The Morning After: Nov. 13, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Thor: Regnarok

The Marvel Cinematic Universe tried for the largest portion of its existence to be the realm of action adventure comic book fantasy, peppering its projects with humor, but not dousing them in it. After the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, the studio seems to have taken that film to heart. First Ant-Man tried to tackle its subject with more humor than drama, but now that comedy motif has been applied to the wonderful, kooky, and entertaining Thor: Ragnarok.

The God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) began his cinematic existence as a modestly goofy, but proud and aggressive warrior god, much like he has often been depicted in the comics. After two films plus the Avengers properties, Thor has been seen as an occasionally wise-cracking, but generally serious character. Perhaps it was the success of Ghostbusters that helped people realize just how genuinely funny he is, but the end result is a film that is dripping with sarcastic delight and jocular intensity while taking an incredibly dramatic set of events and pushing forward with the passion of a great love affair.

And love is precisely what we feel coming out of Thor: Ragnarok. Tremendous actors like Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, and Tessa Thompson commit so fully to their characters and the sometimes snarky, sometimes deadly serious, that the film feels more authentic and engaging than many of the other films so far released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The effects, performances, and even narrative are a supremely satisfying combination. While the rest of the MCU seems mired in its own self-importance, director Taika Waititi knows that the audience not only wants to adore these characters, but wants to feel invested in their success and failure.

The film tackles numerous thematic elements, each given sufficient time to breathe and expand as the viewer is transported into a realistic and compelling world that has only superficially been explored in prior films. While more Marvel movies should consider adopting a similar style, it’s also crucial to tackle the kinds of heady topics that seem destined for exposure in the upcoming Black Panther film. If the MCU can successfully thread the needle between the serious issue films and the exuberant spectacles like Thor: ragnarok, it’s possible that they could refresh their slowly fading universe.

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