Posts Tagged ‘Thor’

Thor Ragnarok is the third Thor solo outing, the subtitle being Viking mythology’s word for the apocalypse. In this entry Hela, the Goddess of death, has returned from banishment to conquer Asgard, with sites on the rest of the universe.

Ragnarok’s basic plot is pretty simple, but the strength of the movie is it’s humor and offbeat feel. Even the titular character himself cracks jokes adding to a vibe of almost parodying the often serious tone of the fantasy genre. It also continues the trilogy’s theme of family, exploring the relationships between Thor, his half brother Loki, and their father Odin.

At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe it certainly helps to be caught up on most of the movies. The last Thor ended with Loki impersonating Odin and therefore being the counterfeit ruler of Asgard. Ragnarok does attempt to bring the audience up to speed with Thor’s opening monologue (as opposed to Odin’s like the first two films), as well as a hilarious play which Loki/false Odin has commissioned, showing Asgardians a glorified version of his death from the last movie. It’s amusing that no one seemed to notice Odin acting completely different. Thor, who’d been away from Asgard for a time, immediately realizes what’s up.

A large chunk of the narrative involves Thor and Loki getting accidentally sent to the world of Sakaar, where Thor is captured, his hair cut, and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena. It’s too bad the Hulk’s inclusion was advertised, because if you can watch this movie and pretend not to know Hulk is in it, the identity of the gladiatorial champion is built up quite nicely.

Sakaar and its gladiator games are run by actor Jeff Goldblum, who seems to channel an amped up version of himself to play the character the Grandmaster. On Sakaar, Loki has warmed himself up to the Grandmaster, while Thor rots in the gladiator pits. One complaint I had is it was a lot to believe that the Grandmaster never caught on that Loki and Thor know each other, especially after the two brothers are seen talking right in front of him.

Visually, Sakaar and its inhabitants look great, and are a clear homage to legendary comic artist Jack Kirby. There’s also the usual Easter eggs to various things from comics, like when Thor was once a frog. Another Avenger makes a brief appearance, and there is one scene with Dr. Strange that is humorous but felt tacked on. The Infinity Gauntlet’s brief appearance in the first Thor movie is also explained in a way that’s pretty funny.

Aside from the humor what I liked best about this movie is that, more than any other MCU movie to date, it has real consequences to it. Things on the Thor end of this universe are changed unequivocally. Supporting characters have met permanent deaths, Thor himself has gone through a significant transformation, and the status quo for these characters has changed for good and will not be going back.

 

 

 

 

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Thor: The Dark World is the sequel to the 2011 Marvel film. Like the first film it opens with narration from Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins. He tells the story of how 5000 years ago the race of Dark Elves led by Malekith attempted to plunge the world into darkness while the nine realms were in alignment. They were stopped by the Asgardians, led by Odin’s father Bor. There’s a nice battle scene here that’s not as generic as the opening battle scene of the first movie. Between the laser blasts and medieval weaponry it’s a nice mix of Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings.

Cut to today, Loki is sentenced to the dungeons after the events of the Avengers. While confronting Odin, Loki remarks that he was only trying to do what Odin does, which is to rule.

Back on Earth Jane Foster is moving on with her life, but in the middle of a date events transpire to bring her and her colleagues to be involved with Asgardians again. After 5000 years the nine world are in realignment again, and the Dark Elves have returned to finish what they started.

This is a pretty epic movie that jumps around various locations in the nine realms. Loki is probably the most intriguing character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whose relationship with Thor, Odin, and Frigga are the highlight of the film. Frigga, Odin’s wife, has more of a role in the film BTW, and actually fights and seemingly beats the main villain. There’s great humor, including a surprise sort of cameo from Captain America the had the audience laughing out loud. The action of course is great, as I said it’s basically superheroes meets Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings with a little Star Trek thrown in for good measure. Not only that, but Thor legitimately can’t stop the villains on his own, and generally needs his Earthbound allies to help.

There’s also real changes in this movie, as at least one actual character dies. That’s one of the things I didn’t like about Iron Man 3, someone should have died, but this movie has real consequences. I liked that a lot.

One nit-picky thing, it’s mentioned that the Bi-frost/rainbow bridge had been destroyed, but in this film it’s been rebuilt. It doesn’t mention how it was restored. I guess we’re just to presume they rebuilt it. I happen to have read the Thor: Dark World comic prequel where it’s mentioned that the Bi-frost was restored using the power of the Tesseract.

Also wanted to mention, Heimdall says he can see 10 trillion people. That’s a lot.

The mid-credits scene is different, a new character is introduced to the MCU and we get some revelations about the Infinity Gems. We also get a post credit scene which relates to Thor and Jane Foster that’s pretty good.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t care for Iron Man 3, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to go strong with this entry. That’s the thing about this franchise, as I’ve said before, it’s not linear as other film franchises are. It’s like a tree with many branches, and more on the way. That’s why MCU has the potential for much longevity and success.

Thor Prelude

Thor the Dark World Prelude connects Marvel Movies and drops some insights into the nature of this universe along with some information regarding the current status of the nine realms.

It opens with the revelation that, since the Bi-frost bridge was destroyed in the last Thor movie, the nine realms have fallen into chaos without the protection/guidance of Asgard. Jotunheim, the ice world from the last Thor movie, is shown briefly. We also get a glimpse of the Planet Nidavellir, where Trolls may soon attack the dwarven King Eitri’s castle. There’s also civil war on the Badoon worlds, and marauders are fighting in the Vanaheim system. Nidavellir, Nix, and Korbin are also mentioned later.

This is all of great concern to Thor, who fears this chaos will bring about the Viking apocalypse known as Ragnarok. Odin assures him that “The universe forever moves toward Ragnarok. This is its nature.” but does acknowledge it’s coming faster without the presence of Asgardians.

Meanwhile Thor’s mother Frigga has various visions, through which we get a glimpse of Thanos, someone who is presumably the villain from the next Thor movie, and Loki. She realizes Loki is alive, and is planning something with the Tesseract (Plot of Avengers movie). This prompts Odin to use dark energy to send Thor to Earth. We get some discussion on how both Thor and Odin will pay a price for using this dark energy. I liked that bit because in the Avengers movie it almost seemed like a plot hole how Thor was able to come to Earth without the Bi-frost bridge.

The rest of the story has some good character bits. We see Jane Foster and Darcy get sent away to Norway as mentioned in the Avengers. She sees Thor on TV during the battle of New York and figures he’s forgotten about her. Depressed, she quits her research which involved opening a wormhole to Asgard. A good funny bit was during the NYC battle Iron Man jokes with Thor about the Game of Thrones TV show, saying “It’s like you, but instead of a magic hammer they have dragons and sex.”

After the battle Loki is confronted by his parents. Frigga holds onto hope that her son still has good in him, while Odin sees no hope and has him imprisoned. Loki sees himself as just wanting to do on Earth what Odin does in the nine realms. He even says “I might have even stolen a mortal infant and raised it as my own.”

The prelude ends with the Tesseract being used to restore the Bi-frost, and Thor gives a speech about how it’s the duty of Asgardian warriors to hold back the tide of Ragnarok. Since the days of Bor and Buri they’ve protected the nine realms. After the speech Thor and his warriors go off to restore order.

So far most comics set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been connective tissue and had little consequence (Last years Black Widow mini-series was an exception). Even though this Thor prelude serves a similar purpose it has some good character bits and is pretty enjoyable. Still, I hope someday they’ll do more MCU comics that are just they’re own original stories.

I was going to do before, but changed my mind for some reason, but then decided to just go ahead. This is my personal ranking of the films from Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let me say upfront that I did enjoy all of the movies; there aren’t any of them that I disliked. Here goes.

6 Iron Man 2.

The least critically acclaimed of the 6, but amusingly enough the second most successful behind Avengers. While some complained it was just an advertisement for the Avengers, I thought Black Widow fit in just fine, and the meeting about the Avengers Initiative was the last scene/happened after the main narrative anyway.

To me the weakness of this movie was its climax. Iron Man and War Machine spend a lot of film time fighting mindless drones, but the main villain Whiplash is defeated quickly (after almost beating them for a few seconds at least). Also I didn’t like Pepper Potts stepping down as the CEO of Stark Industries. Putting her there was a gutsy move and would have fit for the narrative of Avengers, but instead things went back to the status quo, which is itself a common criticism of the comic book world.

Still Mickey Rourke made a fantastic villain and it was still a fun movie overall.

5 Hulk

Not much to say about Hulk. Good chase scene movie. Gutsy move to not really focus on origin, although that could be partly because this was sort of a reboot. Nice cameo from Tony Stark to cement that this is a shared universe, along with the vague Captain America references. Can’t quite put my finger on why this doesn’t rank higher, it should.

4 Avengers

“OH MY GOD AVENGERS WAS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER!!!!” Well…no. Avengers was an incredible achievement in filmmaking, and it did have a lot on its plate. All the other movies did a great job of explaining who everyone was and things seemed to make sense. During the first 20 minutes of this I actually thought “Uh oh this might not be a good movie,” but it was. Still I wondered at one point how Thor knew what he did. No one wondered why Loki didn’t run away while Iron Man fought Thor. The helicarrier scene had a lot going on and I felt at first they kind of forgot about the bad soldiers that were, you know, invading the helicarrier. Plus during that sequence it was really hard to believe that Iron Man didn’t die or at least pass out from what he did.

Still this movie was spot on with character beats. It definitely captured that sense of overwhelming odds in the third act, and the falling action/denouement is one of the best on film.

3 Captain America

Great period piece action and great introduction to Steve Rogers in the first act before he becomes the Super Solider. It also captures the tragedy of the man lost out of time. However I must confess I was one of those people that didn’t like the downplaying of the Nazis. I don’t object to the presence of Hydra, that was a nice touch actually. It was just too much for me to believe that Hitler would have allowed the Red Skull to do his own thing. Dictatorships don’t work like that. You either fall in with the party line or you’re dead. They tried in one scene to justify/explain this but I still didn’t buy it. Otherwise this was a great movie that I might have put at #2.

2 Thor

Although much more predictable than Captain America, it’s done well enough that you don’t mind. Out of all the movies, it is Thor that goes though the strongest transformation during the course of his arc. Plus Asgard and the Destroyer look amazing, it has good action and humor beats. (Thor in the pet store is classic) You can pretty much guess everything that’s going to happen but with all these elements it works.

1 Iron Man

Phase One peaks out at its first movie with a perfect introduction to the new film universe and the man that is Tony Stark. Second only to Thor in the strength of its character arc, (Though in Tony’s defense his arc continues through IM2 and Avengers) we get the rotten scoundrel that is Tony Stark transformed during a near fatal incident, and alone tries to right his past wrongs. The humor, action, and character beats are pitch perfect. That and “Just call us SHIELD made me giddy.

Not to mention it has the best Phase One post title sequence, admittedly partly because it had the luxury of being first/you didn’t know to expect it. Think back to early 2008. There were rumors/hopes that an Avengers movie would come someday, but nothing definite.

Then all of a sudden, if you happen to stay after the credits for some reason, there’s this extra scene. Tony comes home, and Samuel L. Jackson is in his house! Who the hell is he, Nick Fury! “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative” is one of the most shocking moments in nerd history. It’s this generations “I am your Father.”

So there we have it. Now on to Phase Two!