Thor: Ragnarok – Day 6 NaBloPoMo 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Directed by Taika Waititi

I went to see this last week, trying not to have too many preconceptions, but I’d seen the trailers and posters (anyone with an internet connection and a social media account couldn’t have missed them could they?) and I started reading Marvel Comics as a small child, the much lauded “Silver Age”, so I had some context to draw from and the poster I’ve included above particularly reminded me of the Jack Kirby comic books I read as a kid.

Despite their problems with gender representation, I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and love the Thor franchise – not for the titular character, but for Tom Hiddleston’s version of Loki. Even in the comics way back in the day, Thor was something of a vanilla hero – but Loki was far more entertaining and often provided the comedy that’s been lacking on screen. I’m also a big fan of Taika Waititi’s work as an actor, writer and director, What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is one of my favourite indie comedies. So it was difficult to go into this without some expectations.

I really needn’t have worried. I thought the first Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) was a fabulous and very well timed break in the seriousness of the MCU – but Thor: Ragnarok is a veritable breath of fresh air. I still have some issues but they are minor compared with many of the previous films in this franchise. (I’m happy to discuss in the comments if anyone’s interested).

This time the usual cast from Asgard are joined by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Cate Blanchett as Hela, the Goddess of Death, Karl Urban as Skurge, Tessa Thompson as Val/Valkyrie, Taika Waititi as Korg and Jeff Goldblum as the wonderfully campy Grandmaster. I really loved Blanchett’s villainous Hela, and Tessa Thompson was great as the alcoholic Valkyrie who gets to redeem herself. The sets for the Grandmaster’s planet Sakaar are just wonderful, evoking Kirby’s artwork and the soundtrack (featuring Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song”) works really well.

A friend described this film as a romp, and I think that’s a great word. This movie is irreverent, loud, brash and very, very funny.

Go see it and let me know what you think 🙂


Logan (2017) Directed by James Mangold.

I’ve always been a fan of big, loud comic book movies. I love a couple of hours of mindless escapism, particularly if there’s well-constructed set pieces, computer graphics that don’t detract from the action, strong characters and a good story.

Suffice it to say, most of the X-Men franchise left a lot to be desired in many of these areas for me (despite my enduring love for Sir Patrick Stewart), and I always thought that they pandered to a far younger audience than the source material warranted. In particular, I always wanted to see a Wolverine movie that wasn’t sugar coated.

Finally, James Mangold gave us Logan and I couldn’t be happier.

Right from the outset, Mangold informs us that this is not a popcorn flick for the kiddies. The story is dark, there is plenty of bad language and a lot of quite explicit violence, which I think are all necessary in underpinning the humanity of this film. Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart reprise their roles as Logan and Professor Charles Xavier for one last time.

Logan is now visibly aged, his body is no longer immediately regenerating – even his eyesight is failing him, and seeing Wolverine wearing reading glasses was rather lovely. Let’s face it, this is Hugh Jackman, so he is still good looking, but no longer in a youthful, sensual way, which anecdotally some female friends found difficult to deal with. (Female spectatorship and objectification are very much alive and well!) Xavier is gaunt and elderly, suffering from a degenerative brain disorder and requires regular medication to stop him from killing everyone in his immediate vicinity. Logan is keeping him isolated near the Mexican border, and in the care of another mutant, Caliban (played very well by an almost unrecognisable Stephen Merchant).

Into this mix comes Laura, a young mutant who is on the run from a corporation. She is played with alarming ferocity and skill by Dafne Keen who manages to express so much with very little dialogue – it’s a stunning and incredibly mature performance. On the other side of the equation is Dr Rice (played with all the expected urbane menace by Richard E. Grant), who is performing ghoulish experiments on mutants, including young Laura.

The results are a violent, foul-mouthed, yet strangely beautiful and thoughtful take on universal questions about difference, friendship, family and death. This is the X-Men movie I’ve always wanted – a legitimately adult, well-made action movie, set firmly within a comic book universe that also tackles big themes with care and consideration.

I saw it in the cinema when it was first released in Australia earlier this year, and I confess I cried at a couple of key points, especially the end. I watched it again last night and I’m not ashamed to say it moved me to tears again.

Absolutely one of my favourite films of this year.