THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) – Colorful Superhero Adventure is the Best of the Thor Movies

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Thor_Ragnarok_poster

It’s no secret that I love the Marvel superhero movies.

And while I have enjoyed the THOR movies, I’ve preferred the IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA films.  They’ve had more life, and I just haven’t been a fan of the THOR plots which have taken place in the doom and gloom of Asgard, Thor’s home world.

Until now.

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) sheds its seriousness within its first few seconds, and immediately becomes as playful and humorous as a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie.

A lot happens in THOR: RAGNAROK, so the less said about the plot the better.  The very evil Hela (Cate Blanchett), the first-born of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), which makes her Thor’s older sister, sets her sights on conquering Asgard in order to make it her own, and it’s up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to stop her.  But this is a fight that Thor cannot win alone, and so he enlists the aid of the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Heimdall (Idris Elba), his estranged oftentimes evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and even Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The result is an action-packed often hilarious adventure that entertains from start to finish.

The best part of THOR: RAGNAROK is its lively script by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost.  Evidently, the writers were influenced and inspired by the John Carpenter action comedy BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986), a flick that is not among my favorite Carpenter movies, as it’s downright silly at times, but that being said it’s still colorful and entertaining, and it stars Kurt Russell.

Now, I can easily see this influence.  In fact, even before I knew of this connection, while watching the movie, I felt that this THOR film was playing out as if it had been directed by John Carpenter.  And Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in this film reminded me of Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton character in BIG TROUBLE, from the over-the-top dialogue like “because this is what heroes do,” to the moments where the bravado and boasts come back to hit our hero in the face.  In short, it’s fun to see Thor not take himself too seriously.

The dialogue is fun throughout, the situations exciting and comical, and the characters are all well-written and fleshed out.

Also, like most Marvel superhero movies, THOR: RAGNAROK boasts a cast that has no business being in a superhero movie.  The combination of superior acting and strong writing creates both lively characters and compelling situations.

Chris Hemsworth can pretty much play Thor in his sleep these days.  He owns the role. And while previous THOR films haven’t been among my favorite Marvel movies, it’s not because of Hemsworth.  He’s always been excellent as Thor.  And he’s just as good if not better here.  He dials things up a few notches on the humor meter, which isn’t completely surprising, since he’s always given Thor humorous moments. Not only is he funny here, but he’s completely believable as a hero strong enough to tangle with the Hulk.

Speaking of the Hulk, the giant green guy is the “guest Avenger” in this film, and Mark Ruffalo is back once again playing the character.  This time around we see more of the Hulk and much less of his alter ego, Bruce Banner. This is also the first time that Ruffalo is voicing the Hulk.  In previous movies, it’s been Hulk veteran Lou Ferrigno providing the voice.  Ruffalo does just fine, and I actually preferred his voice this time around.

As I said, Tom Hiddleston is back as Loki, Thor’s villainous brother who continually shows up in these Marvel movies like a bad penny.  Now, I’ve never been a fan of Loki in these movies, so it’s saying something about THOR: RAGNAROK that this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed Loki.  Hiddleston seems to be having a good time playing him, and we get to see Loki taking stock of his character, as he joins forces with his brother to take on his evil sister.  It’s fun to see Loki fight for the common good while still not shedding his darker side.

Cate Blanchett is icy cold as Hela.  She’s the first major female villain to appear in one of these Marvel superhero films, and that’s long overdue.  In general, the Marvel movies tend to stumble with their villains, who are usually the weak link in the stories.  Not so here. Blanchett’s Hela is a formidable foe for Thor and friends, and she’s both sexy and evil when she’s on screen.

Even better than Blanchett is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.  Her tough warrior heroine would give Wonder Woman a run for her money.  She was one of my favorite characters in the movie.

Jeff Goldblum chews up the scenery in a scene-stealing performance as the Grandmaster, and his arena of death is right out of a John Carpenter movie.  I half-expected to see Snake Plissken show up.

It was good to see Idris Elba get more significant screen time as Heimdall, and Karl Urban also provides solid support as Skurge, a character who finds himself drafted by Hela to be her local enforcer.

I could keep going, as there are still more solid supporting players here, including Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s father Odin, who’s more enjoyable here in his brief screen time than he was in the previous two movies, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s on hand briefly as Doctor Strange.

Director Taika Waititi has made a colorful, action-packed superhero tale which fits in perfectly with the Marvel universe.  It’s closer in tone to a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie than a THOR movie, but that’s okay.  From its opening scene where Thor battles a giant villain and things don’t go as planned, to Thor’s first meeting with the Hulk and their subsequent banter, it gets the humor right.

The action sequences also do not disappoint.  The battle in the Grandmaster’s arena is a good one, as is the climactic showdown with Hela.

For most of the movie Thor is without his hammer, and he sees this as a disadvantage, and he questions his strength without it, but his father Odin tells him otherwise, which provides Thor with a telling and powerful moment later in the film.

But other than this, there’s not a lot of seriousness here. THOR: RAGNAROK is all fun and games, and this is a good thing.  It’s the perfect Marvel vehicle.

It’s easily the best of the THOR movies.

—END—

 

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MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: PSYCHO (1960)

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Anthony Perkins has some things to say as Norman Bates in PSYCHO (1960)

Anthony Perkins has some things to say as Norman Bates in PSYCHO (1960)

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  PSYCHO (1960)

By

Michael Arruda

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

 

So says Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in PSYCHO (1960), Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece shocker, the film that changed the way people take showers.

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, the column where we look at memorable quotes from the movies.  Today we look at PSYCHO, the classic thriller starring Anthony Perkins as everybody’s favorite cross-dresser and knife-wielding maniac, Norman Bates.  The film also stars Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and John Gavin.

There are a lot of neat quotes in this movie, most of them coming from Perkins’ Bates.  So here are some of the better ones for your reading pleasure, quotes from PSYCHO, screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the book of the same name by Robert Bloch.

Some of my favorite exchanges are between Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates and Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane, after she makes the fateful decision to stop and spend the night at the Bates Motel.  Speaking of which, she should have known immediately that the place was trouble, as soon as she asked Norman her initial question.

MARION CRANE:  Do you have any vacancies?

NORMAN BATES:  Oh, we have twelve vacancies. Twelve cabins, Twelve vacancies.

 Run for the hills!  Run for the hills!

But alas, Marion doesn’t run away.  She spends the night.  Her last night alive, as it turns out.

But before she takes that fateful shower, she accepts Norman’s invitation to join him in his office for a small simple dinner.

NORMAN:  You eat like a bird.

MARION (looks at the stuffed birds in the room):  And you’d know, of course.

NORMAN:  No, not really. Anyway, I hear the expression ‘eats like a bird’ is really a fals-fals-falsity. Because birds really eat a tremendous lot. But  I don’t really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know – taxidermy.

Run for the hills!  Run for the hills!

Just before this dinner get-together, Marion overhears an argument between Norman and his mother up at the main house.

MOTHER:  No! I tell you no! I won’t have you bringing some young girl in for supper! By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap, erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!

NORMAN:  Mother, please…!

MOTHER:  And then what? After supper? Music? Whispers?

NORMAN:  Mother, she’s just a stranger. She’s hungry, and it’s raining out!

MOTHER:  Mother, she’s just a stranger! As if men don’t desire strangers! As if… ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on, go tell her she’ll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with my food… or my son! Or do I have tell her because you don’t have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?

NORMAN:  Shut up! Shut up!

And then later at dinner, Norman tries to explain his mother’s behavior to Marion.

NORMAN:  It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?

Run for the hills!  Run for the hills!

Some of the more intriguing exchanges occur when Marion’s boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin) and sister Lila (Vera Miles) talk to Sheriff Chambers, as they investigate Marion’s disappearance.

SHERIFF:  Your detective told you he couldn’t come right back because he was going to question Norman Bates’ mother. Right?

LILA:  Yes.

SHERIFF:  Norman Bates’ mother has been dead and buried in Greenlawn Cenetery for the past ten years!

SAM:  You mean the old woman I saw tonight wasn’t Bates’ mother?

SHERIFF:  Now wait a minute, Sam, are you sure you saw an old woman?

SAM:   Yes! In the house behind the motel! I called and I pounded, but she just ignored me!

SHERIFF:   You mean to tell me you saw Norman Bates’ mother?

LILA:  It had to be, because Arbogast said so too. And the young man wouldn’t let him see her because she was too ill.

SHERIFF:  Well, if the woman up there is Mrs. Bates… who’s that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?

Who, indeed?

And of course my favorite quote of the entire movie might be its last line, as Norman sits in a prison cell, thinking thoughts in his mother’s voice.

NORMAN (as Mother):  They’re probably watching me.  Well, let them.  Let them see what kind of a person I am.  I’m not even going to swat that fly.  I hope they are watching— they’ll see.  They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly!

 

Well, that’s it for now.  Thanks for joining me on MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, the PSYCHO edition.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For The Love Of Horror cover

Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.