Monday, 20 November 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I’ve been waiting to see this one for a little while now and to start with, this is a great film to watch in the cinema, especially with a large crowd which, even after a few weeks of being out, my cinema had. As great a ride as it was, it wasn’t without its flaws.

Marvel has had a shaky time with Thor, his films have been released to a mixed response but the characters are still very much beloved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Third time round the studio decided to hire Taika Waititi to direct Ragnarok, the brilliant New Zealander who directed films like What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. And Waititi definitely brought his humorous style of filmmaking with him. When a director as unique and original as Waititi comes along, you expect a different flavour of film and Ragnarok definitely feels like Waititi in the dialogue department. However, it doesn’t really do anything different with Marvel’s formula of storytelling, despite poking fun at it throughout.

There’s signs that Marvel are changing their ways; female characters aren’t love interests (and are allowed to be villains), Earth doesn’t have to play a significant role, the film has some weird and wacky design elements and the old cast is out for a new take on the god of thunder. However, the story is just another case of the big bad being bad and the hero needs to stop the big bad in the final act. There’s a lot of fun to be had in between the setup and the conclusion but ultimately this is another film that follows the basic tropes of what Marvel has already perfected many a time. Spider-Man: Homecoming looked to be the start of a different kind of Marvel film but ultimately we’ve gone a step backwards with Ragnarok. If I hadn’t enjoyed the comedy and characters so much then I might have disliked this one a lot more.

This film really does rest on its characters backs. Chris Hemsworth proving once again he’s a comic to be reckoned with, with his brilliant timing and almost Monty Python esque Thor. Tom Hiddleston kills it as Loki again although that was always to be expected. Cate Blanchett hams it up in a good way as Hela and although the villain is better than most of the bad guys Marvel has put on the big screen, she still didn’t feel iconic enough to be classed as a truly great antagonist. Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie was a very cool addition to the cast, she’s a drunk and a badass, it’s a fun combination. Mark Ruffalo returns with a more developed version of The Hulk and Jeff Goldblum essentially plays himself and it’s a much-welcomed addition to the franchise.

The middle act of the film is primarily set on the planet Sakaar, a junkyard planet with weird and wonderful characters and some odd and medieval cultures. This section of the film is the best, it’s a love letter to artist Jack Kirby and also features some great synth scores. This should have been the film in my opinion, with Hela maybe left to make an impact in the future and the crazy adventures of Thor, Hulk and Valkyrie the main show.

I feel like I’m criticising a film I enjoyed watching, so if nothing else, Thor: Ragnarok is a Saturday morning cartoon come to life complete with some cartoon-y CGI. It’s a fun ride, it’s got a lot of humour but the story just might feel a little familiar after sitting through seventeen entries in the franchise. Mix it up Marvel, we’re going to watch a film with your name on it either way. However, the characters endure and are a joy to watch together as well as being very funny. I’m rating Thor: Ragnarok a 3.5/5.

What did you think of the film, the best Thor of the bunch or the worst? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Kept in the dark, unsure of what is going on, the orchestral score running deep into the pit of your stomach before you’re caught off guard by a striking image, a beating heart (I think anyway, I don’t know anatomy) open in surgery, horrifying but beautiful at the same time. The opening scene of The Killing of a Sacred Deer gives you all you need to know about Yorgos Lanthimos’s new film.

I could end my review now, but I’ll try and put into words my experience of this film without spoiling the story, this is really one you want to go in to with a blank slate. The basic premise is ‘A Teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family take an unexpected turn.’

If you saw The Lobster (and if you haven’t it’s on Netflix, you should see it) then you will know that Yorgos Lanthimos likes to make weird films and this one is no exception. The joy of this film is not knowing what’s going on and trying to figure out from every image and every small tick from the characters on screen, what on earth you’re actually watching. You’re left in the dark for a lot of it as it goes from surreal drama to a plot you might see in a Batman film before it’s tense and jaw clenching final act.

The cast of this film are incredible, the three mains being Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan. Keoghan who was last seen in Dunkirk gets a lot more screen time here to show off his acting chops, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of him after his performance in this film. Like I said before though, the whole cast is on top form, fully investing you in the characters, all relishing in Lanthimos’s dead pan style.

The cinematography is crisp, clean and an awe to look at, pushed along with this loud orchestral score that’s terrifying to behold as it comes through when the tension is at breaking point. It reminded me of one of my other favourite films this year, Raw, with its horror nature mixed with the surreal. It’s a delight to watch even if it could have been a tad shorter but not all of these kinds of films are as easy to watch, be invested and lose yourself in it.

The Killing of a Scared Deer carries on the trend of great cinema in 2017, if you can take a bit of surreal with your film watching then go see this one in the cinema ASAP. I’m rating it a 4.5/5.

Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!