“We Have To Stop Her Here And Now, And Prevent Ragnarok, The End Of Everything…”
With arguably two of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, the return of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor marks the seventeenth entry in the gargantuan comic franchise, and whilst the character is awash with charisma and undeniable charm, it seems Hemsworth’s God of thunder has been the recipient of being better served when mixed in with the collective Marvel characters rather than being free to fight battles on his lonesome. Inevitably therefore, Ragnarok, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, manages to follow in the footsteps of Captain America: Civil War by for all intents and purposes being an Avengers movie, just without the titular phrasing slapped across it, with Hemsworth’s character this time being surrounded by the likes of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the return of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in his battle against Cate Blanchett’s evil goddess of death, Hela. With Waititi’s previous works including the likes of What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s critically acclaimed independent groundbreaker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the Kiwi’s ascent into Hollywood stardom continues the MCU’s usage of interesting, promising directors after Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Jon Watt’s take on Spiderman: Homecoming earlier this year, and what Waititi has managed to achieve with Ragnarok is undeniably create the best of the Thor standalone releases so far, but with a aching sense of inconsequentiality running through it, the latest MCU release is supercharged in style but lacking wholly in any sense of prolonging substance.
Faced with the passing of father Odin, Thor heeds the warning of the coming of Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death, whose desire to overthrow the Asgardian kingdom could potentially lead to the coming of Ragnarok, a prophetic armageddon which eradicates the existence of Asgard from the face of the universe, but with the God of Thunder’s preoccupied exile onto the planet of Sakaar, Thor must first overcome the greatest gladiator battle of all time before returning to save his home planet from certain destruction. With the chugging riffs of Led Zeppelin and a colourful, sparkly tone which made Guardians of the Galaxy so joyous throughout, Ragnarok is a movie which soaks up the fundamental ridiculousness of Thor’s character and simply hands the audience an undeniably entertaining comic adventure on a multi-coloured plate, and whilst the rib tickling comedy and likeable characters, both old and new, keep the audience chuckling and the lengthy running time manageable, the latest Marvel adventure does suffer at times from having almost too much to say without any of it having any real consequence. With a emo-inflicted villain who is too camp to take seriously, strangely jarring cameos from particular Hollywood stars and a limited screen presence from the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Idris Elba, Ragnarok suffers where the likes of Civil War prevailed, with the latter working with each pieces of the chess board onto something of consequence, and considering the future which lies ahead for the fate of the MCU, Ragnarok is indeed a highly enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe but ultimately doesn’t seem exactly necessary.
Overall Score: 7/10
“We’ve Got No Ship, No Crew, How’re We Going To Get Out Of This One…?
Taking the helm as only producer this time around, it is resoundingly safe to say that J. J. Abrams is the all-round geek saviour of the 20th century where long before breaking box office records and smashing countless other cinematic achievements with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mr. Abrams lit the fuse once again in regards to the nations’ love of Star Trek, with a brand new team of space explorers being offset with a brand new timeline, expanding the stories of the crew upon the Enterprise to new and exciting limits. Now, six years since the first Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: Beyond continues the blockbuster success of the franchise, where although it could be regarded as the weakest of the three so far, Justin Lin’s directorial space debut is solid and sometimes spectacular summer popcorn fun featuring everything you would expect from an array of actors each used to their own talents on and off-screen in the six years from which they first began their voyage into deep space, albeit if the series itself is beginning to feel ever so slightly formulaic.
Beginning with a portrayal of a day in the life of our beloved Enterprise crew, Star Trek: Beyond begins rather slowly and then ascends into a two-hour survival mission against the ominous yet dedicated figure of main antagonist Krall, played expertly by everyone’s favourite Bond hopeful, Idris Elba, and his pack of cronies, hell bent on bringing destruction to those who wronged them in the past. If anything, Krall’s role in Beyond is all too small, where although Elba’s performance is enough to make him an effective bad guy, the script just doesn’t allow his character to become complex enough to make him memorable. Of course, the one-two of Pine and Quinto brings the bromance factor to the table, sidelined by the cling-on (no pun intended) of third wheeler Bones, whilst the bad-ass duo of Zoe Saldana and Sofia Boutella gives the female characters an extensive role to bring to life. Of course, overshadowing the release of Beyond is the deeply saddening loss of Anton Yelchin, an actor lost too young and an actor whose roles in films such as Green Room and the Star Trek franchise means he will not swiftly be forgotten. Beyond is Star Trek to the T. A classic adventure with some great thrills, if not entirely up to the mark of its’ predecessors within the 21st century revival trilogy.
Overall Score: 7/10
So, yesterday, we went to the release of the brand new Riddick movie. I probably should have watched the previous movies as I can’t really remember them that much and I feel that a little more context about the world would help me understand a little more. Otherwise you can drop in without to much worry. Speaking of dropping in, we start of the movie finding Riddick (Vin Diesel) abandoned on a desolate planet and that is really it. We watch him try and survive for the majority of time until until he needs to escape from impending doom of the planets ecological cycle. Eventually some bounty hunters come and try to catch Riddick, the inevitable fighting ensues and we see the obvious outcome. It’s simple, right? Too simple for my tastes.
The question is, where to start? The movie didn’t really do much for me and didn’t infuse me with excitement, it was linear and didn’t delve into the complexity of living on a hostile planet, on your own. As it is a franchise, it could have been beneficial to have some sort of character development that showed a chink in Riddick’s Armour. You do also sit there predicting the next move, it even hands you these moments on a plate if you were that stupid not to fathom that it would happen.
Visually, the movie is pretty bad. I’m not sure whether it is trying to keep the bad CGI as a trend from the previous ones or that they just turned out poorly. Most of the CGI was vivid, it forced its presence on the screen and screams green screen in many scenes. The set pieces were lacking and looked fake alongside the terrible background CGI which showed the tiny space that they worked with during the filming process. Some of the effects were good, but these were more practical than vast areas and monsters. Firstly, you have the dog that he trains from a pup and ends up becoming his pet. This animal was well done and at points looked real to the touch but upon his predictable death, it loses it. A scene depicts a man being beheaded – de-brained if you will – and they draw out the shot enough for you to watch the top half of his head slide off into a box and see the innards of his skull. A few other bits are much like this and can cause the whole cinema to yelp in disbelief at how grim certain parts are.
Finally, one of the most imperative parts of this movie is the acting. There is a couple of noticeable faces, obviously Vin Diesel, but you also have WWE’s Batista and Jordi Molla. These were the faces that I recognized, even if I did have to Google Batista’s character when I got home. Beginning with the main man, you do wonder why he keeps doing this. Then I look back at the other things he has done and realize that he isn’t a great actor in general and it’s reflected in this piece. He doesn’t take me as the big, violent ruler that he is trying to portray. Tom Hardy’s abilities and portrayal of Bane would have been a far more beneficial for such a character. As a person, Vin is a badass and grateful for his fame, but when he talks about his acting, I find it a little unbearable. As I don’t watch WWE, Batista is unknown to me, but for the big hulk of a bloke, he played his merc role quite well and fitted his character perfectly. Jordi Molla is an actor I enjoy. He can play the snarling, wicked man with ease. He looks the part of the sly deceitful man and plays the bounty hunter leader brilliantly. A funny man – a little simple at times but brutal in the end. The rest of the players were alright, a little weird at points and the women are comfortable going nude in a 15+ movie.
Overall, I wasn’t best pleased with Riddick. I was expecting a lot more violence and action from him, he isn’t even armed with his notorious weapons and the story just added up against it. Moments came when I found myself going “Oh, really? Why?” on several occasions and the humour didn’t really help those situations. It was a cluster of bad visuals, bad script, terrible plot and lack lustre action. I can’t see myself getting this on DVD even if it’s 0.01p on Amazon next year. This time around, I find myself agreeing with the general consensus on Rotten Tomato, so my overall score is 5/10.