funny ones. I wasn’t expecting a ton of humor but there are a couple of hilarious bits with Baymax that made me look over at the hubby & smile – I love when that happens as I don’t find that many movies funny. I also really liked Hiro’s brother’s group of misfit friends (including the geeky “stoner” type – I always love the “stoner” types!). I think the characters in this were really strong for a kids’ film, even down to the brothers’ aunt who doesn’t have a huge role. The relationships work really well and the story, although somewhat disappointingly predictable, is very strong. It’s certainly one that can (and you totally know WILL) have a sequel or two and I’d happily watch them.

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Summary:

Big Hero 6 is another great film from Disney that’s just as enjoyable for adults and teenagers as well young kids. It’s also just a really good superhero film full stop (or “period” to my American buddies). Being dragged to movies for kids all the time, I really do appreciate ones such as these where I’M just as excited about seeing them. This has GREAT characters and it’s funny and it has some kick-ass action as well as all the heartwarming (and heartbreaking) moments you expect from a Disney film. The story is a little predictable but people need to remember that it’s a movie for kids and kids won’t have seen loads of superhero movies so the story won’t be predictable to them. I’d have to say that, although I think The Incredibles is a better film as far as kids’ superhero films go, I kind of enjoyed Big Hero 6 even more. The Incredibles has no Baymax. *fistbump!*

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Scene After The Credits?: Oh yes! I often forget to add this to my reviews even though I always stay to see if there’s a bit at the end. YES! There’s a scene after the credits that I think is very worth staying for, especially if you’re a comic book/superhero geek. Also…

Feast:

Almost forgot to mention this great short before the film. It’s adorable! I loved it. And it almost brought a tear to my eye when I realized what the “solution” was going to be at the end. Definitely arrive on time so that you can see this short beforehand as well.

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Iron Man 3 (2013) Review

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IRON MAN 3

Directed by Shane Black

Starring:
Robert Downey, Jr.
Gwyneth Paltrow
Don Cheadle
Guy Pearce
Rebecca Hall
Stephanie Szostak
James Badge Dale
Jon Favreau
Ben Kingsley

Synopsis (courtesy of IMDB):

When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

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My Opinion on superhero movies:

I like superhero movies a lot but overall I’m not the absolute biggest fan of them. So this review comes from someone who has never touched a comic book (well, I did read Watchmen – does that count?) and who knows ONLY what has been shown of all the superheroes in their Hollywood movies.

The X-Men movies were probably the first superhero movies to make me geek-out a little. Actually… To be honest, I remember loving Tim Burton’s Batman and thinking Jack Nicholson was cool as hell as the Joker & I think I even bought some Joker earrings at the time (give me a break – I was in my early teens). Then things like (the Tobey Maguire) Spider-Mans came along (entertaining enough – not brilliant) and Fantastic Four (meh) and I was starting to get a little bored with the superhero thing. Then Batman Begins & The Dark Knight came along, re-inventing the genre & making truly stunning “films” instead of mere “comic book” movies. You had Iron Man the same year as The Dark Knight and I was loving the superhero thing again. And although Batman Begins is a better “film”, I probably enjoyed the first Iron Man movie more. I was so pleasantly surprised by the first Iron Man. I loved that it was somewhere between the superhero movies that were a little too cheesy (Fantastic Four) and the very dark & serious Nolan Batman films. I loved Tony Stark’s charming arrogance & internal struggle (Ha! Well, yeah – all superheroes have that internal struggle thing I guess). My point is, I loved the first Iron Man & he’s definitely one of my favorite comic book characters as portrayed by Hollywood in the last ten years or so. So I’m a little disappointed to have to say that Iron Man 3 is a bit weak compared to the first two.

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My Opinion on Iron Man 3:

I think a big part of the problem is that this follows on from The Avengers. So, really, how can you actually expect to top THAT? You’re going from having superheroes galore fighting bad-ass aliens with over the top, non-stop action back to one guy going it alone against a bad guy who isn’t going to seem much of a threat when compared with the threat to all of humanity that we saw in The Avengers. And could none of the Avengers give Tony Stark a hand in this one? After all he did to help out at the end of The Avengers?! Ingrates. 😉

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The Good:

Ben Kingsley. Loved him. Can’t go into it much but he’s great in this role.

Harley. Probably one of those things that will divide people but I liked this little sub-plot.

The focus on one superhero again. Yes, I know I’ve just contradicted what I said above. Having all the superheroes in The Avengers was exciting, so it’s hard to top that excitement. But I also found that to be slight overkill in The Avengers so it was kind of nice just having one superhero to focus on again. Which is why it’s a shame that this script was so weak on character development when they had the chance to fully focus on Tony Stark again (more on that below).

The Iron Man suits. And gadgets. Still cool.

It’s Iron Man and it’s still fun, even if it’s not as good of a film as the other two (especially the first one, which is by far the best).

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The Not-So-Good:

Robert Downey Jr. Wait! Keep reading! I’m not saying he’s bad. Maybe I mean Tony Stark… Aside from a few panic attacks he’s suffering from due to the stress of what happened to him at the end of The Avengers, he doesn’t seem as “internally conflicted” as in the first two. That internal conflict thing is important in these superhero movies! I think this is the fault of the script for this one – he’s just not as well-developed as in the other two. But I suppose it’s perhaps hard to keep that up for three films (four including The Avengers). We all know Tony Stark by now. And, unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr seems a little bored in this one. The performance feels a bit “phoned in”. Sorry. He’s still better than….

Guy Pearce. He didn’t really work for me in this role. Weak character overall, I think.

Maya. Not that the character was bad – the character was wasted. They could have done more with her.

Tony Stark/Pepper Potts relationship. Not feeling it so much in this one. Again, though, I think that’s the fault of a script that doesn’t give you very fully-realized characters this time around.

The plot. It’s a bit “so what”. Especially after The Avengers. Just not as “exciting” as a lot of other superhero movie plots.

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End Credits Scene: Yes, there is one. Should you stay for it? Yes, if you’re a “completist” who MUST stay for all end credits scenes. But it’s not totally necessary to see it… So I guess it depends on how badly you have to pee. 🙂

Summary:

A popcorn-worthy addition to the Iron Man set of films but the script and plot feel a bit weak overall and the characters feel under-developed. It’s okay but not as strong as the first Iron Man & certainly not as fun or exciting as The Avengers.

My Iron Man Rating: 8/10

My Iron Man 2 Rating: 6.5/10

My Iron Man 3 Rating: 6.5/10

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My 2013 Movies Seen

**I’ve been too harsh! Upped my Iron Man 2 & 3 ratings a bit. I still enjoy the Iron Man series – they’ve just been weak compared with the first one.