Thor Ragnarok: Chris Hemsworth parodies Chris Hemsworth playing Thor

There will come a time many years from now when film historians will analyze Marvel Studios, and some of them will rightfully conclude that Thor: Ragnarok won over critics and fans despite its forgettable script. Producers gave the world a $180 million stick of cinematic bubble gum and the world cheered.

Once upon a time, superhero fans watched Thor movies in which actor Chris Hemsworth and his supporting cast attempted to channel literary classics like Beowulf. Director Kenneth Branagh infused Thor (2011) with tinctures of Shakespearean tragedy, while Alan Taylor churned out similar work on Thor: The Dark World (2013).

All that is over with the arrival of director Taika Waititi, who has the first “family-friendly” Marvel Studios/Disney movie that drops an “orgy” reference into a scene involving the cosmic equivalent of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express.”

Thor: Ragnarok is essentially two movies mashed into one. Half of Ragnarok involves a ancient prophecy in which Asgard is captured by Thor’s sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and ultimately destroyed by a giant demon named Sutur; the other half deals with an exiled Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) fighting as a gladiator on a planet ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The god of thunder and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) end up stranded on the planet as well, but they soon find a way to escape through “The Devil’s Anus.”

The two brothers are helped along the way by a disillusioned Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the whole thing is tied together by a series of jokes that often follow (i.e., undermine) dramatic scenes.

In short, Ragnarok is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously — even as it sometimes asks the audience to do so. It is a movie that is seemingly so terrified of being parodied at the MTV Movie Awards that it decided to deny them the opportunity. Chris Hemsworth, at times, seems as though he’s parodying himself playing Thor. Potential moviegoers simply need to imagine a Batman movie in which the actor was required to alternately channel Joel Schumacher’s notorious Batman Forever (1985) and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).

“Even when you had two eyes, you still only see half the picture,” Odin (Anthony Hopkins) says to Thor during a near-death experience. “Are you ‘Thor, the god of hammers’? Hmmm? That hammer is to help you control your power — focus it. It’s not your source of strength. […] Asgard is not a place, never was. This could be Asgard. Asgard is where our people stand. Even now — right now — those people need your help.”

“I’m not as strong as you,” Thor replies.

“No. You’re stronger,” says Odin.

The exchange is meant to be poignant, but it comes after nearly two hours of improv and slapstick comedy — it’s hard to appreciate Hopkins’ turn as Odin when the audience is still wondering how a thinly veiled masturbation joke involving Thor’s hammer made it into the finished product.

The question that fans of the genre need to ask themselves after the joke-a-minute Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 and now Ragnarok is this: If a superhero movie struggles not to inject a gag of some kind into every heartfelt moment, then what does it say about the audience? What does it say about our culture?

If you’re looking for a Marvel movie that most closely resembles Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), then run out an see Ragnarok before it leaves theaters. If you expect your god of thunder to possess a Game of Thrones gravitas, then stay far away.

Editor’s note: Check out my “Thor: Ragnaflop?” live-stream if you want to hear almost two hours of Thor-talk.

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‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ saves Sony’s bacon (just don’t you dare mention the writer’s ‘slavery’ sucker punch)

There are times when I wish that I never made the leap to YouTube and instead stayed on my little old blog churning out content for people who understand things like nuance. My reaction to Spider-Man: Homecoming highlighted that fact quite nicely yesterday.

Your friendly neighborhood blogger said that he loves the movie and wants people to see it, but that a weird scene involving “MJ’s” comment on slavery was a social justice-y sucker punch out of nowhere. I then used that scene to discuss real-world “MJ’s” populating college campuses and influential circles of activists across the nation.

Translation:Doug is an SJW! Doug is triggered! Doug can’t enjoy anything that includes a whiff of SJW politics.”

Sigh.

Below are my videos on the old web-head’s return to the big screen. As always, if you enjoy the content then be sure to subscribe. And if you too think I’ve gone full “SJW” then go for it in the comments section. Let me know! I find this conclusion fascinating.

Here is the full review with one major spoiler for those who haven’t seen the film.

Amy Pascal officially Kevin Feige’s Mephisto with MCU blindside, proves this blog’s 2015 warning prescient

Kevin Feige
The world is only days away from Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the Spidey buzz got real over the weekend when Sony Pictures producer Amy Pascal blindsided Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige during a promotional event. She directly contradicted previous statements by Mr. Feige that Sony’s “Venom” and “Silver & Black” (Silver Sable and Black Cat) would not be connected to the MCU.

Ms. Pascal said:

“Well, those movies will all take place in the world that we’re now creating for Peter Parker. They’ll all be adjuncts to it. They may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world. They will all be connected to each other as well. […] There’s a chance [Tom Holland will appear]. There’s always a chance.”

The look of utter disbelief on Mr. Feige’s face — and one monstrous swallow — are proof that he severely underestimated how devious the woman can be.

It also proves that Mr. Feige would be wise to take some advice from yours truly, perhaps the only one who warned that his “deal” with her to get access to Spider-Man was his very own “One More Day” moment.

Yes, that’s right, Amy Pascal is Kevin Feige’s personal Mephisto.

Mephisto Amy Pascal

I wrote on Feb. 10, 2015:

“Question: Will Amy Pascal become Kevin Feige’s Mephisto? […] It will be a sad day if Kevin Feige’s name is attached to future Spider-Man failures because of Amy Pascal’s intransigence. While Spider-Man fans should be thrilled that the character will show up in future Marvel Studios movies, they should seriously ask themselves if Marvel made a deal with the devil when total victory was within reach.”

Marvel Studios had Sony on the ropes. Through Sony’s own moronic moves under Pascal’s leadership, the studio ran its reputation into the ground. And while it’s great that the world will now see Spider-Man in the MCU for Avengers: Infinity War, there is no doubt that individuals like Ms. Pascal are petty, vindictive, and untrustworthy.

The Sony hacks by North Korea demonstrated it, and the point was hammered home further by the viral video.

The good news is that Kevin Feige is about 10,000 times more intelligent than anyone at Sony. He will likely come out on top in the end. The bad news is that Sony’s suits know this and will subject Marvel Studios to all sorts of public and private pain for the ignominy of taking orders from their betters.

Cross your fingers that Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a train wreck, but if it is then just watch this video with Ms. Pascal to remind yourself who is to blame.

Wonder Woman: Patty Jenkins nails the directing, Gal Gadot nails the role

Last weekend I made the mistake of not reserving my movie tickets for Wonder Woman ahead of time and ended up having to decide whether I wanted to see a later showing or go home. I opted for an extra hour’s wait — and it was worth it.

Here is what I wrote **pseudo-spoilers ahead** for Conservative Book Club:

Director Patty Jenkins can make a strong case that she had one of the most pressure-packed Hollywood tasks in recent memory — making Wonder Woman a blockbuster for Warner Bros. She needed to please fans of a character with over 70 years of history while overcoming doubts about the direction of the DC Extended Universe and Gal Gadot’s acting.

Mission accomplished.

Wonder Woman, much like Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011, was the kind of job where studio executives pull one off to the side and say, “Good luck, but don’t you dare screw this up.” Ms. Jenkins, like her creative peer, responded by churning out an upbeat film of solid craftsmanship across the board. Gadot’s Princess Diana just so happened to make her debut during World War I instead of World War II (both ideal backdrops for films pitting good against evil).

As is the case with most quality superhero origins, Wonder Woman takes its time establishing the character’s backstory before fists start flying and guns go blazing. This fish-out-of-water tale required the women of Themyscira to meet military men like Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and Ms. Jenkins wisely dictated slower pacing. The DC Universe is one where Greek mythology meets Judeo-Christian beliefs, but writer Allan Heinberg (story byJason Fuchs and Zack Snyder) made it work.

The plot is simple: The first World War literally breaks through a protective bubble put in place by Zeus to hide the Amazons from the god of war, Ares. Diana saves Captain Trevor when his plane crashes into the ocean, which serves as the impetus for her to leave utopia and save mankind. She believes that locating and defeating Ares on the field of battle will end all war. Steve humorously goes along for the ride as a means of getting home, although a romance between the two heroes eventually grows.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Wonder Woman — besides a memorable “No Man’s Land” scene and the iconic “lasso of truth” — is the way Diana’s improved understanding of love and free will allow her to fully realize her potential. The god of war eventually comes across as a Satan stand-in, and Wonder Woman adopts, for all intents and purposes, a Catholic definition of love (i.e., willing the good of the other as other).

Check out the rest of the review here.

 

Alien Covenant: Ridley Scott gives moviegoers sci-fi Rorschach test

Alien trailer

Question: How much do you want to bet that somewhere in Hollywood there is a producer who is thinking up schemes to make Wonder Woman vs. Alien happen?

The past weekend was rightly dominated Gal Gadot’s solid handing of Diana Prince, but if you’re like me and had to deal with sold-out shows, then you faced the “Do-I-stay-for-the-later-viewing-or-go-home?” predicament.  There was  a third option — seeing Alien Covenant — but I shirked my writerly duties and got you this review late. I hope you can forgive your humble (I try) blogger and consider the analysis below as similar situations unfold in the weeks ahead.

Here is an except from my latest review for Conservative Book Club, with a link to the full text once I’ve pushed fair-use content to its outer limits:

Director Ridley Scott’s latest foray into the universe he made famous roughly 40 years ago is a bit like a Rorschach test. Is it primarily a Prometheus (2012) sequel or an Alien (1979) prequel? Is it a highbrow science-fiction flick about the origins and meaning of life, or is it just another opportunity to show seemingly smart people make stupid decisions that lead to gruesome deaths? Alien: Covenant, like a quickly scurrying “xenomorph,” is hard to nail down.

One of the big challenges with bringing a film like Alien: Covenant to the big screen is making it fresh. Die-hard fans of any beloved franchise (e.g., Star Wars) understand that on some level they’re paying for the same roller coaster ride, but that doesn’t absolve creators from supplying a few new twists and turns. Luckily for Alien fans they have a 79-year-old Scott, whose lifetime of experience brings forth a gorgeous film that demands respect despite its flaws.

Alien: Covenant’s plot revolves around a crew of would-be planetary colonists who are wakened from hypersleep due to an emergency. Their captain dies, and a pensive man of faith named Oram (Billy Crudup) takes his place. Newly widowed Daniels (Katherine Waterston), an android named Walter (David Fassbender), and a small band of explorers decide to investigate a radio signal from a nearby planet instead of reentering hypersleep and risking another calamity. The chaos that follows serves as the bridge between Prometheus and Alien.

As expected, Oram and much of his crew soon find themselves overwhelmed by a hostile planet filled with xenomorph-producing spores that burrow inside ears and noses. The team is saved by David (Fassbender), the older — but more problematically human — model of Walter from Prometheus. He hopes to hitch a ride on their orbiting spaceship once an electrical storm subsides, but for reasons he has no intention of disclosing to his innocent human visitors.

Without spoiling the movie, the key to understanding David’s motivations lie in Alien: Covenant’s prologue, in which he speaks with his inventor.

“If you created me, who created you?” asks David.

His “father” (Guy Pearce) calls it the “question of the ages.”

“Allow me then a moment to consider — you seek your creator; I am looking at mine,” replies David. “I will serve you, yet you are human. You will die, I will not.”

A further window into David’s digital mind comes later in the movie during a conversation with “brother” Walter. He references fallen angel Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.”

Check out the full review over at CBC here.

Alien trailer Walter

Kathy Griffin goes full Jihadi John with Trump beheading ‘art,’ apologizes after CNN gig put at risk

Kathy Griffin CNN Trump

It takes quite a bit of insanity to make your friendly neighborhood blogger swing into explicitly political material these days, but when Hollywood comedians go full “Jihadi John” it seems a though it’s time for the blog posts of old to return.

Jihad John

For those who somehow managed to avoid the news, Anderson Cooper’s regular New Year’s Eve broadcast buddy, Kathy Griffin, released images from a photo shoot today that she promised would “make noise.” TMZ was given exclusive access to the “art” project, which included Ms. Griffin holding up a fake version of President Donald Trump’s decapitated head.

This, dear reader, is “the resistance” that Hollywood directors like Joss Whedon are calling for because Mr. Trump will allegedly trick the nation into massacring gay people. The entertainment community now finds itself weirdly peddling the idea that Mr. Trump should have his head chopped off to … stop him from chopping off heads.

Get it? If you do, then please explain it to me in the comments section below.

Joss Whedon Trump tweet

Ms. Griffin apologized when the ensuing outrage spread like wildfire across social media, but that begs the question: Did she mean it, or was she trying to save her annual payday with CNN? When someone looks up repeatedly while apologizing, it comes across as, “Okay, okay. I’ll say I’m sorry. Can we just get this over with and move on? Yeesh.”

Consider what the comedian said just hours earlier to photographer Tyler Shields: “We’re going to go to prison — federal prison. Call your dad, apologize.”

She knew people would be angry and disgusted, but she did it anyway. She just didn’t realize that there are still enough people with common decency across the political spectrum that she would become professionally toxic to many of her peers. 

Kathy Griffin Apologize

Mr. Trump is a lot of things, but he most certainly does not deserve to have his fellow Americans sending the message that he should be executed ISIS-style. Nobody deserves such a fate, but for some disgusting reason the Hollywood community has decided to try and equate him with “Nazis” and Hitler and any other group that serves to transform him into a monster.

The reason is simple: Once you dehumanize a man and turn him into a demon, then it is easy to rationalize any action(s) used to destroy said demon. The entertainment industry has decided that a rhetorical and “artistic” scorched earth strategy is acceptable for “resisting” the president, even if it further tears the nation apart.

My guess is that Ms. Griffin, like many comedians, has a whole slew of psychological and emotional issues. People should be mindful of that as they respond to her “art.” Regardless, she should be held responsible for her a behavior. It is up to good people to take a stand against Hollywood’s most ghoulish political hacks, because the industry’s aggregated efforts have a huge effect on shaping young minds.

If you want to know what the future of America looks like without the right actions of morally upstanding individuals today, then look no further than the social media feeds of men like Joss Whedon and women like Kathy Griffin. Absent a miracle, I firmly believe that our nation is bound for many dark days ahead.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Jokes galore, the feels, and Baby Groot in a Marvel film that won’t age well

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 trailer

Star-Lord and the gang are back for another adventure in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This installment even gives Michael Rooker as Yondu a chance to shine, but the question remains: Is it any good?

Answer: It’s complicated.

One of the pleasant surprises of 2014 was seeing how Marvel Studios director James Gunn took a little known property (outside comic fandom) and turned it into a worldwide success with the right mix of irreverent humor, legitimate “feels,” and action. One of the slightly unpleasant surprises in 2017 is the way Mr. Gunn seemingly decided to just take everything that worked in the original and dial it up about five notches at the expense of the story.

Before we move on, here is the plot in a nutshell:

  • Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell), saves the Guardians as they flee a race known as the Sovereign.
  • Star-Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista) must figure out who Ego is and what he represents.
  • Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot are left behind with their ship and captive Nebula (Karen Gillan). They struggle to survive after being captured by Yondu and the “Ravagers.”

The good thing about Vol. 2 is that it explores all sorts of family dynamics and does so with a ton of heart. The bad thing about Vol. 2 is that every serious moment seems to be punctuated with a joke — and not all of them are that funny. Many of the jokes hinge on the audience caring about 80s pop-culture, and at some point it all threatens to derail the film.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m out of touch. The audience I saw Vol. 2 with seemed to eat up every moment and laugh at every joke, even the Pacman moment better left in Adam Sander’s 2015 Pixels script.

There’s much more to say, but I would rather not include spoilers in the body of this review (feel free to spoil away in the comments section). The most succinct way of putting it is this: I enjoyed much of Vol. 2, but it isn’t a Marvel Studios film I plan to watch again and doubt that it will age well.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below. Have at it, hard-core Guardians fans…

Check out my review over at Conservative Book Club.

Joss Whedon Watch: Batgirl director uses teen cancer survivors as political weapons

At what point does a man look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m politically unhinged and I need help before I sink into an ideological abyss and drown.” If your name is Joss Whedon, now would be a good time to ask that question.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to social media today, you missed the moment when Warner Bros.’ Batgirl director decided it would be a good idea to use teenage cancer survivors as a cudgel with which to beat President Donald Trump. Seriously. We have reached the point in Mr. Whedon’s life when children who somehow survived countless rounds of chemotherapy are fair game as weapons in a rhetorical war against political enemies.

Warner Bros. executives, if you’re listening, I have a question for you: Do you really want a man who is this unhinged — a man who brings this much baggage with him — at the helm of a big-budget superhero film? If so, then you too might want to consider getting your heads examined.

Check out my latest YouTube video to see Joss Whedon publicly demonstrate how easy it is for a man to die inside from ideological hemlock poisoning. Then, when you’re done, take a moment and vow never to emulate his behavior. You’ll be glad you did upon your own deathbed.

‘Logan’ review: Hugh Jackman goes out on top in final turn as Wolverine

Logan

The world finally has an R-rated version of Wolverine that does everything right.

If you love Wolverine, then you should run out to see Hugh Jackman’s final turn with the character in Logan. It’s a smart film that doesn’t skimp on action, it’s filled with heart, and the performances by Mr. Jackman and Patrick Stewart as Professor X are top notch.

There is much to say about this movie, but instead of doing up two different reviews I think I’ll just share a portion of what I wrote for Conservative Book Club and then ask  you to kindly check them out for the full version.

I wrote shortly after the film’s release:

The world has seen Hugh Jackman play the Marvel superhero Wolverine for 17 years, but it appears as though the actor saved his best performance for last. Director James Mangold’s R-rated Logan hauled in $247.3 globally its opening weekend, and for good reason — it’s a superhero movie that transcends the genre.

What is perhaps the most fascinating about Logan is that while it is chalk full violent deaths, underneath the blood and gore is a film that promotes selfless sacrifice, unconditional love, loyalty, family, and the possibility of redemption for all men — no matter how fallible they may be. Bad characters die, but the film’s message on many levels can be considered “pro-life.” Good samaritans risk everything for children who are treated as expendable tools, while the life an elderly and infirm man is fiercely protected by the protagonist.

Logan (story by Mangold, screenplay by Scott Frank) takes place in a future where all of the X-Men in the 20th Century Fox franchise are dead — wiped out in large part due to the decaying mind of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Wolverine and an ally named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) have been driven underground along the U.S. border with Mexico, although the hero is able make enough cash to get Charles seizure medication by working nights as a limo driver.

Everything changes for the trio when a nurse smuggles a genetically engineered child known as X-23 (Dafne Keen) out of captivity before she can be killed by the villain Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Her goal is to transport the girl a rally point in North Dakota where children with similar capabilities will attempt to cross the border into Canada. Logan, with his failing immune system and broken body, is coerced into the quest by Charles and the surviving shards of virtue buried deep within his own adamantium bones.

“You know, Logan, this is what life looks like: a home, people who love each other, a safe place. You should take a moment and feel it,” Xavier says when they are eventually given food and shelter by a family of farmers.

“Yeah, it’s great,” the reluctant hero sarcastically replies.

“Logan! You still have time,” Xavier implores.

Check out the rest over at CBC.

 

Iron Fist’s Finn Jones shows sponge spine with rabid Twitter activists

The next Marvel “team-up” with Netflix will be streaming live within days, which means social justice activists are chomping at the bit more than usual to complain … and complain … and complain. They gave us a taste of what to expect last weekend when they chased Finn Jones of Iron Fist off Twitter for essentially being a nice guy.

I’ve covered the whole “Danny Rand should be Asian!” complaints before on this blog, but I figured it was the right time to revisit the issue since the perpetual victim crowd managed to chase an apparent ally off Twitter. Smooth move, guys!

Anyway, for the full rundown I invite you to check out my latest YouTube video. As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.

Related:

Iron Fist casting: io9’s Rob Bricken epitomizes SJW crowd’s intellectual bankruptcy

Iron Fist Netflix casting gives ulcers to race-obsessed fans