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First Look: THOR: RAGNAROK Review

First Look: THOR: RAGNAROK Review

Disney. Marvel. Superheroes. Every time I feel like I’m done with the genre, Marvel seems to release a film that draws me back in… well, a little bit. This year that film was not THOR: RAGNAROK, it was SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING. But without Spidey’s refreshing re-introduction I wouldn’t have even thought about watching the third THOR installment.

Before the SPIDERMAN reboot, my interest in the MCU had fallen so low.

I have no strong feelings, one way or the other about these films. I didn’t care for CIVIL WAR, which I still haven’t watched, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve missed anything from it. But there is no doubt that Marvel still produce some solid and entertaining films, even if they have no massive impact on my life.

THOR was a very nice mix of superhero, steampunk sci-fi, and comedy – a real good dose of comedy. I was impressed with how the film and director, Taika Waititi, balanced the odd blend of tone and genre. The comedy certainly had the New Zealand subtle, monotone style which Waititi employed brilliantly in one of his previous films, EAGLE VS SHARK. The comedy came naturally within the story and characters and hit all the right beats. Hell, this film might be the confirmation that Chris Hemsworth is more of a comic actor.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD… The story had a solid premise – with the death of Odin, Thor’s evil and power-hungry sister (Cate Blanchett, who is her usual brilliant self) was released from an other-worldly prison, and she was set on taking her throne back. The film takes Thor to unique and interesting places, but as with most superhero films, you don’t ever feel he’s in any danger.

THOR: RAGNAROK represents my biggest issue with the Marvel films, though. Yes, it’s solid, it’s funny, it has decent action, it keeps your attention but… it doesn’t do anything else. This is the type of movie you put on TV if there’s nothing else to watch – you don’t hate that you’re gonna watch it, but there’s better things out there. For me, that is every single Marvel film. There is no film in the entire roster, from IRON MAN to THOR: RAGNAROK where I would go “Oh man, I gotta watch this again!”

These Marvel films just don’t do anything spectacular – not really. They aim to grab and maintain the attention of most of its main demographic, and hey, they do that super well, but at some point, we (and by we, I mean me) need something a bit more different. There was some variety here, in HOMECOMING and even in ANT-MAN, but each of these felt like there were two hands on the wheel – the director and Marvel. As much as I could see Waititi’s style on THOR, or Edgar Wright’s on ANT-MAN, I could feel Marvel’s influence just as much.

THOR: RAGNAROK was a fine film, I enjoyed it, but that’s it. Each Marvel film is a solid 7 out of 10 now – they’ve got their formula and it works. But there’s no WOW factor. Sooner or later there needs to be some change, some variation in these films and the genre as a whole… otherwise, I might think about watching some DC films… OK maybe not, but you get my point!

What did you think of THOR: RAGNAROK? Was it another home run for Marvel, or just another superhero flick? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

Time for Superhero Films to Stand Alone?

Time for Superhero Films to Stand Alone?

After the less-than-super Summer Box-Office, the power and attraction of superhero films may be declining. Some are suggesting that the expanded universes are on their way out and that stand-alone superhero films are back in (see this article). Jamie White discusses this potential new trend for superheroes…

This summer has shown some signs of this. LOGAN is pretty much a stand-alone in its own right and has little connection to the rest of the X-MEN universe really. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2 hasn’t shown much of a connection to the wider MCU (yet) either – and has a strong enough team not to need one.

Even looking at WONDER WOMAN, this was set way way out of the way from the already established DC universe. Maybe this was to distance it from the terrible DC films released recently to give DC the option to do stand-alone only films in the future.

Can standalone superhero films re-fill Hollywood’s empty summer theatres?

There have even been strong rumors that DC is considering a Joker origins story starring Leo DiCaprio and produced by Martin Scorsese – which I am not cool with. But, this does kinda indicate that Warners and Disney could be tempted into stand-alone films with no connection to their current universes.

Now, this does not mean they will stop milking their expanded universes, but this could present an opportunity to writers…

There could be the chance that more studios will be persuaded into producing superhero films that have no existing relation to Marvel or DC. We’ve all seen the praise for LOGAN for breaking the superhero mold, and there could be a chance that more of these types of films will be produced.

Let’s quickly look at the best stand-alone superhero film, or should we say films, arguably ever… THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy. This isn’t even thought of as a standalone trilogy, but there’s no connection to the expanded DC universe, and it would be almost criticizing the films to call them superhero films – they’re anything but really.

This trilogy takes Batman and the superhero genre to the most realistic and thematically mature place it’s ever been, and its success, both commercially and critically, speaks for itself. It’s realistic, it’s tragic, it’s pessimistic and noir-esque – it’s an all-round excellent subversion of the genre while still paying homage to it. With the mention of films that are sorta stand-alone (GUARDIANS, LOGAN, WONDER WOMAN) we forget that the stand-alone hero used to be the norm, and that pulling together all those worlds adds so many separate suspensions of belief that any failings of the movie are amplified. And let’s face it, two out three of those films above are in the top 10 best superhero films ever. It’s a little odd then how Hollywood is only just catching on to this again, especially with franchises like Bond and Indiana Jones not needing expanding universes to carry them.

So, THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy can be seen as the ultimate example of the promise of stand-alone superhero films, and if Hollywood can exploit this angle properly… it could be amazing.

We’ll likely just end up seeing the odd Joker origin film (sigh) but audiences are hungry for variation in their supers. Hell, who wouldn’t want to see more imaginative and original superhero stories?!


© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.