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…hammer away

At this point it should come as no surprise that the Marvel Universe has pulled together another great story, yet “Thor: Ragnarok” still seems to be blowing everyone’s minds. Not that I blame them. It is incredibly well told and continues to do a great job of interweaving the ever-growing list of franchises.

Of course, it’s been a good long while since we had a standalone “Thor” movie, which may be hard to believe, mostly because we had “The Avengers,” to get us through, not to mention the constant parade of the (excellent…mostly) Marvel movies in the meantime (eight total…but who’s counting?). Read the rest of this entry

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…Dismantle

It’s hard to go into any film that is the fifth in its series without at least a small amount of skepticism. Add in a so-so third installment, and why-did-they-make-this fourth film, and it’s fair to say that I went into “Transformers: The Last Knight,” with my fair share of expectations.

As the film opens with King Arthur you may find yourself wondering if you’ve wandered into the wrong theater or been sucked into some circle of hell where your forced to relive this summer’s failed blockbusters. Not to worry, this King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) is fighting the Saxons with the help of his fabled knights, who also happen to be Transformers. We learn that Merlin (Stanley Tucci) has forged an alliance with the Transformers, and been entrusted with a powerful alien staff. Read the rest of this entry

…nail it

The wonderful brilliance of “Thor”  was (and is) that it was able to take the extreme leap from a fantastic, futuristic world of the gods to the very real-world middle of Roswell, New Mexico with brilliant wit and charm. It has all of the action and super you expect from a comic book story with the surprise, dramatic flare, and wordplay of a Shakespearean drama. And given that  the endeavor was helmed by Sir Kenneth Branagh that was of little surprise to anyone.

Its sequel “Thor: The Dark World”  takes the same plunge (this time with Alan Taylor in the director’s chair) and continues what “Thor” started beautifully.

“Thor: The Dark World” picks up where “The Avengers” left off. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned to Asgard with his villainous adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in tow. Loki is sentenced to imprisonment (a light sentence given his crimes against humanity) and Thor settle back into the monotony of the day-to-day life of a demigod, pining for the forbidden (by his father Odin [Anthony Hopkins]) Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Read the rest of this entry

…hammer it home

Well, we made it the Avengers are assembled and many, many, many of you have already seen it.  If you sense incredible jealousy in my written word, well done.

In a tragic twist of the cruelest and most melodramatic kind, 2WC has an exciting and busy weekend that does not allow much time for “The Avengers” (blasphemy, I know my hands are burning just typing the words).  So, alas you’ll have to wait until next Friday, when we’ll have what I’m sure will be a brilliant review from Zer.

In the meantime don’t be too downhearted, we still have one final installment in our countdown to “The Avengers.”  Zer reviewed it last summer, now here are my two cents on everyone’s favorite weatherman, that lovable god of thunder, “Thor.”

The premise of “Thor,” and let’s face it most superhero stories, is a little out there, in the quite literal sense.  Thor is after all a god (or demigod, I’m a little unclear on this point) from Asgard, a realm of the universe far removed from our own.  Add a magic hammer named Mjolnir, and surprisingly you still end up with a perfectly relatable story.

It’s astounding that a story that spans the time and space between Asgard and New Mexico can work, but it does.  Whether it’s the story, the direction (well done Mr. Branagh), the acting, or more likely a team effort from all of the above, “Thor” manages to meld magic, science, and action to tell a truly touching story.

But “Thor” doesn’t just give us our final primary Avenger, here in the realm of Asgard we also find our villain, Loki.  In the great spectrum of villains (of which I’ve written before), ranging from the intelligent, motivated and you can’t help but respect him Magneto of X-Men all the way down to the just evil for evil’s sake Dr. Facilier from “The Princess and the Frog” (kids are smarter than that Disney), Loki ranks pretty high.

Why? It’s simple really.  Motivation.  All I ask of my villains is that by the time the credits run you provide me with enough information to answer one simple question, “Why are you evil?”

Why is Loki evil?  He’s adopted…and a natural blue.  Is destroying an entire planet really an appropriate response? Probably not, but at least we know why he’s gone off the deep end. As a semi-intelligent film goer, I appreciate it.

So thank you “Thor” for not only successfully bridging the gap between fantasy and reality (with a rainbow road nonetheless) but for having faith in your audience to keep up.  We thank you.

And to anyone shocked by the announcement of a sequel, of course there’s a “Thor 2” there has to be,Natalie Portman’s not in “The Avengers.”

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***READ THIS***…except OMC, you already did…every one else, you’ll be glad you did: “Superheroes Movies Like ‘Avengers Assemble’ Should Not be Scorned”: The Guardian

…Bring the Hammer Down

“Thor” has a lot riding on its extremely muscular shoulders.

Not only is it kicking off a very crowded summer blockbuster season, but it also sets the tone for a summer of Marvel movies (“Captain America: The First Avenger” and “X-Men: First Class“).

As one of the final and lesser known superhero puzzle pieces for next summer’s “The Avengers“, “Thor” carries more than its fair share of the weight.

After his arrogance and hot-headedness relaunch an ancient war between the realm of Asgard and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stripped of his strength and banished to Earth by his father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins).

Once on Earth, Thor lands in the lap of scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård).  Though reluctant at first, the trio helps Thor find his way and, eventually, regain his strength.

 The strength of this film lies in its light heartedness.  It does not take itself too seriously, but it still tells a compelling story.

When dealing with ancient Norse gods, the modern world and frost giants it’s easy to end up with another campy, popcorn movie.

Somehow, Kenneth Branagh has kept “Thor” from teetering over the edge.  Branagh manages to blend “Thor” into the other Marvel Universe films while still leaving his own touch on the film.

The film’s more prominent themes, father son issues and sibling rivalry, allow Branagh’s well-known Shakespearian style to shine through.  However, it’s in the films quieter moments between Thor and Jane that his style is really appreciated.  This very sweet, little love story is a nice break from all the screaming and fighting.

Of course, a lot of the credit also goes to the strong cast.

As Thor, Chris Hemsworth is the totally buff, hammer-wielding superhero that comic fans expect, but his take on the character leaves hope that he’ll have a career outside of the comic book world.  Not to say that we wouldn’t love to see a “Thor” sequel.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster once again proves that it’s nearly impossible not to like her.  Her part is surprisingly small, but  her adorableness makes Thor being completely smitten, believable.

Of course, every superhero needs an archenemy, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor’s brother turned adopted brother turned archenemy, avoids the pitfalls of so many comic book villains.  At times it seems that Hiddleston forgot he was playing the bad guy.  He’s even kind of likable.  It’s refreshing to see an antagonist whose motivation isn’t “I am evil.”

This freshness is found throughout the film.  “Thor” is nothing new, but it’s done well and told from a new perspective.

All in all, “Thor” is a well told story with some beautiful fight scenes, well-spoken dialogue and a great start to an action packed summer movie schedule.

There’s really only one more thing to say: Captain America, your move.

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Movie Goer Tip: Don’t forget to stick around until after the credits.  Marvel movies love their bonus scenes.

…just for fun: