Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

One night, while out drawing graffiti with his Uncle, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider. This grants him the ability to climb on walls and jump really high, as well as turn invisible and zap people with venom. In effect, he becomes another Spider-Man. This is a big deal, because, until now, Miles always thought there was just one Spider-Man. And, in a very tragic sense, there is, since Miles witnesses the original, Peter Parker Spider-Man get murdered by a dimension opening portal (long story). So now, in addition to having to take up all the responsibilities of the original Spider Man, Miles must also contend with several other Spider People, including Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, the anthropomorphic pig Spider-Ham, and the mech-suit-wearing Peni Parker, all of whom have been brought to his dimension by the portal. Can he do it? Watch the movie and find out.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is loopy, laugh-out-loud fun. It’s fast-paced, got some great voice work from a terrific cast, and some stellar, highly unique, animation. This is a comic book movie that truly embraces a comic book aesthetic, with things like onscreen panels, written sound effects, thought balloons, and the different characters being drawn in different art styles to signify the worlds they came from. This is a movie that is so determined to make you feel like you’re reading a comic book that it literally begins with a disclaimer that “this story has been approved by the comics code authority.” Now, to be clear, this is not a bad thing. As a nerd who was familiar with these obscure characters beforehand, I’m super happy to see them getting greater exposure in a mainstream movie. But more so than them, I’m delighted that Miles Morales is finally getting his time to shine. He’s been a favorite of comics readers for years now, so much so that studios had floated the idea of giving him his own solo movie, but I’m glad they waited until they were able to give us something as good as this. This flick does a superb job of introducing us to his life, his family, particularly his relationship with his Father and Uncle, and getting you to care about him. He’s a super lovable, super fun protagonist. Not only that, he’s unique. In addition to being biracial, Black and Puerto Rican, both of his parents are alive, and together. Do you realize how rare it is to see a superhero with a happy, functional home life? Very, let me tell you. But I’m getting side-tracked. The movie doesn’t just work as fan service. It works as a movie as well. It’s fast-paced, the arcs of the main heroes are all realized, the animation is great, and it’s funny. I really want to emphasize how funny it is. It’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen all year. So if you’re scared of all the obscure references, and worried that the movie will be impenetrable, don’t sweat it. This film is nerdy enough for comic geeks, and funny enough for everyone else.

It isn’t perfect, though. As fast-paced as the film is, it does go on for a bit too long. I think they could have trimmed this down to 90 minutes, and it would have been perfect. But, as it is, it’s 2 hours long, and there are definitely points where it feels a bit overwhelming. Part of this has to do with the sheer number of characters they throw at you. Yes, it’s fun to see Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham, but they don’t show up until about halfway through, aren’t really given any development, and are really just there to serve as punchlines. Which is frustrating, since they have so little to do that you could probably have removed them from the story. The film also has a habit of brushing over pretty big details in order to further the plot. And when I say big, I mean big. Things like, “Where did the spider that bit Miles come from?” “How did it get radioactive?” “How does his dad know to be at a particular location at just the right time?” and “Why does his dad go from hating Spider-Man to loving him?” never get answered. Ugh. But, like I said, the quick pace, light humor and great animation do make this worth watching. This is, without a doubt, the most comic bookie comic book film ever made, and I like it. Yes, it’s too long, there are some plot holes, and certain people could have been given more development, but it’s still fun. Make of this what you will.

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Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, ANd Views Are My Game.

Years ago, Janet Van Dyme, the original Wasp, shrank to a level so small that there was no way for her to return to normal size. As such, she was presumed dead, and her husband and daughter went on without her. Now, though, there’s some (tenuous) evidence to suggest that she may still be alive, and trying to get back to the real world. So it’s up to Hank, Hope, and, of course, Scott, to shrink down, and find their missing teammate. But it won’t be easy, since there’s a gangster, an FBI agent, and a super villain with the power to walk through walls coming after them for various, somewhat silly, reasons.

Ant-Man and The Wasp is pure cinematic fluff. That is both the most accurate, and the most polite, way of describing it. If you don’t believe me, ask Marvel Studios marketing department. After Infinity War, they advertised this movie as being more light-hearted and fun. And when it first came out, critics praised it for that very reason. But the truth is, 10, or 20, or even 30 years in the future, no one is going to care that it came out after a (relatively) dark film in the franchise. They’ll just look at it as a movie. And, as a movie, it’s got quite a few problems. But before I launch into them, I do want to list some positives. It’s very quick-paced, the action sequences are inventive and fun, and there were some genuinely sweet moments, like a bit in the beginning where we see Scott playing with his daughter. There are scenes later on, like when Hank and Janet reunite, that are supposed to be super emotional and impactful that don’t land, but this one in the beginning did. This is a perfectly fun, disposable action movie. It’s the type of film you can watch on cable when you’ve got nothing to do, or if you’ve had a couple of beers with your buddies. Like I said, it’s pure cinematic fluff. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(Phew! Can I go on now? Great). So, the biggest problem I had with this movie was the humor. It’s extremely forced. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. I saw this movie in a packed theater with my roommate, who loves Marvel, and there was barely a peep from anyone. It feels like the director was so determined to make a movie that was lighter in tone than Infinity War that he just decided to cram as much humor in as possible, regardless of whether or not it made sense. There’s a whole gag regarding truth serum that went on for way too long, and that just got annoying after a while, and, as with just about every Marvel movie, they undercut all potentially serious moments with jokes. There’s a scene where they’re explaining Ghost, the (ostensible) main villain’s, back story, but they keep interrupting it with texts from Scott’s daughter. Why? Why would you undercut a potentially powerful moment with silly humor? Especially when you consider that the filmmakers try so hard to get you to care about Ghost, with the heroes not killing her, and even trying to find a cure for her condition (her molecules break apart and reform every few seconds). I’ve got nothing against humor in movies. Hell, I even like it in Marvel movies, like Thor: Ragnarok. But I don’t like movies where the filmmakers don’t allow the audience to sit in any serious moments, for fear that they might be labelled cheesy. This film does that A LOT. Another thing I didn’t care for in this film is the fact that there’s no clear antagonist. What I mean by that is, the heroes have a goal, get Janet back to normal size, but they keep getting waylaid by annoying side characters who don’t really have anything to do with that story. There’s an FBI Agent, played by Randall Park, who wants to keep Scott from violating his house arrest. There’s a gangster, played by Walton Goggins, who wants to steal their tech so he can sell it on the Black Market. And there’s Ghost, a girl with a painful condition who wants to use their tech to make herself whole again. Notice how none of these characters have anything to do with the Janet storyline. They’re really just annoyances meant to distract the heroes long enough for the film to reach feature length. It’s like the screenwriters wrote a treatment, where they gave the heroes a goal, then realized that there wasn’t really anything stopping them from achieving that goal, so, to beef the script up to two hours, they added all these annoying, superfluous characters who only had the most superficial reasons for being there. But something else that kind of bugged me about this movie were the performances, particularly those of Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. Now look, I love these actors. I love Michael Pena in End of Watch, Crash, and The Martian. And I’ve been a fan of Paul Rudd since he appeared on Friends as Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike. But in this film, neither of them really has any depth. They’re both basically just bumbling joke machines. It’s like the director told them, “this is a comedy, so say all your lines really fast, and upbeat, and make everything sound like a joke.” As a result, they’re performances both felt kind of hammy. And I hate to say that, because I love both of these actors, and have seen them do good work in the past, but, here, they’re trying way too hard to come off as funny for me to like them.

Guys, I didn’t hate this movie. It’s too fast-paced, and too well-directed from a visual standpoint, for me to hate. But the forced humor, annoying, pointless villains and somewhat hammy performances bring it down to a rental level. Don’t go and see it in theaters.

The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Picking up precisely where the last film left off, The Incredibles 2 follows the Parr family as they continue to struggle with the government, homework, boys, and pretty much all the same problems they had before. Except, this time, there may be a solution to their woes. See, even though superheroes are illegal in this world, there are people, powerful people, who want to bring them back into the sunlight. One of them approaches the Parrs, and offers to let them stay in his mansion, and get superheroes legalized again, if they come and work for him. Specifically, if Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl, comes to work for him. See, of all the classic superheroes in this world, she had the best track record when it came to not causing collateral damage, so if they want to convince people supers should be legal, they need to show that they can stop crime without blowing stuff up. So it’s up to Bob, aka Mr. Incredible, to watch the kids. Will he be able to manage? Will Elastigirl help make supers legit again? Well, watch the movie, and find out.

The Incredibles is a very important movie to me. Not only did I love it when it first came out, but I’ve actually grown to appreciate it much more as I’ve gotten older. Because, believe it or not, there is a ton of stuff in it that is super mature, and that simply did not register with my 8-year-old brain. I didn’t know what lawsuits were, or what attempted suicide was. I had no concept of mid-life crises, or adultery. I also didn’t pick up that the movie was a giant homage to 60s spy films. So much stuff in that first flick only became clear to me after I grew up, and, honestly, I think the movie’s become a lot more relevant in recent years. The Incredibles was made before the big superhero boom that started in 2008, and yet, it feels like a response to the MCU. It points out so many cliches and tropes in superhero cinema, and it’s villain, Syndrome, is, in many respects, the perfect analogue for the entitled, mean-spirited fanboys that have become so vocal and prevalent in recent years. What I’m trying to say with all this is, The Incredibles is fantastic, and whenever you have a sequel to a successful film come out 14 years after the original, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s going to be bad. Fortunately, The Incredibles 2 isn’t bad. In fact, it’s quite fun. The animation is superb, far better than the original’s (though that’s just a byproduct of technology improving over time). The music is as jazzy as before. It’s great to see Elastigirl get the chance to shine in the lead role. The believable family dynamics are still there, And the action scenes are amazing. They’re easily the best part of the movie. Basically, this is a fun, exciting movie with a whole lot of what you liked about the first Incredibles. And, odds are, you’ll walk out the theater satisfied.

That said, it’s not as good as the original. And I know that that’s a cliche, to say that a sequel isn’t as good as the original, but there is a reason I say that here. Part of what made the first Incredibles so good was the fact that it was a fresh perspective on the superhero genre. Now, though, after 14 years, we’ve seen every conceivable incarnation of the superhero–from the dark and gritty, to the lighthearted and comedic–and this film doesn’t really have anything new to bring to the discussion. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t really have anything to say about the genre, which is kind of disappointing. On top of this, the film picks up precisely where the last one left off, and yet, characters behave as though they didn’t undergo the arcs they had in the previous flick. Elastigirl still wants her kids to suppress their powers. Mr. Incredible still would rather go off and punch people than spend time with his family. Violet is still insecure around boys, and Dash is still bad at homework. And as if this weren’t bad enough, certain characters, like Dash and Frozone, really don’t get anything to do in this movie. The identity of the villain is also pretty easy to predict, and his/her motivation isn’t nearly as compelling as Syndrome’s from the original. FInally, the movie does a lot of stuff with Jack Jack, the baby of the Parr family who, in the previous flick, was revealed to have multiple powers, and it kind of got on my nerves after a while. They make a big joke out of saying “Oh, he also has this power, and this power, and this power” but it does get to a point where he feels too powerful, and he more or less acts as a deus ex machina. There’s also one scene where he fights a raccoon that totally took me out of the movie. It was so silly, and so inconsistent with the tone that the film had established up to that point that it kind of ruined the movie for me. Now look, I’m probably a minority on this point, since a lot of reviews I’ve read found Jack Jack’s bits to be funny, but I kind of hated them, and they brought the film down for me.  Even so, they aren’t enough for me to tell you to not go see this movie. It’s fun, exciting and the heart is still there. It’s the best Incredibles sequel we could have hoped for after all this time. And, I have to say, I absolutely adored the short film, “Bao” that came before the main movie. If you’re Chinese, or of Chinese descent, like me, you are going to love, and empathize with it, so, so much. It’s great.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, has a problem. His girlfriend is dead, and, thanks to his healing factor, he can’t join her in heaven. Not until his heart is in the right place. But what does that mean? Well, Wade interprets that as a call to protect a young mutant boy, Russell, from the time-traveler Cable, who has journeyed back from the future to assassinate him. And if that sounds like the plot to a Terminator movie, never fear. Deadpool most certainly comments on that fact. So now, the race is on to assemble a new super team, X-Force, and save Russell before it’s too late. Will they do both in time? Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out.

Deadpool 2 is a movie I watched purely on a whim. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original. I mean, I liked it well enough, and I could certainly understand why people appreciated it, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. A little too much profanity, and childish humor, for my taste. Still, the reviews for this film came in, they were good, and I decided to sit down in a movie theater and give Deadpool 2 a try. And, having done so, I found myself walking out rather satisfied.

This movie is more or less exactly what the original was–lots of violence, profanity, and meta-textual humor–but with a bigger budget. A lot more explosions and car chases this time around. Like the last one, there are some jokes that really hit, and some jokes that don’t. Also like the last one, the acting, particularly from Ryan Reynolds, is quite good, though Reynolds does chew the scenery a bit too much for my taste. There’s one moment in particular, which parodies overlong, dramatic death scenes, that I found a bit grating. But, to be fair, that’s entirely a matter of personal taste. As I mentioned in my Death Of Stalin review, comedy is one of the few genres that is truly subjective. If you aren’t into a particular type of humor, you won’t like certain movies. So, for that reason, I can’t really knock Deadpool 2 down for not having jokes that I liked. What I can comment on is the filmmaking, which, for the most part, is solid. As I said, the acting is good, the action is well-staged, with everything being shot in clear, long takes, and the film moves at a brisk enough pace that you’re never bored. I also liked the introduction of new characters into the universe, particularly Domino, who has the power to be lucky, and Yukio, who is Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend. That last fact is actually a pretty big deal, because Yukio and Negasonic are now officially the first openly queer couple in a mainstream blockbuster. That’s huge. I also really like the woman who plays Yukio, Australian actress Shiori Kutsuna, who, fun fact, was in a movie that one of my professors, Shinho Lee, wrote. It’s called While The Women Are Sleeping, and I think you all should check it, and her other work, particularly the Japanese remake of Unforgiven, out. Unfortunately, neither she nor Negasonic are really in the movie for that long. And even though it’s great to see an openly queer Asian woman in a mainstream blockbuster, she’s kind of a Japanese stereotype. She giggles, waves, and the only thing she really gets to say is “Hi Wade” and “bye Wade” throughout the movie. I just hope that in the next film, she gets a little more to do. But my biggest gripe, by far, is the fact that, as impressive as the action is, it’s all so big and frenetic that it gets exhausting after a while. It kind of reminds me of The Last Jedi. If you read my review for that film, you’d know that I liked the movie, but I found all the action in it so big and bombastic that no single beat felt more important or impactful than another. The same principle holds true with Deadpool 2. Virtually every action scene involves an explosion, ten cars flipping over each other, and at least 100 people getting killed. And those are supposed to be the smaller, warm-up beats leading to the big climax.

In the end, though, I do think Deadpool 2‘s strengths outweigh its weaknesses. It’s got good acting, well-filmed action and a brisk pace. Maybe some of the humor doesn’t land, and maybe it could have given Yukio and Negasonic more to do, but those are both matters of personal taste. I do think it’s fun, and definitely worth a watch.

Will Asian-Americans Ever Get A “Black Panther?”

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

So here’s a big question; when, if ever, will Asian-Americans get their own Black Panther? When will we get our big, game-changing blockbuster that celebrates our identity and culture? I don’t know, and, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure we ever will. Let me explain, and, be forewarned, this explanation will contain some history and some math.

There are 21,655,368 Asian Americans in the United States right now. That’s roughly 7% of the population. And within that 7% of the US population, there are countless different ethnicities, religions, languages and histories. There are Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Filipino-AMericans, Hmong, Tibetan, Thai, Laotian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Nepalese and Sri Lankan Americans. And that’s not even considering people whose families are from countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan, which skirt the line between Europe and Asia. My point is, Asian-American is an extremely broad term that encompasses many different, distinct groups. Emphasis on distinct.

There’s never been an Asian-American equivalent to pan-Africanism, W.E.B Dubois’s idea about the unity of all Black people through their connection to Africa. A large part of this, I believe, has to do with the fact that Asian-Americans, for the most part, came to the US voluntarily. We, by and large, know where our ancestors came from, and have maintained a connection to our specific cultures and traditions. There was no system of chattel slavery, cutting us off from our roots, though there have definitely been many Asian peoples brought to the United States against their will throughout our history. As a result, there was no need to create a broad, generalized sense of being Asian that there was with people of African descent. Black Panther is about Wakanda, a fictional African nation that embodies all the best qualities Black people see in Africa, without being an exact representation of any one country. There’s no Asian equivalent to Wakanda, because so many Asian countries, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, have maintained distinct borders and customs, and fought wars with each other, that there’s no real sense of unity between them. An Asian superhero isn’t just broadly Asian. She is a Chinese, or Vietnamese, or Indonesian superhero, and she does not speak for everyone. And this ties into a larger issue, the fact that being Asian-American is not the same thing as being Asian.

Even though there are millions of us in this country, we, as Asian-Americans, still only represent a fairly small section of the US population. As such, Hollywood, which is all about making money, is less likely to target us. What they are far more likely to do is target the countries our parents or grandparents come from, since they have much bigger populations, and represent much bigger box office potential. And so, to appeal to audiences in those countries, they cast local talent. That’s why Hollywood movies are far more likely to tap Chinese actors, like Jing Tian, than Chinese-Americans, like Constance Wu, to be in their blockbusters. And even if they do cast Asian-Americans, that doesn’t mean that it will appeal to mainland Asian audiences. Beauty standards are different in different countries. An actress like Kelly Marie Tran, whom I love, and who is also on the shorter and heavier side, would not be viewed as movie-star material in China, where women are expected to be very thin, very pale, and have very big eyes. So it’s unlikely that Disney or Warner Brothers, who want to make as much money as possible, would pour hundreds of millions of dollars into telling the story of an Asian-American superhero. To them, there’s just not a big enough audience to make all their money back.

Am I happy about any of this? No. Do I want there to be an Asian Black Panther? You bet I do. But, as it is, I don’t see that ever happening. I really hope I’m wrong, though. I hope that our collective community grows to the point where Hollywood sees us, and not our family’s countries of origin, as a viable market. I hope that a spirit of pan-Asianism will spread across this country like wildfire, and unite our disparate ethnicities. I hope that some young writer, or filmmaker, will have the courage to tell their story, and the story of people like them, and that others will respond to that story. I hope.

Underrated Directors Who Should Totally Helm A Blockbuster

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Directors; to many casual film goers, they are the driving force behind all aspects of a movie. And while those of us who actually work in film, writing scripts, editing footage, mixing sound and so on, know that this isn’t true, it is true that directors can have a huge influence on a picture’s look, tone, and style. And that look and style can attract audiences, and make the pictures better as a whole. Now there are certain directors whose look and style have become well known to the public–the Spielbergs, the Burtons, the Tarantinos–but there are others whose talent is clear when you watch their films but, for whatever reason, they and their work have remained out of the spotlight. I’d like to remedy that today. Here is my list of awesome, underrated directors who should totally helm a blockbuster. Why a blockbuster? Because that’s what most people see, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s the only way most of us will ever hear about these artists.

1. Bong Joon-Ho.

  • What They’ve Done: The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Star Wars Movie.

Perhaps the best-known filmmaker on this list, Bong Joon-Ho is one of my all-time favorite directors, and a household name back in his native Korea. And yet, despite all his critical and commercial success in Asia, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Film nerds have probably watched a few of his flicks, but the vast majority of audiences aren’t familiar with his sumptuous visuals, dark humor, sudden shifts in tone, and biting social commentary, all of which make him ideal to helm a Star Wars movie. Just watch The Host, see how he shoots action, writes villainous characters, and uses creature effects, and tell me you couldn’t see him directing an episode in a galaxy far, far away.

2. Jaume Collet-Serra.

  • What They’ve Done: Non-Stop, The Shallows, Orphan.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A MIssion Impossible Movie.

Best known for his many collaborations with Liam Neeson, Spanish director Jaume Collet Serra has a habit of taking silly genre scripts, and turning them into much better films than they have any right to be. Seriously. If you take a hard look at the plots of any of his features–Unknown, Non-Stop, Orphan–they don’t really hold up. But the films themselves are so well-acted, so beautifully shot, and so viscerally entertaining that you don’t really care. Which makes him an ideal match for the Mission Impossible franchise, which, let’s be honest, isn’t  really famous for having the most believable story lines, but whose insane action set pieces more than make up for that. And let’s not forget, several of Collet-Serra’s flicks, like Unknown, have espionage elements to them. So it’s not altogether out of his wheelhouse.

3. Wes Ball.

  • What They’ve Done: The Maze Runner Trilogy.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Fast & Furious Movie.

Say what you like about the Maze Runner films–I, personally, am not a huge fan–they have amazing action sequences. Even these movies’ harshest critics agree that the chases, the fight scenes, and the stunt work are incredible, and that the director, Wes Ball, has a good eye for action. So what better franchise to put him in than the Fast & Furious, which we all can agree is extremely light on story, but very heavy on amazing set pieces? I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Ball could concoct some truly bonkers action scenes, and give this series’ fans the high octane thrills they crave.

4. Mike Flanagan.

  • What They’ve Done: Oculus, Hush, Gerald’s Game.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Batman Movie.

One of this generations true horror masters, Mike Flanagan’s films work, not just because they’re beautifully shot, and possess ghosts and serial killers, but because of their fascinating explorations of their characters’ pasts and psyches. Gerald’s Game and Oculus are all about people revisiting childhood trauma, and trying to work through it. And if there’s one blockbuster franchise that relishes horror, and childhood trauma, it’s Batman. He’s a tormented character, who just can’t let his past go, and several of his rogues, the Joker, Scarecrow, Two Face, are horrifying manifestations of various mental illnesses. So who better to helm a Batman film than a horror master with an interest in dissecting the minds of damaged people? Well, okay, I’m sure there are loads of filmmakers who’d be totally great for Batman, but Mike Flanagan is at the top of my list.

5. Takashi Miike.

  • What They’ve Done: 13 Assassins, Audition, Ichi The Killer.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Predator Movie.

A prolific and controversial director, whose work I’ve written about before, Takashi Miike is perfectly suited for the Predator franchise. Why? Because just like John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, which began as action, and ended as horror, many of Miike’s films blend genres and tones. Several of his features, like Yakuza Apocalypse and Ichi The Killer, synthesize elements of thrillers and horror. Many more, like Fudoh: The New Generation, Blade Of The Immortal, and Terra Formers, include insane, stylized characters with insane, stylized weapons i.e. the exact kind of fighters that the Predators would want to hunt. And, as if this needs mentioning, Miike is superb at crafting creative, bloody fight sequences, which are precisely what this franchise thrives off of.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

When his father Odin dies, Thor’s sister, Hela, the goddess of Death, is released from her prison. And seeing how she’s stronger than every other god, she quickly takes over all of Asgard. Thor himself is banished to a distant planet, Sakaar, where he is forced to fight in gladiator-style battles with none other than the Hulk. Determined to get home, Thor teams up with the jolly green giant, a fellow Asgardian named Valkyrie, and Loki, who was also stranded on Sakaar, and, together, the four start a revolution, return home, and smash a whole lot of CGI stuff.

Remember how I said in my review of Happy Death Day that it was a crowd pleaser? Scratch that. This movie here is a crowd pleaser. It’s big, loud, funny, and completely undemanding. It is a quintessential movie. Now what I mean by that is, motion pictures can generally be clumped into two categories; movies and films. Movies are meant to be enjoyable. You watch them to have fun and kill time. Films, on the other hand, are generally made with more artistic integrity,  and try to talk about more serious issues. That’s not to say that movies can’t be well-written, or that films can’t be enjoyable. But you understand my point. You don’t go into Thor: Ragnarok expecting Oscar-worthy performances or groundbreaking social commentary. You go in expecting big action, light comedy, and colorful, made-up worlds. And you get all that here, so you walk out of the movie feeling happy. I certainly did.

Which is not to suggest that this flick is free of flaws. It actually has quite a few. First of all, the main villain, Hela, is pretty weak. She’s unique in the sense that she’s the MCU’s first female bad guy, but, other than that, she’s not that interesting. She basically has two roles in this movie, provide exposition, and kill people while cackling. Other than that, there’s really nothing to her character. Likewise, the film feels the need to tell us her back-story about four different times; once from Odin, once from Hela herself, once in animated form, and once in flashback. She also isn’t in the movie as much as you’d think. There’s a good 20-minute section in the middle where we don’t see her, or Asgard, at all. Which brings me to my biggest gripe, the fact that this film feels kind of weightless. Even though it’s about the destruction of Asgard, you never really feel like there’s any real danger. Part of this is due to the fact that so much of the film, even the deaths, are played for laughs. Another part is the fact that about 95% of this movie’s action and scenery  are animated, so the threats never feel real. In fact, I wouldn’t even call this a live-action movie. I would call it a cartoon, with bits of live-action thrown in.

All that said, the film is still fun. I’m not a Marvel fan, and I still laughed quite a lot while watching this movie. Which says a lot. So if you want a good time, give it a look.