Taika Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok” Again Shows Marvel is Best with an Artist at the Helm

The Thor franchise may be the most unbalanced in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), home to what is perhaps the worst film in the whole MCU (Thor: The Dark World) as well as one of the stronger and more distinctive origin stories. Counting those two films and the Avengers movies, Thor: Ragnarok would be the fifth appearance of the God of Lightning, at it was entirely possible that the character and the particular comedic tone surrounding him would start to feel a little stale. Fortunately, we have Taika Waititi – a visionary comedic filmmaker perfectly at home playing in the MCU’s ever-expanding sandbox.

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“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” Is the Worst Kind of Sequel – One that Knows it Doesn’t Have to Try

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the result of “getting the band back together” when the band broke up six months ago and everyone still hates each other so they just re-mix a few songs and release a “Greatest Hits” album. Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsmen: The Secret Service was a sleeper hit when it was released in February of 2015. The film struck the perfect tone, balancing irreverence and absurdity with the clichés of the action spy genre, all the while telling a legitimately interesting story. As a critical darling, once the film broke even financially it was all but assured that a sequel would be made. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the result – a film as derivative and unimaginative as its predecessor was refreshing.

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“War for the Planet of the Apes” Earns Another Victory for the Rebooted Franchise

Remember how Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a James Franco-laden disaster with John Lithgow wandering around forgetting everything and apes rampaged over the Golden Gate bridge being attacked by police helicopters? How far we’ve come. This Planet of the Apes reboot may be one of the most artistically successful reboots of a beloved franchise in the history of Hollywood, and it is almost entirely on the strength of the final two films – first with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and now with War for the Planet of the Apes.

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“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Does Whatever a Spider Can to Be Unique and Fun

Though he has only a pair of independent films to his name, director Jon Watts (Clown, Cop Car) sure knows his way around a friendly neighborhood Spider-man.  The product of a team-up between Sony and Marvel Studios, Spider-man: Homecoming places the iconic webslinger in high school.  This choice dictates many aspects of the film, from the story and characters all the way down to the sense of humor and the overarching themes of growing into one’s responsibilities.  At the very least, it certainly establishes Watts’s version of Spider-man as different, which is absolutely crucial given that this is the third iteration of Peter Parker in the last 15 years.

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Music Breathes Beautiful Chaos into “Baby Driver”

Very early in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, as Doc (Kevin Spacey) sketches out the plans to a heist on a chalkboard, he explains to his crew that the driver “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) has tinnitus and chooses to drown out the constant hum by listening to music.  Once he’s done with the obvious exposition, he puts down the chalk and exclaims, “Wow, I drew this entire map while explaining that.  I’d say that’s pretty fucking impressive!”  Thus Wright places his tongue firmly in-cheek, and we immediately understand the tone of the film:  weird, energetic, and not taking itself too seriously.

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“The Mummy” Something Something Stupid “Wrapped” Pun

There’s an off-hand moment early on in The Mummy when Egyptologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) draws attention to the importance of the discovery that she and Nick Mortion (Tom Cruise) have made by referring to the age of the sarcophagus:  5,000 years.  Trouble is, Wallis clearly mouths “three”, not “five”.  Oh well, ADR happens.  Maybe there was a re-write where they realized that 3,000 years wasn’t enough for the Egyptian period they wanted.  So they fixed it.  That’s fine, if a bit distracting.  Later, Tom Cruise calls “the chick” 3,000 years old.  They left that one in.  Maybe Tom Cruise is too busy to do ADR.  Maybe no one caught it.  Maybe no one cares.

Ladies and gentleman, this is The Mummy in a nutshell:  falling over its own presumed intelligence, never paying enough attention to what it is doing for it to matter.

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