Movie Review: Thor

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800369/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/

Score: 6/10

I recently got my grubby little mitts on a Disney Plus account and it’s been a great opportunity to revisit old Marvel movies that I barely remember. Disney has conveniently laid these movies out in chronological order so that’s the order I’ve been watching them in. First was Iron Man, then Iron Man 2, now we’ve reached Thor. While Iron Man was fun and a breath of fresh air, Thor was trite and not that good.

The story focuses on Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Asgardians are a god-like race of aliens that frequently visited Earth. Thor is the prince of Asgard, son of Odin, who is king. Through Thor’s own folly, he is banished to Earth and his powers taken away. Little do any know that a great conspiracy is under way to usurp the Asgardian throne and bring doom to all. Thor must now grow out of his immaturity and into a hero worthy of Asgard.

The story of this movie is not great. It’s all over the place. You could tell that they were attempting many things at once and ended up doing a lackluster job for most. It felt rushed and incomplete. There’s not enough time setting up all the ideas and the conflicts and their resolution felt rushed and unfulfilling.

You need to keep in mind that this movie existed solely to create a movie version of Thor to put into the first Avengers movie. At the time, this kind of big, cinematic series that culminated in a big team-up movie where the main characters in all the superhero movies would show up and do one big movie together had never been done before. They were flying by the seat of their pants and the result was mediocre bunch of movies meant to introduce characters for future movies where they can then team up for other characters. For that reason, it’s easy to see why the plot in this movie was so bad. No one cared that much about Thor in comparison to how much they cared about that first Avengers movie. Further, as was said before, this was the first time anyone tried a combined, cinematic fictional universe. There was a lack of experience here that would not be rectified until years later when the Russo brothers would come along and Kevin Feige would consolidate power and the authority to make creative decisions independently.

My biggest regret with this film is how they tried to go the dramatic route for this first film. They simply didn’t realize that Hemsworth’s talents lie in the comedic and that Thor is so strange a character that it’s hard to tell a serious story about him with a straight face. Once Thor: Ragnarok came around and we got to see just how funny Hemsworth could be, there was no turning back and the Thor franchise will now forever remain a series defined by it’s funny moments and it’s all the better for it.

Overall, this was a passable movie that exists simply to lay some ground work for Thor’s appearance in the first Avengers movie. The plot isn’t great, but isn’t horrific. The special effects are nice. It’s just an overall boring movie with little payoff for all it’s plot points. The only thing that they did right in this film was the casting. It’s no surprise that years later, Hemsworth and Hiddleston continue to make Marvel movies because of how much fans loved them.

TV Show Review: WandaVision

Details: More information can be found at https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/wandavision and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9140560/

Score: 7/10

WandaVision is the first production from the Marvel cinematic universe after the events of Avengers: Endgame. As a long time Marvel movie fan, I was looking forward to whatever hints Marvel felt like dropping for the future of their shows and movies. In that regard, I enjoyed WandaVision mostly as a prelude for what may come in the future. By itself, it is passable. What surprised me most was how I’ve read many opinions of people who enjoyed the show who did not keep up with the movies or even never saw the movies. Personally, I watched the show with someone who never saw the movies and even they somewhat enjoyed despite having no knowledge of the events that transpired before this show.

Like all the other Marvel movies, WandaVision belongs within the Marvel cinematic universe. This means that the events that took place in all the Marvel movies also occurred in the fictional universe that WandaVision takes place in. I won’t spoil what happens in the prior movies, but in the first episode of this nine episode show, Wanda — a superpowered heroine– finds herself in a 1950’s sitcom. The rest of the show explores this idea and explains the truth about how she got here.

The first half of the series emulate the sitcom theme and in my opinion, it gets old fast. I needed more plot development and reveals a lot sooner. I understand what they were trying to achieve with these episodes, but after the first episode, it was boring.

The last few episodes turn away from the theme of emulating old sitcoms and reverts to your standard Marvel movie plot structure. That generally means more action with a big, bombastic action scene at the end filled with special effects. It was ordinary, predictable, and uneventful. At this point, I’ve seen so many Marvel movies that a big action scene at the end actually bores me. I’ve actually gotten tired of action scenes and explosions thanks to Marvel. Give me plot reveals, drama and dialogue please.

My favorite episode was the one where they reveal and explain everything, including Wanda’s past. I won’t say more than that, but that was by far the most meaningful episode and emotional one.

Overall, this was a nice prelude to the future of Marvel movies and shows, but it was just okay on it’s own. It’s interesting enough that non-Marvel fans may enjoy it, but much of the connections to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe will be lost on them and some things might not make any sense without some internet searching or someone who can explain things.

Manhwa Review: Rooftop Sword Master

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 옥탑방 소드마스터

Score: 7/10

Rooftop Sword Master is a revenge story with a super powered twist.

Some spoilers ahead.

The story is about a teenage boy who is severely bullied into a coma. During his coma, horrible things happen to his family and he is traumatized upon learning of those things when he wakes up. As he is wallowing in his sadness, a massive sword appears before him and grants him superhuman powers. Now, the boy seeks to use the powers given to him to kill all those responsible for wronging him.

Like all good revenge stories, you start out with the wrong that the protagonist is subjected to. The point it to gain sympathy and motivate the audience into wanting to see the bad guys get their due. Rooftop Sword Master does a great job of doing that and portrays some good bad guys who mostly got away with their evil acts.

Then we get to the payback. Our protagonist gears up and goes on a Death Wish-like killing spree. Back in the eighties, there were a ton of American movies where our protagonist bought some machine guns and killed a bunch of bad guys. Here, our protagonist gets a magic sword. It buffs him up and pretty much makes him invincible. He goes around beating the crap out of police and military and anyone who gets in his way as he reaches his targets. It’s wild, it’s unrealistic, but it’s a lot of fun to see.

The art is very stylized and not bad. As I often say, it’s not Solo Leveling quality of art, but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, this is a satisfying revenge story, at least so far. The series is currently ongoing and is taking some interesting turns involving foreign governments and politics and a bunch of other stuff. I don’t really love these new plot points just yet. Personally, I just wanted to see evil people get beat up, but I guess that can only last so long. For the series to survive, they’re going to have to introduce some new things.

Manga Review: The Executed Sage Is Reincarnated as a Lich and Starts an All-Out War

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as Shokei Sareta Kenja wa Lich ni Tensei Shite Shinryaku Sensou wo Hajimaru and 処刑された賢者はリッチに転生して侵略戦争を始める.

Score: 6.8/10

I’m enjoying this story so far, but it is very similar to the Overlord manga/anime.

The story is about a mage and a hero in a fantasy world. After defeating the demon lord, the two are executed on false charges. The mage is so distraught by what happens that he vows revenge and revives as a lich. Now this mage seeks revenge on the human world and world peace by being the greatest evil in the world and uniting humanity against himself.

Overlord was an isekai story where a protagonist was transported into the fantasy world of a video game he played. Once there, he became the big bad villain of that world and the story followed his villainy. This comic is not isekai as it starts and continues in a fantasy world with no connection to the real world. However, it does have a lot of the tropes of an isekai story as the protagonist is overpowered and defeats everyone.

Like Overlord, our protagonist is a villain and goes around doing evil stuff. He kills lots of people and takes over kingdoms and raises an evil monster army. Unlike Overlord, this is mostly a revenge story, at least as far as I’ve gotten into the plot. The protagonist wants revenge for the execution of the hero, his close friend and maybe romantic partner. So you get a combination of isekai tropes, anti-hero tropes, and revenge story tropes.

The art is fine.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable story that plays off multiple genres. Accordingly, it feels slightly new, but is mostly familiar narratively.

Manhwa Review: SSS-Class Suicide Hunter

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as SSS급 자살헌터.

Score: 6.9/10

SSS-Class Suicide Hunter starts off as a refreshing take on the overdone Korean-isekai-dungeon-raiding genre. Sadly, this only applies to the first one or two story arcs before settling in the same old redundant narrative pattern that all manhwa comics in this genre fall into.

Kind of like Tower of God, our protagonist lives in a tower, which is like this multidimensional construct with multiple floors. Each floor is like a separate world. There are lots of other people in this tower and their goal is all the same: they want to ascend the tower and obtain power, glory, or whatever it is at the top of the tower. Anyone who enters the tower is granted powers, except that our protagonist has not yet been granted one. One day while consumed with envy, our protagonist gets the power to steal an ability from another player, but it only activates when he’s killed by that player. He is later killed by that player and gains the power to reborn. So begins a story where the protagonist dies over and over again in order to gain more abilities, grow stronger and ascend the tower.

The strongest part of this comic is the concept. The idea of being killed in order to get stronger is interesting. Unfortunately, it just turns into slightly more creative take similar to the anime Re:Zero or the movie Groundhog’s Day. There was some real revenge film vibes at first, but then it just turns into doing tasks and climbing the tower… which I’ve read plenty of times in other web comics.

The art is good and that is a good selling point.

Overall, this is just another standard genre comic that starts off okay, but falls back into tropes later on. I’ll still keep up with it because the art is good and the hope that it’ll try something different than what the other comics in this genre are doing.