Have You Heard The One About Thor: Ragnarok?

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Thor: Ragnarok has laughs. Plenty of them. Perhaps too many. Allow me to explain…

I’ll start by saying there is a huge amount to love about Marvel’s third solo outing for the God of Thunder. First of all it’s the most fully rounded vision of Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby’s four-colour hero to date, Kirby’s cosmic visuals are like a roadmap for Thor: Ragnarok. It’s also yet another step forward for both the Thor solo franchise and indeed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in embracing its comic book roots.

There’s little desire to coddle non-comic book fans with grounded scenes set on Earth (and the whistle-stop moments we do get on our home planet actually push things into even geekier comic books realms, particularly in one cameo sequence, teased at the end of a previous movie). Within the first twenty minutes or so we’ve been taken to Hell (or the Norse equivalent), Asgard (including another couple of genuinely jaw-dropping cameos), Earth and then into the vast reaches of outer space. It’s all colourful, exciting and breathtaking, and the pace doesn’t really let up, cutting between Thor’s adventures in space and events back on Asgard.

We’re also given the best version of the onscreen Hulk yet, realised by Mark Ruffalo along with state of the art mo-cap, animation and fine attention to detail with character so he now has full Hulk-speak dialogue scenes (and jokes) with other characters. Special mention to Tessa Thompson too, for giving us a delightful, kick ass version of a much-loved Marvel character. I really hope we see more of her in future movies. Idris Alba is given a little more screen time as Heimdall but still feels wasted. Director Waititi features as another comic character, alien stone man Korg, engaging and pretty much played for laughs.

The film also mostly succeeds in breaking the curse of the underwhelming Marvel villains by giving us several of them, all in various hues and shades of villainy. Cate Blanchett is obviously having a bad guy ball as Hela, Queen of the Underworld, Karl Urban crops up to reaffirm his geek cred as Skurge, The Executioner, there’s the ever mercurial Loki brilliantly essayed by Tom Hiddleston, of course, plus we have Jeff Goldblum doing his best Jeff Goldblum thing as The Grandmaster. They’re all layered, interesting and fun.

Ah yes, then we get to the laughs. Ragnarok might best be described as Marvel’s first comedy, so far do Waititi and his team push the humour of the film. I’m all about seeing Marvel broaden their canvas, playing with expectations and giving each film a fresh tone,  an approach that’s paid dividends with the likes of James Gunn and it mostly pays off here as this is most definitely a Taiki Waititi film. It’s an approach which should help the longevity of Marvel movies and keep audiences on their toes (and anyone who thinks of Marvel films as being cookie cutter affairs really needs to open their eyes to the palettes of movies as far apart as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and now Thor: Ragnarok).

So far, so Marvel dandy. However, we’re also here for the drama, and occasionally the jokes are laid on so relentlessly in Thor: Ragnarok that they frequently end up severely undercutting the drama.

A major event, foreshadowed all the way through, actually comes to pass near the end of the movie. It should be quite the dramatic moment, as it affects most of the characters and shakes up some of the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, a big deal. There’s a nice, humorous set up to the moment, then straight after it happens any drama arising from the scene is wiped out with a not particularly firing-on-all-cylinders quip. It’s unnecessary, and damaging to our empathy for the characters we’ve been following for six years since Kenneth Branagh’s first Thor movie. That’s quite an investment, and one that takes a hit for the sake of a throwaway gag.

I should reiterate, Waititi and Marvel have produced a top-notch film which will undoubtedly leave you with a smile on your face and the knowledge you’ve spent a good night out at the cinema. But finding that sweet spot between drama and humour takes a careful aim, and this time it feels like Thor’s hammer missed the target by a few inches.

New Thor: Ragnarok Trailer Rocks! Plus Marvel News…

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Thor: Ragnarok, the third solo outing for the Thunder God, looks like it will be taking its cue from James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films by letting director Taika Waititi up both the humour levels and the outer space weirdness. It will also feature Thor and the Hulk going medieval on each other, of course.

 

Meanwhile, some titbits were revealed concering other forthcoming Marvel movies:

From Ant-Man & The Wasp, the big new casting news is that Michelle Pfieffer will play the first iteration of the Wasp (and Michael Douglas’s wife), Janet Van Dyne.

Laurence Fishburne will play Dr. Bill Foster (aka Goliath)

In Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson), the villains will be infamous alien shapechangers, the Skrulls, and the film will be set in the 1990s!

Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson, of course) will appear, and with both eyes!

Thor: Ragnarok goes into battle on October 25th, Ant-Man and the Wasp fly on July 6, 2018, and Captain Marvel saves the day on March 8, 2019.

UPDATE: Marvel have just released this madly beautiful poster for Thor: Ragnarok which looks like it ate ALL the e-numbers…

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Thor: Ragnarok Wins Battle of the Led Zeppelin Trailers!

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In the last week or so we’ve been treated to two trailers for forthcoming big, studio tentpole movies, both of which rely on the trusty wailing, axe slashery (as in guitars, though there are plenty of real axes in the trailers themselves) and drum pounding of the mighty Led Zeppelin!

First out of the gate came Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, accompanied by Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (from the Zepp’s 1969 debut album). It’s all very blokey and muddy and grey with a bunch of Ritchie’s usual tics (speed ramping, etc) and ultimately, for me at least, didn’t feel in any way unique (and it has some very big boots to fill against John Boorman’s mad and operatic, Excalibur). The Arthur story appears to have been given the Game of Thrones/Sherlock Holmes treatment and if you’re up for that, then I guess I know where you’ll be spending your movie cash this summer.

Next up comes Taika Waititi’s first crack at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, well, take a look for yourself:

The Thor films have frequently felt like the poor relations of the Marvel movies, neither quite reaching the targets they were aiming for (though I still find them both very enjoyable… Dark World in particular only really misses its mark due to the now frequent Marvel trope of the underdeveloped villain, with poor Christopher Eccleston doing his best under heavy make up).

A trailer is no proof of the finished product, of course, but judging from what we see here Marvel have let the Flight of the Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows director have his head of steam.

Already we see something lighter, brighter and far more cosmically ‘out there’ than the previous entries in this franchise, and certainly allowing Chris Hemsworth’s comedy chops to shine is a stroke of genius. Plus of course, there’s *that* guest appearance… it’s no trade secret that Thor: Ragnarok borrows from a certain set of well- loved stories from the comic books and the sight of those two characters (I’ll avoid spoilers here in case you’re the only person on the planet unaware of this) facing off against each other is just too delicious. Additionally, everyone knows Jeff Golblum automatically improves any movie he’s in.

Finally, we have the use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, from 1970’s Led Zeppelin III. Now you might want to subtract a point or two after the song’s spellbinding use in the trailer for David Fincher’s slightly less spellbinding The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but really that would feel somewhat churlish in light of its perfect use here.

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

If this official synopsis above for Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t get you vibed (along with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2), well, there’s always King Arthur for you to look forward to. I’ll be gleefully diving into Waititi’s gloriously colourful immigrant song…

Marvel release magical new Doctor Strange trailer.

“We only want to come when we have a LOT of stuff to show you,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios in his introduction at the Hall H presentation of the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con.

After debuting a new studio logo, which will now play before all their movies, with a new musical fanfare by Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Star Trek 2009), he brought to the stage the cast (Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan, who will play Erik Killmonger; Lupita Nyong’o, taking the role of Nakia; and Danai Gurira as Okoye) and director (Ryan Coogler) of Black Panther (and revealing a new logo for that film).

Feige followed this by revealing a whole bunch of art and designs (and new logo) for Thor: Ragnarok (which promises to include elements of classic comic book story, Planet Hulk – imagine the green giant in an outer space gladiatorial arena – as well as being a buddy movie). Directed by Flight of the Conchords’ Taika Waititi, the film looks like it will contain a broader streak of humour than previous Thor movies, and – alongside Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo – features Cate Blanchett as the villain, Hela.

Next up, director Scott Derrickson introduced his cast for the highly anticipated Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong). Cumberbatch took to the stage in a wild, smoke-filled laser light show, and premiered a second, and far stronger trailer for the film.

The presentation is still going on as I post this and I’ll be sure to bring more news as it hits, but Feige wasn’t exaggerating when he said Marvel had a lot to show!

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Marvel logo source: JoBlo Movie Trailers