Jeff Goldblum

REVIEW: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on Sakaar, a planet ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and is forced to battle in gladiator-style events where he is reunited with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Thor must fight to escape and return to Asgard where the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett) has claimed the throne and plots to bring about Ragnarok – the end of everything.

Thor: Ragnarok is big, bright and bold. It’s the most colourful Thor film yet, especially the planet Sakaar. Everything there from the costumes to the sets to the characters, they are all vivid and almost bursting from the screen. Thor: Ragnarok has a lot of humour too. Not all the jokes land but it’s bright world compliments weird and funny characters.

A lot happens in the first thirty minutes of Thor: Ragnarok. There’s a lot of character introductions, references to what happened in the previous Thor standalone film, The Dark World, and set up for the main plot. It bounces all over the place for a time, from various planets including Asgard and Earth until the main story settles on Sakaar. This is a bit disjointing at times and makes it hard to settle in with the flow of the film, especially when the off-beat humour is not really what has been seen in previous Thor films.

Once everything is set up though, that’s when the various characters and their interactions really shine. Any of the moments between Thor, the Hulk (or Bruce Banner when he’s back in the driving seat), scavenger Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and combinations thereof were a joy to watch. The quick-witted banter is great but there’s still some nice moments of character building between them all.

The action sequences are a lot of fun, especially the battle between Thor and the Hulk. Hela proves to be a formidable villain as she wrecks death and destruction on Asgard, with very few standing in her way. She’s probably the most interesting villain since Loki, and her entrance into Thor’s world flips everything both he, and the audience, knows on its head.

Thor: Ragnarok is weird but kind of wonderful. It isn’t perfect and has a lot going on at times, but the cast of characters and their interactions are what makes it. It’s a funny and enjoyable watch. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

independence_day_resurgenceTwenty years after the first Independence Day invasion attempt, Earth is faced with a new alien threat. Will mankind, including those who helped stop the first attack, be able to triumph this one?

Independence Day: Resurgence is the long-awaited sequel to 1996’s Independence Day and a lot of the original cast is back, as well as a lot of new characters. That in itself is a bit of a problem. Original characters like President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe), go-to alien-expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) all return and then you have new characters like pilots Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) the son of Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller and Rain Lao (Angelababy) and then there’s scientist Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and a lot of children – a school bus-full of them. The film struggles to give the runtime to all these characters, it tries to give them each an emotional moment or character arc but it doesn’t work a lot of the time.

Independence Day: Resurgence is also a bit slow to get going. It has to set up all the aforementioned characters and the type of world they’re in now that humanity has pulled together and has used the alien technology to improve their own. Plus, there’s this whole bit in Africa with David Levinson at the beginning that almost feels like it’s just a reason for him to be away from America when everything really kicks off.

That being said, the effects are pretty spectacular and the action-sequences are thrilling – though when there’s dogfights in the air it’s a bit difficult to keep track of which planes are the good guys since humans have combined human technology with alien tech. No one quite does worldwide destruction like Roland Emmerich!

Independence Day: Resurgence is mostly entertaining but doesn’t live up to the original. While it still has some humour, it doesn’t always hit the spot and I think the film misses the charm and charisma that Will Smith brought to the original. 3/5.