Thor: Love and Thunder Movie Review

By the time the 4th movie in a franchise is released, the audience has certain expectations. Those expectations at least partially dictate how fans will react to the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder was recently released in theaters.

Since we last saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at the end of Avengers: Endgame, he has gotten his act together. The beer belly is gone and Thor is once more saving the day. When Gorr, the God Butcher (Christian Bale) leaves a path of destruction and dead gods in his wake, Thor goes on a mission to stop him. Joining him are Korg (voiced by director/screenwriter Taika Waititi), King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and former girlfriend Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

This is not only one of the best movies of the year, it is one of the best comic book superhero movies of the last few years. The humor is top-notch, the action is perfect, and the chemistry/awkwardness between Thor and Jane is the emotional lynchpin of the narrative.

As Gorr, Bale is as scary and unnerving. The only villain who has created that same emotion in me is “He who shall not be named” (Ralph Fiennes) from the Harry Potter franchise. Like Erik Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in Black Panther, Gorr is not just a baddie for baddie’s sake. His reasons are understandable, even if we don’t agree with his actions. The makeup on him is fantastic, he almost disappears under the prosthetics and white paint.

If I had a favorite moment in the film, it was Russell Crowe‘s scenes as Zeus. His take on this character is a bombastic, full of it God who knows that he is in control. Instead of ruling by force, he rules by charisma and charm.

If that was not enough to make me happy, the soundtrack includes a number of Guns N’ Roses songs. I couldn’t help but sing along.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Thor: Love and Thunder is presently in theaters.

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P.S. There are two post-credit scenes. Trust me when I say that it is worth staying for both.

Passing Movie Review

When one is part of a minority group, there are two obvious choices. The first one is to be who you are, regardless of what is being said about you. The second is to pretend to be someone else and fit in, otherwise known as passing.

Passing is the title of the new Netflix film. Based on a book written by Nella Larsen, it is set in New York City in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) were friends in high school. Both are biracial and have not seen each other for many years. Irene has embraced her identity as a woman of color while Clare is passing as Caucasian. Upon meeting Clare’s very white and very prejudiced husband John (Alexander Skarsgard), Irene is both curious and disgusted by her old pal’s life preference. For her part, Clare is drawn into Irene’s circle of mostly African-American friends (including Irene’s husband, Brian, played by Andre Holland). Unlike Clare, they have openly and proudly embraced their identities. She is forced to grapple with the self-applied mask of passing she has put on.

Written and directed by Rebecca Hall (who has been speaking to the press about her own biracial identity), this is a powerhouse of a film. Though both the book and the movie tell the story of two women who are both partially of African-American descent, I felt like understood them. I’ve often spoken on this blog about my own Jewish faith and identity. I could, if I wanted to, pass as someone of another faith or no faith at all. I’ve been asked quite a few times if I am of Irish ancestry due to my red hair.

At the end of the day, it is this decision we make that defines our lives. Do we not give a fuck and just be ourselves or do we submerge who we are to be accepted by others? It is a question that each of us must ask ourselves, knowing the outcome has to potential to have life-altering consequences.

Do I recommend it? absolutely.

Passing is available for streaming on Netflix.

P.S. I would not be surprised if Passing did well come award season.

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

*Warning: this review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk.

A sequel of a sequel of a superhero movie walks a fine line. It has to be entertaining, but it also has to extend the narrative and the character arc in a way that feels right to both the universe and the characters.

Two weeks ago, Thor: Ragnarok hit theaters.  Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer of this world. His previously unknown first child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), otherwise known as the Goddess of Death has returned from exile to return Asgard to the way it was before her exile. But to do this, she has to make sure that her brothers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are out-of-the-way. They find themselves in another world where Thor is a gladiator and fighting against The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). This world is ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who might be crazy. With the help of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor, Loki and The Hulk might be able to defeat Hela and save Asgard.

If there was a proper way to do a second sequel, especially for a movie which is based on a comic book, this film is the blueprint. It is funny, entertaining  and takes the narrative and characters in new directions without feeling stale or overproduced. And of course, the two female characters, played by Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett are amazing. They contribute to the narrative, both standing on their own two feet and neither relying on the stereotypical female caricatures that exist in the genre.

I absolutely recommend it.

Thor: Ragnarok is presently in theaters. 

 

 

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