Tag Archives: Tom Hiddleston

Thor: Ragnarok

Film Score: 4 out of 5 (Excellent)

Synopsis:  Subversively self-aware and willingly self-deprecating, Thor: Ragnarok is for those who are bored or dismissive of superhero films. A Taika Waititi film throughout, Thor: Ragnarok bristles with a dry New Zealand sarcasm which caused my laughter to fill a dead multiplex on a Tuesday afternoon.

Under the cartel of Marvel, Disney, D.C and Warner Brothers, the superhero genre has become the soap opera of cinema. Throwaway stories whose heroes, villains, and dangers are interchangeable parts to be switched around. Each story is a predictable, comfortable clone of what came before and what will come next in the sequence. Seeing the success of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, these companies have tried to emulate the Nolan brothers’ work. Deprived of any finality, the frame of endless sequels fails to match the empathy or sense of attachment which The Dark Knight trilogy invoked, instead becoming garbled trains of self induced seriousness robbed of any pathos or realism.

Thor: Ragnarok harks back to the despicably underrated Mystery Men starring Ben Stiller, William. H. Macy and one of the best ever attacks on a villain’s limo. For both films, superheroes are just fantasies to be enjoyed as such, beings which would be completely alien to the rest of us if they existed.

Despite still having to clunkily tromp to Marvel’s beat of secret, revelation and post-credit teaser like a chained circus bear, Thor: Ragnarok did not care whether I became invested or attached. Instead, the film presents itself as a good time, a head spinning adventure full of gags, fuelled by the mad vibrancy of Jack Kirby’s comic books. The approach makes Thor: Ragnarok the best Marvel film so far, a colourful trip to be enjoyed for all its jokes, adventures, neon vividness, and thrilling synth soundtrack.

Waititi’s brand of zany humour pervades the film, delving into a meta narrative prodding fun at the seriousness of superhero films today. Much of the humour comes from ‘The Master’ (Jeff Goldblum), ruler of a borderland planet caught between wormholes, and in particular Korg. Voiced by director Taika Waititi himself, Korg’s calm demeanour of a ‘South Auckland Maori bouncer’ clashes with his towering pastel blue rock body and revolutionist tendencies. Poking through the fourth wall, Korg’s naivete leads to comments of both deep insight and awkwardness, garnering him laughs whenever present. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) benefit from changes to their characters. The film plays up their detachment from the real world, giving them a bumbling almost child-like approach to problems when they arise. Thor is a meathead with a heart of gold, with Hemsworth’s deadpan delivery of lines causing a lot of laughs both with and at Thor himself.

Mark Ruffalo excels as ever in his role as the Hulk and Cate Blanchett develops a funny bone as villain Helas. It is always great to see Karl Urban, an actor who remains underrated despite his roles in The Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Supremacy and his lead in Dredd. The real surprise character was Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), she is strong yet goofy like the rest of the cast but also has a moving back story.

Waititi and company are hopefully being thanked by Marvel for reviving a dead segment of their franchise. The last Thor film, Thor: The Dark World is a plane movie as defined by Tom Waits, where the film could only ever find an audience in a trapped container speeding at high altitude. That is how I watched the previous Thor film, while on a creaking Boeing 747 transatlantic flight to North Carolina squished between snoring businessmen and howling babies. The four year wait for Thor: Ragnarok was well used. Not since Anchorman 2 has a film caused me to uncontrollably laugh in the cinema.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

P.S: Tom Waits is also in Mystery Men, another reason to watch the trailer below:

 

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Kong: Skull Island 

Kong: Skull Island  is an unimaginative soft reboot of the King Kong franchise, which squanders its interesting context and becomes a cheap counterfeit of Apocalypse Now.

Movie Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars (Average)

Cast: John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, John C. Reilly and more

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

I have never been a fan of monster films. If I wanted to spend my money watching a fight, I would buy boxing tickets. I was hoping that Kong: Skull Island might be more than a monster brawl, and stray towards a Cloverfield-esque plot, but it didn’t.

Kong: Skull Island  begins with an interesting premise by taking the main arc of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountain of Madness and placing it in the Nixon era. The result is a backdrop of paranoia and Cold War politics where the danger of hidden knowledge, embodied by Skull Island, the land where King Kong dwells, is the doom of the expedition. Kong quickly fails to fulfill any of the potential it establishes, and becomes a generic monster film aimed at families which is clearly the first product in a larger franchise chain. Skull Island’s tropical setting and its ethereal human society, led by downed World War Two pilot, Hank Marlowe, whose name is clear reference to Heart of Darkness, both borrow from Apocalypse Now.

These references soon proliferate, devolving the film from a quasi-homage to an outright counterfeiting of Apocalypse Now, with the helicopter scene shown in the Kong: Skull Island trailer mimicking the ride of the Valkyries scene, replete with a speaker system attached to one helicopters blaring out Wagner while bombs fall on the jungle below. The plot itself is an obvious set of events leading up to a big finale which is made glaringly obvious by the main characters, who are two dimensional signposts for the plot. The worst of all the cast has to be Colonel Packard, portrayed by the venerable Samuel. L. Jackson. Even Jackson cannot save a character whose existence is to warm up Kong for the big fight, despite Packard’s repeated quips that he will not lose another war, just like Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. James Conrad, the steeled former S.A.S. tracker who joins the expedition for money,  is Tom Hiddleston’s best Bear Grylls impression, which is best summarised as Grylls without the thrills.

Kong’s only saving grace is Hank Marlowe. John. C. Reilly channels a part of Steve Brule, creating a character who is both comical but oddly human. Unhinged by his experiences on the Island, he is wise to the dangers all around them, but sweetly naive about the outside world he longs to see again after thirty years. Upon the film’s end, I do hope they make a prequel revolving around Marlowe’s life on the Island which could blend Castaway with Jurassic Park.

To Jordan Vogt- Roberts’ credit, certain scenes, particularly the earlier battle scenes and initial encounters with the island and its ecology, were very well done. Other sections felt hackneyed and lazily done, with hardened photo-journalist Mason Weaver occasionally becoming a snap-happy tourist, despite the terrors they have endured.

Kong: Skull Island will soon become a steadfast favourite for families on Sunday afternoon T.V. and nothing else.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below: