Thor: Love and Thunder is great. Not as great as Thor: Ragnarok, but I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Especially the mid-credits scene at the end, which is glorious. I'd stay off the internets until you've seen the movie so it doesn't get spoiled... but it's a doozy. Especially if you're me. As if that weren't enough, there's Russell Crowe as Zeus. And he plays it in a way I was most definitely not expecting...
As has become my custom, I am not reviewing any films until they are released on home video... trying to avoid spoilers for people who may not be able to go to the theater in the Age of COVID.
But if I were to tease my thoughts? It's a worthy successor to Thor Ragnarok which could have taken itself a bit more seriously, but is another awesome Thor adventure just the same.
The film I am most looking forward to this year? Thor: Love and Thunder.
What Taika Waititi did with Thor in Ragnarok still boggles my mind. It was completely new and fresh... yet respected Jack Kirby's aesthetic in a retro way that was thrilling to watch. It was also funny in smart way that didn't turn the characters and story into a joke. To accomplish all that requires somebody with massive vision and talent. And now Taika is back with this...
So... yeah. Might be worth risking whatever new COVID variant is out there to see this one in the theater.
I wrote about Avengers: Endgame after watching it at the theater.
But when it was released on digital earlier this week, I decided to give it another look... then another look... so I could comment on it in a bit more linear fashion.
I still feel it's an amazing movie.... and even more amazing accomplishment...
Obviously there's going to be an abumndance of spoilers, so you've been warned...
The opening of the movie acts as a good recap of where we left off in Infinity War but, thankfully, isn't repetitive. Then Captain Marvel shows up, you realize that the Avengers she met in the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene ("Where's Fury?") must have sent her to find any off-planet Avengers survivors, and we're off to the races. The idea that the Earth Avengers and Space Avengers have no idea which of their teammates survived "The Snap" is pretty gutting. Especially when you get to Rocket comforting Nebula. And watching Rocket in these opening scenes just boggles my mind. You simply do not question that he's an actual character on-par with everybody else in the film. And he's a raccoon! Talk about movie magic.
Right from the start of Endgame you can tell that the entire purpose of the film is to wrap up everything which came before it. There's never-ending echos to past movies, and true fans are constantly being rewarded. This is pretty wild when you consider that Captain Marvel, easily the most powerful character in the entire film and the lynchpin for dealing with Thanos, hadn't even shot her solo movie when Endgame was being made. How everybody collaborated to make her appearance here sync up power-wise, visual-wise, and tone-wise with the Captain Marvel movie is the true marvel of Marvel Studios. There are single films which lack this kind of consistency. But here's Marvel making it look (relatively) effortless across 22 films (23 if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home).
Nowhere is Marvel's cohesiveness more visible than when Nebula is on-screen. She is a bit-part villain from a D-List comic book which has now become a central figure in the biggest super-hero team-up in cinematic history. It's so jaw-dropping amazing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Yes, Marvel had a master plan to use Infinity Gems as MacGuffins in all their films from very early on with the intent of somehow tying them all together in the end, but the fact that they managed to pull it all of this well? Thank you Kevin Feige.
Back to Captain Marvel... it's fairly easy to see how her off-the-charts power level is going to be challenging going forward. The current solution seems to be to have her be "off-planet and unavailable" but that's going to get really tired really fast. I mean, come on... just look at her when they're off to attack Thanos! How many problems couldn't she solve in five minutes? Sure it's cool how totally confident she is, how kick-ass she is, how powerful she is... and her glowing aura is giddy-inducing wonderful... but I'm more than a little curious to see how she's going to play out in the future of the MCU.
Killing Thanos in the first twenty minutes is pretty ballsy, but it definitely leaves you wondering where they're going to go from here if the main villain of the movie is gone. And little did we suspect...
And lo did a rat activate the Quantum Tunnel which freed Ant-Man from being trapped in The Quantum Realm! It's funny to think about how Ant-Man ends up being the key to absolutely everything, but that's how Marvel rolls. They find surprising ways to make small characters have big impact in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, they've got the ample acting chops of Paul Rudd behind the character or these scenes of "life after The Snap" would have rang hollow (ditto for Scarlett Johansson, who has a handle on somebody being haunted like nobody's business).
At the 30-minute-mark, Scott Lang shows up at Avengers Compound and the movie starts for real.
It also shows its hand.
Because the minute that I saw how much time they were devoting to Tony Stark's happy post-Snap life, I knew... knew... he was a goner. Luckily, Robert Downey Jr. gives the performance of a lifetime and totally sells it. Watching him interact with his daughter... with Pepper... with his former teammates... it's all so... beautiful?... I guess is the word I'm looking for? Tony's character arc over the past decade has totally come full-circle, and it's everything you could hope for. And speaking of story arcs...
Here we are introduced to Smart Hulk... the merging of The Hulk and Bruce Banner. It's a wonderful coda to Bruce Banner's arc through all the Marvel Studios films. Finally, at long last, Banner and Hulk are at peace and living in harmony. It's also a terrific starting point for new Hulk stories (should we be lucky enough to get them). What's even more remarkable than Smart Hulk is the absolutely mind-blowing computer graphics which brought him to life. Flawless. His every facial expression is realized to such a degree that the whole "Uncanny Valley Effect" is minimized. At no point did he take me out of the story. It's just... all Mark Ruffalo all the time.
If there's a scene which illustrates just how deftly Marvel manages to work humor into their stories, it's the time travel experiments with Scott. It's funny, but it's not just being injected at random for the sake of being funny (like the horrific Joss Whedon "humor" that was shoe-horned into DC's Justice League after the fact). Marvel's humor feels like it has purpose and is there to advance and serve the story. And that's why it succeeds. Plus we get Smart Hulk handing out tacos!
If you didn't think that Tony Stark was going to die after watching his family scenes, you definitely knew it when he handed Cap his shield back.
The reunion between Hulk and Valkyrie, completely cementing Thor: Ragnarok even further into the MCU grand narrative, is one of the rare moments in the film that had me scrambling for an explanation. In Ragnarok, Bruce didn't remember anything about his 5 years as The Grandmaster's "beloved champion." But here he does. Which means that when Banner and Hulk merged, the result has memory experience of both? That's gotta be the stuff of nightmares.
I read more than a few comments about how Thor's weight gain was just a way to make fun of heavier people. I didn't see this at all. The result of Thor's PTSD actually seemed like it was handled with great thought and care... even if there were some comments made by other characters which were pretty mean and played for laughs. What did bother me was the whole "shake it off and move on" attitude that was leveled at poor Thor. That seems deliberately cruel and unjust. After what he's been through, you'd expect a bit more empathy from his friends. On the bright side, this is yet another remarkable performance by Chris Hemsworth which has me dying to see more Thor.
Clint Barton's descent into a murdering vengeance-seeking bastard seems a bit forced but, seeing as how the guy lost his entire family, perhaps it's not such a stretch. This "Ronin" persona is kinda-sorta from the comics, but it makes even less sense in this film. Why in the hell would Hawkeye give up the bow and arrow with which he reigns supreme? Obviously the ramifications of Endgame will be explored in the Hawkeye series on Disney+, so I guess they can afford to short-change his character here... but it still seems wild how his character could change so much with so little explanation.
And here's where we get to how time travel works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I'm saving my thoughts on how it works for further down the page, but suffice to say I really like what they've done here. It makes perfect sense. Regardless, we get current Avengers going back into earlier Marvel Studios movies, and how cool is that?
And here's where the fun begins...
ANT MAN, IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: The "behind the scenes" of what happened after the Battle of New York was kinda cool... but hands-down the best moment was how Cap managed to secure the scepter from Hydra. Right before Robert Redford makes a guest appearance! I was even more surprised by this than I was at seeing The Ancient One! And of course this is where Loki from the past becomes the new Loki, allowing him to appear in his Disney+ series while not negating his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Clever that. Almost as clever as "America's Ass."
SMART HULK: The amount I died when Smart Hulk was "smashing" to impersonate his more rage-fueled earlier self was pretty huge. Then he goes to retrieve the Time Stone and the first of many guest-appearance bombshells is dropped... The Ancient One is back! Mainly as a way to explain how time works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again. Which, again, I will comment on further down the page.
THOR & ROCKET: Frigga coming back to help Thor in the way only a mother can was exceedingly sweet. Finally, here's somebody not making fun of Thor for being traumatized by what he's experienced and genuinely trying to help. At least until she told him to eat a salad. We also get the tiniest of appearances by Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, which was nice. And was probably due to her coming back for Thor: Love and Thunder.
NEBULA & RHODEY: They could have easily come up with a way to remove the Power Stone without stripping the shell off of Nebula's robotic arm, but it's actually a genius move because it will be an easy visual cue for distinguishing "good" Nebula from her "bad" past-self. Out of all the teams, this is the one that gets a lot complex in a little amount of time thanks to Thanos of the time finding out what The Avengers are up to.
IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: Well this was an added bonus. We get guest appearances not only by 1970's hippie Stan Lee and Farrah-hair Hank Pym... but Howard Stark and Peggy Carter as well! Seeing as how Tony dies and Steve ends up retired, I suppose it's only fitting that they get to reconcile the relationships which most haunt them.
BLACK WIDOW & HAWKEYE: I realize that the only way to make victory ring true would be for some sacrifices to be made along the way... but Black Widow? Like Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, she's the glue that holds all the movies together. Unlike Nick Fury, Natasha has been pretty much shafted over the years. She exists only to forward other characters' stories without getting much of story of her own. Sure they are remedying that by finally giving her her own film, but she's forever stuck in the past now, and that's lame. She deserved a future in the MCU after how she's been there for literally everybody else, and now she ain't got one. Still, given how The Soul Stone works, I guess somebody had to die. I don't know that Hawkeye would be a better choice, so maybe this was the right choice. I certainly feel it more than if it had been Clint. But I'm still bitter about it.
I'll try to ignore the question of how The Milano (ship to The Guardians of the Galaxy) has evaporated only to appear again at the end of the film... let's just assume that Clint shrunk it again before he went forward in time. And it seems weird it is that The Infinity Gauntlet conveniently courses with gamma radiation just like The Hulk, giving him the ability to wield it... whatever. What I'd like to focus on is how Ant-Man has the ability to shrink... then grow into Giant-Man... when it was made abundantly clear that he was out of Pym particles? This gaping plot hole is ridiculously easy to see, and yet it was totally ignored. And Janet VanDyne was absolutely not wearing The Wasp suit when she was dusted (I checked) so where did she get her Pym Particles?
The final battle was pretty phenomenal, all things considered.
Even when you give a pass to Captain America being able to lift Thor's hammer. There's plenty of comic book history precedent for Steve being able to wield Mjölnir. Heck, the MCU hinted that it was possible back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was a smart way to give Captain America the ability to take on Thanos which was believable. What I don't understand is how he got to control lightning with it. As explained by Odin in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor himself is where the lightning comes from, and Mjölnir merely allows him to focus it more easily. Perhaps Mjölnir has some kind of residual lightning charge which makes this possible, but it still seems an odd thing to have happen. How does Cap even know how to make the lightning work? How does he know how to summon Mjölnir in the first place?
No other point in the movie hit more of an emotional note with me than when Cap is facing horrific odds all alone against Thanos and his entire army... than when he hears Sam say "On your left" through his earpiece. That's yet another nod to a past MCU film (Winter Soldier). It's the turning point of the entire movie, and any fan of the past decade will be cheering.
Back in Civil War when Hawkeye is facing off against Black Panther, an opponent for which he's badly outmatched, he buys time by saying "We haven't been introduced. My name is Clint." Black Panter says "I don't care." and proceeds to start pummeling his ass. During the Endgame final battle, Black Panther wants the Infinity Gauntlet and says "Clint, give it to me," at which point I got the warm fuzzies. Awwwwwww. T'Challa remembered his name! He must care a little bit after all!
Poor Wanda. She has to deliver the same line to Thanos that she gave to Ultron. Lucky for her, she's definitely got the power to back up any threat she makes, and having her battle Thanos was pretty sweet.
Spider-Man bringing back "instant-kill" from Homecoming was an LOL moment for me.
Captain Marvel gets the entrance to beat all entrances, and watching her decimate Thanos's ship all by her lonesome was pretty epic. Though not quite as epic as it would have been had we not already seen her so that in Captain Marvel. Still, having her be the only one who can truly go toe-to-toe with Thanos via brute force was more than enough.
The "Ladies of the MCU" moment may have been artificial and manufactured, but I just don't care. We've come a long way from when Black Widow was the sole female super-hero in the MCU.
And then we reach the end of the battle when Doctor Strange tells Tony that this is the moment.
I really, really, wish somebody had laughed at Thanos as his shit faded away.
Rumor has it that Tony originally had dialogue as he lay dying. Robert Downey Jr. felt it would be more powerful if there was nothing left for him to say... his actions and sacrifice speaking more than words ever could... and he's absolutely right. Watching as the beginning of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very first film has his life fade away was about as powerful way to close out The first decade as we could have hoped for.
The reactions from the characters at Tony's service are interesting... as is the order which they appear. His family is first, of course. Followed by his closest friends. Followed by Captain America, who has seen many, many soldiers die in battle, and you kind of get that perspective on his face... stoic, but showing loss. Since Peter Parker is just a kid, I'm glad they had Aunt May there for him. Thor has experienced loss that nobody else here could possibly fathom, so Hemsworth gave him an unease that is perfectly fitting. Smart Hulk's more emotional response was exactly what was needed to drive home that this Hulk is very different from the early days of the character. Doctor Strange is in the unique position of knowing that he essentially sent Tony to his death, but also knows there was literally no other possible way to win this. The Ant-Man "family" had little to do with Tony Stark, so they appear a bit more detached, as they should be. The Guardians of the Galaxy have the most interesting response. All but Quill are aliens, and their perspectives on death are undoubtedly far removed from ours, which is smartly reflected. Note that Gamora is gone, her character having reverted back to a more raw state (something confirmed in the deleted scenes). Also note that Nebula gets a longer shot than most, which is apt considering how she is closest to the entire Infinity Saga and crucial to how it played out. Black Panther, Okoye, and Shuri's presence representing Wakanda is appropriately stately and reserved. Clint and his family here are a bit more affected than you'd expect... until you realize that this goodbye is more about Natasha to them than Tony Stark. Sam and Bucky, who have done nothing but fight since they met, have common ground here, leading directly into their upcoming Disney+ series, I'm sure. Wanda, likewise, is probably thinking more about losing Vision than Tony, but that too is leading into a Disney+ series. The young guy standing alone confused some people, but I recognized him immediately as Harley, the kid from Iron Man 3, and I'm glad they thought to add him here. I completely missed Maria Hill and General Ross when I saw the film in theaters, but it makes sense they're here. Captain Marvel is the one character who feels a bit out of place, yet it would be strange if she weren't here given her impact on the final battle. And then there's Nick Fury, the glue that holds the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe together saved for last. Perfect.
It was nice at the end to acknowledge that Tony wasn't the only one who sacrificed his life. Black Widow and Vision are gone as well. Though Black Widow has a movie coming up, and Vision is assumably a part of the WandaVision Disney+ series.
Valkyrie becoming queen of New Asgard is absolutely fitting, and sure to be explored in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. Having Thor rejoin the "Asguardians of the Galaxy" should have interesting consequences going forward for both these franchises.
And... here's the end-end-end of the movie. Cap heads back with the Infinity Stones to prevent new realities from ever forming, Hulk acknowledges that he misses Natasha, and Falcon is given Old Cap's shield (from an alternate reality, see below) so he can become the new Captain America. Of course Bucky is there, which is a jumping off point for the new Falcon and Winter Soldier Disney+ series. Neat!
After the movie debuted, fanboys immediately got their panties in a bunch because of Steve Rogers' decision to go back in time and lives a life with Peggy Carter that he would have had if he hadn't been frozen in ice for decades. "THIS CONFLICTS WITH PEGGY SAYING THAT SHE MARRYING SOMEBODY STEVE RESCUED IN THE FIRST MOVIE!" and "STEVE ERASED PEGGY'S LIFE WITH HER HUSBAND AND KIDS! WHAT AN ASSHOLE!" Except... he didn't. As the movie went into meticulous detail explaining, that's not what happens with time travel disruptions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As explained by Hulk and Nebula to Ant-Man and Rhodey before they experiment on Clint... any change to the past creates an alternate reality...
This was such an important point for the story that they had The Ancient One re-explain it to The Hulk. The writers literally provided visuals to make it crystal clear...
Which is why I go crazy every time I hear a new diatribe on Captain America's time travel being a plot-hole. Let's break this down one more time, shall we? If you go to the past, the future becomes your past, so the future can't be changed. So when you change something in the past (like take an Infinity Stone), a new reality is created where that Infinity Stone has disappeared from existence. In order to fix this, Captain America went back in time and returned the stones to a point before any changes would create a new reality. Namely, he returned them to immediately after they were taken in the first place. This closed the loop and the new reality which was created then fades away because it never existed...
It's an incredibly simple concept.
And it applies to Steve Rogers' journey back in time as well.
At the end of Endgame, Steve returns the Infinity Stones and all the new realities created by their removal no longer exist. He then goes back in time to the late 40's or early 50's... before Peggy Carter got married and had kids... to live out his life with her. As clearly stated, this change creates a new reality where Steve is the one who marries Peggy. His original reality... the reality of all the Marvel Studios movies... where Peggy got married to some other guy, had kids, got dementia, then died... still exists because, to Steve, it's the past. And after Peggy died and Steve was ready to return to his original reality, he traveled back into the past BEFORE the new reality was created... then traveled into the future of the original reality as an old man (which is what we see at the end of the movie)...
So does this mean that other reality where he married Peggy was erased? NO! because now that is in Steve's past! That reality is still there too. An alternate reality which may or may not be revisited in future Marvel films.
It all makes perfect sense, and everything works exactly as it was spelled out in the movie. If there's a plot-hole here, it's that the objects which the stones were encased were forgotten...
I love that YouTube Channel. And, no, I have no clue as to what happened in the new reality which was created when Loki escaped with the Space Stone. Perhaps that will be addressed in his Disney+ series? Because unless he crosses back over into the primary reality, that's where he is now. Our Loki is still dead. I guess I'll just ignore it all until we actually get the series.
WHERE DID OLD CAP'S SHIELD COME FROM?!? If he brought it from the new reality he created when he went back to be with Peggy... if he found his other-dimensional-self in the ice there, then dug up the shield, but left himself frozen... does that Captain America not get a shield when he is rescued from the ice in the future? Or maybe Old Cap waits until New Reality Cap wakes up, then asks himself for the shield so he can take it back to his original reality, leaving New Reality Cap with nothing? Or did he go to New Reality Wakanda and convince them to make him a second shield so he had one to take back with him? That would have been interesting to see. Or... best theory... New Reality Captain America dies, and Old Cap retrieves the shield? Who the heck know? Regardless, it's incredibly lame that this gaping plot hole was left dangling. One can only hope that the New Reality Steve created will be revisited in future MCU films so we can have an answer... or ten.
Given the nature of comic books, there's nothing to say that Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Natasha Romanoff can't return in future movies, even though somebody new will undoubtedly be taking up their super-hero mantles (ala Sam becoming Captain America). They could come back in dream sequences... flashbacks... resurrections... alternate reality versions... whatever. Black Widow's movie takes place entirely in the past, so that's yet another way to have them come back. Though, to be honest, it's probably more powerful if their characters aren't brought back. That kinda cheapens their sacrifice and will diminish their legacies.
So... good flick. Impossible flick given the complexities of juggling so many Marvel Studios franchises, a decade of history, and dealing with the astronomically high expectations of Marvel fans. For the most part, it feels like they succeeded. I certainly had no complaints walking out of the movie theater... or turning off my AppleTV.
As for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, if Spider-Man: Far From Home is any indication, it's going to be just fine. Hopefully Kevin Feige will find a way to pull another rabbit out of the battered old hat with weak series like The Eternals and Shang-Chi in the pipeline. Hey, he sure managed it with Guardians of the Galaxy!
Here's hoping the next decade is even half as exciting as the first.
The bird feeder outside the window continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.
The cats are happy to spend hours watching the birds come and go. Jake spends the most time watching Bird TV... pawing at the window and chattering at them, but Jenny is a bit stealthier about it, preferring to hide like the hunter she is...
No doubt in my mind that both my cats would be massacring birds by the dozens if they could get at them. Just one more reason to keep them indoors, I suppose. Poor birds.
And poor bugs.
Any time a bug finds its way into my house, Jake and Jenny are all too happy to hunt them down. Like the poor cricket which Jenny was kind enough to bring in this past week. I saw she had something in her mouth... feared the worst... then watched as she spit him on the floor so she could chase him. Jake also decided to run up and get in on the action...
As much as Jake likes chasing an occasional bug, he seems to prefer his toys. In addition to Mufasa, his stuffed lion, he loves his Peeps Bunny...
And he really loves Catnip Lobster...
Every once in a while he plays "Watch the Dummy" and will throw it on the bed and wait for me to pick it up and hand it back...
Toys are far preferable to bird corpses, I'd think.
They're definitely preferable to bug vomit.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 17: Thor: Ragnarok
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Easily one of my favorite Marvel Studios films... perhaps my very favorite... I love this film now as much as I ever did. Deciding to take Thor in a more comedic direction and deconstruct everything he was to this point was absolutely brilliant, and made the character more cinematically interesting than he had ever been.
SCENE TO BEAT: All of them. I mean, yeah, the Hulk reveal and subsequent fight is awesome... as is Valkyrie's... and any scene with the incomparable Cate Blanchett's Hela was gold... and Jeff Goldblum was too perfect as The Grandmaster... and that gorgeous battle between Hela and the Valkyrie... and the battle on the Rainbow Bridge with Thor at full power... and Thor meeting Doctor Strange is the stuff that comic book dreams are made of... and... and... and... it goes on and on and on.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Though I still think it was shortsighted and selfish to kill off The Warriors Three.
SIDENOTE: Could there have been a bigger love letter to the art of Jack Kirby than this movie? With every new viewing, I'm even more amazed at just how beautiful and faithful Sakaar is to Kirby's work.
Ooh! Strawberries and blueberries were on sale!
I've been eating them morning noon and night in an effort to get through them all before they rot. Because the only thing worse than having berries be absurdly expensive is having affordable berries that you end up throwing away...
Now I'm on the hunt for marionberries, blackberries, or (if I've very lucky) boysenberries on sale.
Thought it's probably better if I don't find them, because those suckers would end up going in a pie, and I don't need that kind of carb load this late in my life!
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 8: Thor: The Dark World
Original Grade: B • Today's Grade: B+
Often seen as a weak link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, I actually liked this film very much. Not necessarily for the story, which feels slapped together and disjointed... nor the villain, since Malekith looks more silly than threatening... but for all the parts that work so well. Hemsworth and Hiddleston are totally on their game as Thor and Loki. Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings are perfectly inhabiting the roles of Jane, Selvig, and Darcy that they created. But my favorite part is marveling over the sheer adventure of it all. The battle at Vanaheim... the Dark Elves attack... the escape from Asgard... every minute on Svartalfheim... Thor's hammer finally acting exactly like Thor's hammer should... so many cool comic book moments. Marry all that to lush visuals, stunning production design, and epic special effects, and it was a much better movie than some critics made it out to be. This is one of the Marvel Studios films I've only seen a couple times and I hadn't watched it in years. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would so I'm bumping it up a half grade.
SCENE TO BEAT: Loki becoming Captain America. Bless Chris Evans for being such a good sport and making appearances like this!
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Malekith and the Dark Elves were just awful as antagonists. And it drives me bonkers how Jane and Selvig could "science" their way out of a situation they have practically zero knowledge to combat. The result being Jane's "science box" which inexplicably transports exactly the stuff needed for the story? And Selvig's "science poles" which save the day in the most deus ex machina way possible? Beyond lame.
SIDENOTE: "The Aether" MacGuffin actually being the Reality Stone in liquid form was just one more step to Avengers: Infinity War... and giving it to The Collector in the mid-credits scene beautifully set up Guardians of the Galaxy. Loki becoming Odin seemed like such a tired decision at the time, but was so wonderfully wrapped up in the third Thor movie, Ragnarok, that it turned out to be a great twist.
This Sunday is 17% more lethal than usual... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Vote! Voting in the August Primary was fairly easy for me. If you're a Republican, I Google to see how hard you've worked to disavow President Trump and his entire cesspool of an Administration. If you haven't... or, heaven forbid, you support the assholes... you get no vote from me. I then look at all the Democrats and research who is in a best position to defeat the Trump-enabling Republican running. Because right now? That's all I give a shit about. Making sure that every last fucking Republican who isn't whole-heartedly disavowing Trump goes down in fucking flames. I don't want Republicans to LOSE in the upcoming election... I want them to be UTTERLY DECIMATED AND DESTROYED. I used to vote with no regard to party affiliation and ended up with both Republicans and Democrats on my ballot. Not any more. After Trump, Republican politicians don't deserve air to breathe, let alone my fucking vote...
Has there ever been so petty a piece of shit president in this country? LeBron has done more for education by opening up ONE SCHOOL than Trump, DeVos, and their entire administration has ever done.
• Shit! Late-night television is really something else. SexToys followed by Larry King? Seems about right...
And after that? More shit, along with some other program before it...
Larry King is one of those people who I can't for the life of me understand how they got famous. He has to be one of the worst interviewers of all time. He has no fucking clue what he's talking about and always seems woefully unprepared and completely ignorant as to the person he's interviewing. At least now he's putting is "talent" to appropriate use by hawking senseless shit in infomercials.
• Cool! This week I took the "What I have in my refrigerator" challenge...
YES! FOUR KINDS OF MAYO!!! I use the cheap stuff for salads, Best Foods for burgers, Kraft for egg salad, and Dukes for fries (I use it when I'm out of Dutch mayo, like now). If I had to give them all up, I'd eat only Dutch mayo.
• Big Gunn Two! Another take on where we are now...
Twitter... memories that never really go away...
• Failure to Launch! Johnny Rockets, where I first discovered Boca Burger patties years ago in Santa Monica, has now replaced them with a Black bean patty. Which is stupid as fucking hell. People go to Johnny Rockets for a BURGER. Even vegetarians go there for a BURGER. They just don't want to kill a cow to get one. And what's really stupid? THEY'RE ALL FUCKING FROZEN! They could have had both of they wanted a black bean burger so badly. And so... after decades of visiting Johnny Rockets around the globe... no more Rockets, bitches. No more Rockets for me.
• Liberty! And, lastly, here it is for those eating paste right from the jar...
NEWS: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces "Religious Liberty Task Force."
This is the most insane, fucked-up bullshit yet. We now need a task force to protect Christianity?!? Because it should be painfully obvious that they are NOT doing this to protect Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, or any other NON-CHRISTIAN religions. Since when are Christians a minority in need of protection? Last time I checked, they weren't fucking BURNING CHRISTIANS IN THE STREETS. Last time I checked, you could still go in a fucking UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT POST OFFICE AND BUY NATIVITY STAMPS FOR CHRISTMAS. Last time I checked, CHRISTIANITY WAS THE LARGEST RELIGIOUS GROUP IN THE COUNTRY. Make no mistake... NO MISTAKE... this is nothing more than a full-on attack on gay, lesbian, and transgender persons... and any other American who doesn't fit into the mold that these fucked-up assholes feel is acceptable. Disgusting. Task force? Horse shit. Nothing like your own government spreading fear and persecution to keep their power. I wonder if they'll be required to wear uniforms? Brown shirts, perhaps? No... probably more like white hoods...
Until next Sunday then...
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 4: Thor
Original Grade: B+ • Today's Grade: B+
I was never a huge fan of the Thor comic books. Sure I read them off-and-on... sure I loved what Walt Simonson did with the character in his run... but he never got to the level of Doctor Strange or Black Panther or Fantastic Four or Iron Man for me. But then this movie dropped and I became a pretty huge Thor fan. Partly because the movie was done so well... but mostly because I could see just how Thor would work as another piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of the credit can be given to Kenneth Branagh for bringing a majesty to the character and to Asgard that the film needed to sell the story. Asgard was epic in scope and beautifully designed. Silly concepts like Bifröst, a "rainbow bridge," were given perfectly believable representations that worked. And though his full potential wouldn't be seen until Ragnarok, how frickin' perfect is Chris Hemsworth in the role? Not anybody else was a slouch in the acting department. Anthony Hopkins is about the best possible Odin we could have hoped for. Tom Hiddleston brought so much energy to playing Loki that the character has been as much a lynchpin for the MCU as its heroes. Idris Elba, Natalie Portman, Renee Russo, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings... anybody and everybody was so wonderfully, thoughtfully cast. And a standing ovation to Patrick Doyle for the score. Soaring and beautiful, it was a tangible presence throughout the film. Overall, Thor was a crucial step on the road to Avengers that could have been a disaster. Instead it's a worthy addition that totally holds up.
SCENE TO BEAT: The frost giant battle puts a pin in what makes Thor be Thor.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: There are two problems with this film that I have a tough time getting past. 1) The entire span of the film happens over like... what... two... three days? Yes I love the movie, but if you stop a minute and think about how insane the timetable is, things get a little ridiculous. 2) They bleached Hemsworth's eyebrows and it looks crazy distracting. Thankfully they gave up on this absurdity in future movies.
SIDENOTE: When they decided to do away with the whole secret identity nonsense in Iron Man, I honestly thought that would be the end of it. But then along comes Thor, and Dr. Donald Blake was brought up, then dropped like a hot potato. It was a fantastic decision which has been carried forward (more or less) with each new movie. So smart. Given the rather short runtime of a major motion picture, there's just not time to waste on the whole idea, so why bother? It was cute in the original Superman movies, got tired in the Batman films, and is downright silly now. Sure special effects are so economical and amazing that we can show Superman doing all kinds of crazy awesome stuff... but let's blow precious screen-time having Clark Kent investigate a story. And while Hawkeye is the butt of a lot of jokes when it comes to the Marvel Studios films, I have to say they gave him a really good cameo here as we ramped up for Avengers.
You would think that when you pay for a movie in iTunes that the poster art would remain the same as when you bought it. But that's not the case. A while back Marvel started changing all the artwork in their store, which ended up changing the artwork on all the movies I bought.
And it all sucks.
Not that I'd be thrilled if it were better than the originals... I want the art that I recognize so I can recognize the movies I own. I want what I originally purchased.
Take for example the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy...
They hacked up pieces of the original poster, rearranged them, then slapped them on a boring-ass background. It looks worse than shitty, because there's no composition or context. Can you tell what in the hell Star-Lord is doing? Holding on to a handle? Who the hell knows?
The sequel poster is even worse. The cool and colorful art with all kinds of cool movie imagery in the background. It's been replaced with something so boring as to be sedate by comparison...
Thor: The Dark World is especially horrific in that he no longer looks like the god of thunder, but somebody in a red cape and bad hair...
Since most Marvel movies take place in New York City, Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air since it switched it up to the West Coast and San Francisco. To be sure there was no mistaking this, they put it right there on the poster...
When they remade it, they simply stripped away all the cool supporting elements and slapped some ugly-ass faux-metallic effect. Lame.
Group films like Avengers have posters that are carefully crafted to show the dynamic of the team. But now all we get is a grotesque cut-and-paste hack-job that has no interplay between characters and no dynamic. Somebody with a box of Colorforms could do the same damn thing... and probably better, since people wouldn't have their legs cut off and be suspended in air...
Another great example of this... Captain America: Civil War. What was the most incredible part of the film? The fact that there was a massive battle which pits hero against hero. But the new poster rips this away, completely confusing the story. For all we know from looking at the shitty art, this is a Captain America and Iron Man buddy picture. Or an Iron Man movie with a guest-spot by Cap, since the figures have been reversed and Stark is in the #1 spot...
Doctor Strange is a mind-bending film which introduces magic and other dimensional planes to the Marvel Universe. But now? Some guy in a red cape with a tall collar? Shitty. Utterly shitty...
I think my most hated poster remake is for Iron Man 3...
The original poster was SO cool. Foreboding atmosphere, Tony's house exploding, and The Iron Legion are all there... along with a ravaged but determined Iron Man. But the remake? You can barely even tell that's Iron Man. Looks like the cover to some kind of Harlequin Romance or a shitty, low-budget crapfest. And can somebody please explain why the characters are fading into a star-field?
I understand the thinking in redoing the posters. They are trying to create something that will be easily understood at the smaller thumbnail sizes that you'll find in iTunes or other movie streaming services. But when they come up with something this shitty, does it really matter if you more easily understand them? If anything, I'd argue that the original posters are more distinct and interesting... even if you can't fully tell what's going on when reduced to tiny sizes.
At the very least, they could leave it up to the buyer which poster to display in their iTunes library.
Because the new crop is more than just ugly and boring... they're offensively bad design.
And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward.
Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess.
Except not really...
If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort.
Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really.
Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet.
You've been warned.
And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it.
And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy.
Spoilers await in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Thor: Ragnarok was my favorite movie of 2017 by a wide margin. It was smart, imaginative, and funny in a way that most films never reach, and the fact that they somehow got that out of a super-hero movie is pretty remarkable.
Ragnarok hits home video on February 20th (DVD and Blu-Ray in March, I think). Needless to say, I can't wait. Especially when I saw this deleted scene making its way around the internet where Jeff Goldblum is being his most Jeff Goldblumiest...
Scenes this good have had entire movies built around them. In this movie, it's a deleted scene. Unbelievable.
It is tempting... so very tempting... to say that Thor: Ragnarok is my favorite film to come out of Marvel Studios. Except... how can it be? Surely my favorite film is the first Avengers movie. Isn't it? I mean, that was the prize. That's what everything had been leading to. Finally, at long last, we had a super-hero team movie that actually worked. That was actually good.
And yet... holy crap was Ragnarok amazing. Hilariously funny, but not so farcical that the action beats and serious bits fell flat. Game-changing, but still completely faithful to the source material. Different in feeling and tone from the Marvel we're accustomed to, but still familiar and wholly entertaining.
Thor: Ragnarok is the complete package.
There are precious few things about this movie I don't love. A short list, just to name a few things off the top of my head, that I love most...
I have no idea what the coming Avengers: Infinity War means for Marvel's original character base. Iron Man? Captain America? Thor? will any of them even survive it? If Thor does, they could do a lot worse than to invite back Ragnarok director Taika Waititi (who says he'd love to do another one).
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Fantastic Four (2005)... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Fantastic Four (2015)... D+
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... A
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Spider-Man: Homecoming... A+
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
Thor: Ragnarok... A++
The Wolverine... B
Wonder Woman... A
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+