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.

Movie Review: Iron Man

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/movies/marvel-studios-iron-man/6aM2a8mZATiu

Score: 7/10

I recently got access to Disney Plus, which means I now have access to all the Marvel movies. Disney has conveniently laid out of these movies in their intended watching order and I’ve decided to give them all a watch through. First on the list is Iron Man, a movie so successful that it spawned the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tony Stark is technological genius. He is the head of Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer who sells weapons to the United States military. After getting kidnapped by terrorists in the middle east, Tony realizes that his business may cause more harm than good. He then constructs the most technologically advanced weapon on the planet, a high tech suit of armor powered by a nearly limitless power source. With this new weapon, he seeks to rectify the mistakes his company has committed.

Much of what I liked about this movie are the same thing I enjoyed in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. It’s the perfect balance of comedy and drama, which is a high dose of comedy with a little drama. The action is very good and the special effects — which were amazing at the time– still hold up surprisingly well.

The main attraction of this movie is Robert Downey Jr., who plays our protagonist Tony Stark. Downey does a great job portraying a charismatic jerk. His dialogue flies fast and loose. Part of that may be because much of film is flying by the seat of its pants. I watched some behind the scenes for this movie and much of the dialogue was not finalized until the day of shooting. Production simply moved too fast to slow down (probably due to financial restraints) and the actors adapted accordingly. Somehow, the dialogue and performances still felt natural and fun, though you can see a little bit of that improvisational energy that you’d see in your local improv troupe.

Overall, this was a fun movie. It doesn’t get too dark like Batman Begins nor does it get too campy like the old Fantastic Four movies. It’s the right balance of funny, action and special effects. Iron Man stands the test of time as an ideal summer blockbuster movie.

Comic Book Review: Excalibur (2019)

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/27547/excalibur_2019_-_present

Score: 5.9/10

I’ve read about twelve issues at the time of writing this review and it’s become clear that Excalibur exists merely as a prelude to X Of Swords.

Basically, in X Of Swords, the big crossover X-Men events, Apocalypse creates and interdimensional gate. This book just explains how that came to be. The stories aren’t great and don’t feel as if they have any urgency or point to them. The art is fine. It’s just a pointless book where the biggest draw to me is seeing the romance between Rogue and Gambit. Even that wasn’t that great.

Overall, this is a skippable book.

Comic Book Review: X-Force (2019)

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/27564/x-force_2019_-_2020

Score: 7/10

Of all the X-Men books currently in print, this book probably has the most meaningful story. All the other books feel like asides or slices of life of the new mutant nation. This book feels like it has a point to it.

As per the other current X-Men books, all the world’s mutants have united and formed their own nation. Threats have arisen to attack this new nation and a covert hit squad is needed to take those threats out. Enter X-Force.

I like that from the very start, the stakes are high. The story starts with the assassination of Charles Xavier. Thanks to the resurrection protocols, they can bring him back, but that an assassination like this was even possible endangers the entire nation. Wolverine then assembles a group of capable mutants to hunt down the enemies responsible.

What’s interesting about this book is that the members of X-Force are mangled and resuscitated constantly. Quentin Quire in particular has become a recurring joke where he usually dies off in the first few minutes of every mission.

Other than Quentin, there is some exploration into the implications of resurrection and the effect on people psychology. When you resurrect, you can have some of your most painful memories erased, enabling a more stable mind. Some character elect not to resurrect because they’d rather keep their scars than forget them. There’s a lot of interesting musings like this.

Mostly though, the plot revolves around threats that endanger the entire nation. Whereas the other books offer a small slice of the new mutant society, X-Force deals with national threats that endanger every mutant. It’s a nice change from the other X-Men books. Also, the tone here is more serious, which is nice since the other books are more humorous most of the time.

Overall, X-Force is good. If you want to keep up with the new X-Men status quo, X-Force is a good book to do that with.

Comic Book Review: Empyre: X-Men (2020)

Details: This miniseries is currently completed. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/30527/empyre_x-men_2020

Score: 7/10

Despite Empyre being a big disappointment, this Empyre: X-Men spinoff miniseries was a lot of fun. It even has a bit of emotion to it.

As per the Empyre miniseries, an alien race called the Cotati are invading the Earth and one of them decides to land on the former mutant nation of Genosha. Unbeknownst to the Cotati, Wanda Maximoff has temporarily turned the millions of mutant corpses on the island into zombies for about thirty days. Hijinks now ensue as the Cotati and the X-Men battle each other while battling millions of superpowered zombies.

My main enjoyment with this book is the comedy. There are lots of funny moments between the X-Men has they deal with this threat. Despite the Cotati being a potentially world ending threat, the X-Men don’t really take it seriously. I mean they do, but they mess around a lot too. Throw in some evil, elderly botanists that were introduced in Hickman’s X-Men series, and you get even more jokes thrown in.

What surprised me though was one specific scene involving the zombie of a mutant and the actual mutant the zombie was based off of. If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, all mutants are basically immortal… but not really. Whenever a mutant dies, a clone of that mutant is created with all their powers and their memories. So in a sense, all mutants are immortal.

Anyways, a mutant named Explodey Boy who has the power of blowing himself up meets with the zombified corpse of himself on Genosha. They have a very moving conversation among themselves. It’s very science fiction-y in that it’s like your future self talking to your younger self, except that it’s your future self talking to your younger, currently dead self and talking about how life has turned out all right for them. It was very strangely moving and elevated the whole story.

Overall, this was a fun read and had just the right amount of emotion added onto the end of it. If you haven’t read Empyre and have a grasp of X-Men comic book lore, you might feel a bit lost though.