Here is the second half of my catch-up (continued from here) on movies I’ve seen recently with the guys of my house – my husband and my two sons (22 and 16) – mainly in the superhero and adventure genres. Oscar nominations in these genres are less common, although Star Wars: The Last Jedi received four and Blade Runner 2049 received five, even though none of them are in the big categories.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017):
Superhero movies are best when they don’t take themselves too seriously — and of course when they have some really great eye candy! My older son was not all that keen to come and see yet another Marvel Universe movie, but he was actually the one laughing the loudest! Thor: Ragnarok is such a lot of fun. Director Taika Waititi allows the actors to improvise and move a bit away from their traditional roles, creating some really funny dialogue and scenes. And of course watching Chris Hemsworth as Thor (even though they cut his hair!) and Tom Hiddleston as Loki together on screen once again is definitely not hard to take. Mark Ruffalo also appears as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, and a new exciting villain is introduced in Cate Blanchett as Hela.
The music is great, with Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song featuring prominently and providing a perfect backdrop for a big battle scene.
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
Hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new land.
To fight the hordes and sing, and cry.
Valhalla, I am coming.
There are even strains of Pure Imagination (originally from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) when we meet the eccentric Grandmaster, played by one of my favourite actors, Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum’s character reminds me of Stanley Tucci as the host of The Hunger Games, with the same over-the-top glee at the competition he is overseeing.
This movie is really enjoyable and highly recommended when it becomes available on the small screen.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017):
Tom Holland (recently seen with Richard Armitage in Pilgrimage) stars in this latest take on the Spider-Man story — again part of the Marvel Universe. Peter Parker is in high school and trying so hard to be a hero while getting used to his newfound superpowers. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is around to show Spidey just how much he really doesn’t know. Again, the movie is really funny and Holland plays the character with just the right blend of teenage overconfidence and eagerness. The teenage world is captured so well, as he and his friend navigate typical situations interrupted by the pull of fighting crime and the cool suit. Holland’s dance background is put to good use in his moves and jumps that are so recognizably Spider-Man. I had read that some people complained that Marisa Tomei (in her fifties) is too young and “hot” to play Aunt May, but in my opinion, she makes it work and her sex appeal is downplayed just enough.
I only saw Spider-Man: Homecoming recently on DVD, not having been that interested when it was in the theatre. I was pleasantly surprised at what a good movie this is and I can definitely recommend it.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017):
I did see this in the cinema, although it is now on video on demand (and hence the need to catch up!). The movie has Oscar nominations for Cinematography, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.
This science-fiction film is a sequel to the original Blade Runner movie released in 1982, which was directed by Ridley Scott. While Blade Runner 2049 has a similar dark tone to the original, they are very different movies which likely is one of the reasons that the box office results were not that good. Hard-core Blade Runner fans were probably expecting something much different.
The original Blade Runner stars Harrison Ford as a cop or blade runner hunting down replicants that have rebelled. While it explores complex themes, such as an android’s right to live a self-directed life and whether humans have the right to assert control over an “inferior” group, it is primarily a violent action film. Rutger Hauer is great in his scariness as one of the replicant rebels.
The new movie, Blade Runner 2049, is directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve and takes place thirty years later. Ryan Gosling (another Canadian!) plays a new-generation replicant tasked with tracking down the remaining older models. It is told from the replicant blade runner’s point of view, rather than a human’s, and it is a much slower and more contemplative film (even though there is action and violence). Gosling’s character makes a discovery and pursues it with something like hope, making you root for him to find the answer he is looking for. Harrison Ford reprises his original character, who has retreated from the world, until Gosling’s character comes to find him. Really, though, this is Gosling’s movie and he does a fine job.
I really liked Blade Runner 2049 and its slower pace, although it is too long at 2 hours and 44 minutes — I came out saying that it was a great movie for the first two hours. After that it becomes much more about the action and less about the quest.
The Incredibles (2004):
I’m really looking forward to Incredibles 2, which is coming to theatres on June 15, 2018. So, when the original movie, The Incredibles, appeared on TV the other week, I took the opportunity to re-watch it. Before we get to that, though, here’s a little sneak peak of the long-awaited sequel:
The original 2004 movie, The Incredibles, was written and directed by Brad Bird. It won the 2005 Oscar for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, in addition to getting a win and a nomination in sound-related categories. What makes this movie so good, is that the characters are presented as just regular people living lives that we can recognize and identify with. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of The Flintstones, in capturing and presenting typical family life, even though in that case it was set in the Stone Age.
Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), his wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their kids have been caught up in the enforced retirement of all superheros, after government wants to put a stop to the chaos they cause while fighting crime. But not being one’s true self is hard on everyone, particularly Bob (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) who trudges wearily through his life as an insurance adjuster and suburban father. His wife Helen (a.k.a. Elastigirl) is pretty adamant that they stay the course of “normalcy” to protect themselves and their three kids, who of course also have superpowers that are not so well hidden. A chance to regain his former glory has Bob donning the suit and heading to an exotic location, all the while keeping it hidden from his wife — until of course the whole family must get involved to save themselves and the world.
Pretty much everything is good about this movie — the story and script, the animation, the voice work — and I highly recommend it.