Archive for The Avengers

Countdown to Avengers 3: Thor Ragnarok review

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on April 19, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely. If you want to check out my last review in this series, it was for Captain America: Civil War. Now, let’s turn to my next review, Thor Ragnarok.

Like last time, let’s start off with my quick takes on the first two Thor movies.  First off, I read comics in the 80s and 90s.  I never really liked Thor as a character.  He just never honestly seemed to click with me.  That being said, I really like that first movie.  There’s not really a lot going on, but Hemsworth is great as Thor.  Hiddlesworth is good as Loki (he doesn’t become *great* until Avengers).  Portman is good as Jane and Kat Dennings is almost a show stealer as Darcy.  It’s fun to see Hemsworth playing “fish out of water” on Earth but we get precious little of Asgard.  The movie is mostly enjoyable and a good intro to MCU Thor.  If nothing else, the movie got me reading the Thor comics right about the time Jason Aaron started writing them and *that* has made me a huge fan of Thor.  Check out my full review of Thor for the very first Countdown to Avengers back in 2012.

thor_movies

Thor: The Dark World has its flaws.  It tries to do too much and in the process squanders one of Thor’s best villains, Malekith the Accursed.  Hemsworth is still great as Thor.  We see Hiddleston in his post-Avengers awesomeness.  Portman is a problem and obviously doesn’t really even want to be there.  Kat Dennings brings more Darcy and she’s a delight.  There’s a lot more humor in this movie than I remember whenever I see it, but ultimately the movie is cluttered, hard to follow and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  So while I was okay with the Thor movies they had put out so far, I was ready for them to try something new.  This Thor has lots of potential as he’s great in the team up movies, but his solo efforts have been only okay.

When announcements started coming out about Thor Raganarok it was clear they were going in a different direction.  A New Zealand director, Cate Blanchett as the villain, a bright color palate and a humorous tone that seemed to have been clearly inspired by the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.  I was okay with all of this.  Chris Hemsworth has proven he can be funny.  He has the timing.  And Thor can be funny.  The aforementioned Jason Aaron’s run on Thor is infused with lots of humor and takes Thor in a more cosmic direction which it looks like this movie wants to do.  So I was all on board with what they were trying to do.  And that first trailer just ROCKED.

thor-ragnarok-3

The movie 100% delivers.  They *nailed* the tone perfectly for me.  I know many people said there was too much humor, but I don’t agree.  The humor was great and *everyone* got to have their moments.  Not just Thor.  Hulk was funny, Valkyrie, Loki, hell, a brand new character, Korg, practically stole the movie.  I loved every bit of this lightened up Thor.

Loki returns and is awesome once again.  We even get some really nice scenes between on screen brothers, Thor and Loki.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston really work well together.  I’ll be sad if/when this particular pairing ends.

What about the big bad, Hela?  She is as awesome as I wanted her to be.  Cate is the best anyway, so to see her really chew up the scenery here I loved it.  Actually, I could have done with *more* Hela.  Like, this movie maybe could have been split into two movies, with the Grandmaster/Hulk parts in one movie and the Hela parts in another.  But that’s a minor quibble.  We get so much awesomeness throughout this movie….The Grandmaster!  What can I say about how awesomely weird Jeff Goldblum is as Grandmaster?  So good.  And I like *this* Hulk.  He can talk and have a bit of a conversation.  And he’s funny.  I can’t say enough how on point I think the tone of this movie was.  I think I liked it better than the Guardians movies.

Wrapping up the movie, we see the Asgardians leaving to start New Asgard.  Thor is king and ready to lead his people, sans hammer.  I’m hoping we get to see Thor wield his battle axe, Jarnbjorn, in Infinity War.  Even if only for a little bit.  Loki has made off with the cosmic cube again and it looks like Thor may be the first hero to actually have an interaction with Thanos, or Thanos’ people.  I can’t wait to see this Thor meet up with the Guardians.  So much fun potential coming up in Infinity War.  I can’t wait.

But I’m not the only one who had thoughts on this movie. Here are some quick thoughts from CT:

This movie was for Thor and Hulk what Civil War was for the rest of the MCU characters (sans GotG). It further alters the status quo and makes big shocking changes for Thor that will have to affect him in some way moving forward.

If this movie did anything wrong, it was how it wiped out the Warriors Three so effortlessly. It would have been nice to see them get a few more moments to shine. Hopefully Lady Sif’s absence means she’s still out there able to play a role in a future MCU installment someday.

Hulk finally advances to a level I’ve always wanted to see on screen–that of the talking brute who doesn’t want to become Banner. The TV show and previous movies have made a point of playing up that Banner doesn’t want to be the Hulk, but until now, we’ve really not seen that Hulk doesn’t want to be Banner.

Loki promises to be a big player in Infinity War having clearly saved the Cosmic Cube. This movie ends with a clear set up for an early encounter between Thanos and New Asgard. Hopefully these refugees don’t have worse luck after this meeting with the Mad Titan.

Advertisements

Countdown to Avengers 3: Captain America: Civil War review

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on April 6, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely.

For now, let’s talk about what I came here to talk about…Captain America: Civil War.

Quickly, before we start, my hot take on the first two Captain America movies. The first one is a good, but not outstanding origin movie with lots of great performances including Evans, Atwell, and Weaving. I liked the movie more than I expected and I liked Chris Evans as Cap a *lot* more than I expected. Winter Soldier was a game changer not only for the MCU but for this version of Cap as well. We see Cap in a modern movie kicking all kinds of ass and being awesome. We also get the introduction of two more awesome characters in the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. And while the movie is a great action movie, the political intrigue subplot is well played out as well. The Winter Soldier movie was an eye opener and made Chris Evans’ Cap my new favorite MCU hero over Iron Man.

Fast forward to Civil War. Some may even call it Avengers 2.5. The Avengers taking sides over the fate of Winter Soldier. The first appearance of several new characters. I was pretty excited to see it going into it. And it more than delivers. As these movies have gone on, especially the Avengers movies, I think one of my favorite parts are the cold openings. Usually we see the group in the middle of some mission, working together, bantering, being “The Avengers”. The teamwork and dialogue in these scenes are so fun and I love it. Civil War doesn’t disappoint. It opens with the current Avengers, plus Wanda and minus Tony, in Lagos trying to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon. We get to see everyone in action, Falcon has Red Wing who gets to shine in battle. Lots of really fun stuff here. Then the drama starts with the thrust of the plot and the entrance (and return!) of General Thunderbolt Ross (shout out to The Incredible Hulk movie!).

The crux of the plot makes sense.  Honestly, even the split of the heroes makes sense to me, each hero going where their natural proclivities lie.  I love the return of Clint.  I know his character gets a lot of crap from fans, but you know what, I like Renner and I like his portrayal of Hawkeye.  How we haven’t gotten a Black Widow/Hawkeye team up movie is beyond me.  We also get the appearance of Scott Lang from Ant-Man (which CT reviewed a little while ago) and he’s great in several *almost* show stealing scenes (Giant Man!).  They continue to build out Winter Soldier’s character.  He gets better and more interesting every single movie he’s in.  And if I don’t get a Winter Soldier/Falcon buddy movie at some point, we will have words, Marvel.

There’s so much to unpack I’m not sure where I want to go next. How about the debut of Black Panther? I’ve read comics since the mid-80s, I’ve never really read Black Panther but this particular iteration of him made me a fan and the Black Panther solo movie further cemented that. The debut of the new Spider-Man? Amazing (pun intended). Tom Holland *nails* Peter Parker. And he *nails* Spider-Man in the suit. Again, the Spider-Man solo movie cemented *that* even further. There’s not much I don’t really like about this movie. The action set pieces are drop dead gorgeous. When Cap goes to confront Bucky while special forces are busting down the door to his apartment…fantastic. Perfectly staged. And the Berlin airport sequence? I don’t need to expend any more words describing how awesome that whole sequence is.

So I said there isn’t really anything I don’t like about this movie.  Let me amend that a bit.  I feel like, and this has been a progression since Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is more and more becoming a crazy asshole.  I mean, I know he was always an asshole but his heart was in the right place and he was still lovable.  Continuing that progression here, he seems to go off the deep end a bit with these Sekovia Accords.  He acts like if the team had been under oversight from the beginning, then the people who died in New York, Sekovia and Lagos would have been saved.  Like, if the UN had oversight over the Avengers, then that kid building sustainable housing in Sekovia (Alfre Woodard’s son) during the Ultron incident wouldn’t have died.  I posit that if the UN had been involved that not only would he most likely still have died, probably millions more would have died as well.  But I also get this progression as ever since New York, Tony has been on edge with PTSD, then he created Ultron, causing all that death and destruction.  I totally get why he’s overcorrecting here.  But it just makes me love it more when he goes to Russia to bury the hatchet with Cap, and then it completely breaks my heart when he sees the video of his parents getting killed and it starts all over.  Such a powerful ending to this movie that I really hope when we get to the next Avengers movie that these issues are addressed in some form.  I don’t want these things to be brushed aside easily.  They really need to address the ending of this movie HARD (they don’t at all in Spider-Man: Homecoming or Black Panther).

So, as it stands, this is very nearly my favorite MCU movie to date.  And that’s a loaded statement because this movie lives on the backs of almost the entire 10 years of history of the MCU to date.  But that’s what makes it so special.

But I wasn’t the only one with thoughts on this movie, here are some final thoughts by CT:

That 14 minute airport fight was something I had waited my entire life to see. Super heroes are notorious for fighting amongst themselves in the comics. And we got a few seconds of an Iron vs. Thor battle in the first Avengers, but here we have two teams, each at “Avengers-level,” facing off. Not only that, to see Giant-Man make his debut here was a nice added touch.
 
While I’m “Team Cap,” if it were real life, I think I’d be Team Stark. The beauty of this movie is the debate between the two is one worth having. The downfall is that the discourse breaks down quickly and devolves into fighting. Hey! Just like the internet!
 
It was also great to see William Hurt’s Ross again which again confirms the Ed Norton movie is a part of this. A fact that some Marvel fans need to be reminded of. Yes, it would have been great to have Ruffalo retroactively in that film, but recasting is a part of life (see also War Machine).
 
This is an MCU-changing film drastically affecting the status quo and leaving things in an interesting place for Infinity War. The family has been shattered. Now they have to work past everything again to take on Thanos.

Movie Board: My Favorite Movies of 2012

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Paxton

Movie Board

This will be the first year that I don’t actually have a physical “white board” in which I wrote down all of the movies I saw this past year.  My movie list is kept all digital now with Google Spreadsheets (like my book list).  So, it’s sad, but for the most part I think I’m retiring my literal “white board”.  Who knows, maybe I’ll bring it back.  We’ll see.  To see previous years’ picks, click the image above.

Anyway, I combed through my movie log and picked 5 of my favorite movies released in 2012.  Notice I’m not saying “best”.  That is so subjective, I’m just telling you my “favorite” movies of 2012, in no particular order.


Marvel’s The Avengers – Who am I kidding? This is my favorite movie of the year. It’s probably the greatest movie ever filmed.  I can’t add anything more to what’s already been said.  You’ve seen it or you are in a coma.  And I’m sorry for you coma people because you’re missing the best movie ever made.


Django Unchained – Just got a showing of this movie in under the wire and HOLY SHEEEEE-IT, it’s amazing. I think I like this one even better than Inglourious Basterds.  Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio are the reasons to see this movie, but I don’t mean to discount Jamie Foxx or Samuel L Jackson.  This is one well acted, well written movie and…IT’S A WESTERN!  Yes, maybe this will cause Hollywood to try it’s hand at more of them.  However, I am concerned that Disney’s The Lone Ranger may kill that notion, quick.  But I hope not.


Skyfall – Is this the best Bond film of all time? No, it’s not. However, it’s probably the best Craig Bond film. For me, right now, it ranks up there, possibly in the top 5 of all time Bond movies. We’ll see, though, time will tell if that holds up.  Fantastic movie.

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes of the Nerd Lunch Podcast Avengers Extravaganza

Posted in podcast with tags , , , , on May 18, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

In episode 36 of the Nerd Lunch podcast, CT traveled to Jacksonville to see the movie with me, then we recorded our part of the podcast in my dining room. Here are some behind the scenes shots of us recording the episode.

Avengers podcast 1
Showing our enthusiasm for The Avengers.

Avengers podcast 2
Dissecting the finer points of the movie, like Black Widow’s ass and Hulk smashing.

Avengers podcast 3
Laughing at the pathetic souls on the Internet that didn’t like The Avengers.

Avengers podcast 4
This is CT demonstrating what he’s going to do to anyone that tries to tell him The Avengers sucked.

That’s essentially a “peek behind the curtain” of the machine that is the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

Nerd Lunch Episode 36: Marvel’s The Avengers Extravaganza

Posted in comic books, movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 36 has gone live in what is probably the fastest turn around we’ve ever accomplished between recording, editing and posting. Much luv to CT for that. *pats chest with two fingers gangsta-style*

So anyway, I’m pretty sure we teased our Muppet episode this week, but with the smash success of The Avengers, we felt it was more appropriate to air this episode instead and air the Muppet episode with Shawn Robare next week. Sorry to bump you, Shawn, but…Avengers…am I right?


Avengers Forever by John Byrne (Via Comic Vine)

This is a very special “roadtrip” episode of Nerd Lunch. CT travels to Jacksonville to see The Avengers with me and Jeeg travels to southern Illinois to visit the mysterious “third” Nerd Lunch-er, PLee. CT and I record live in the Cavalcade headquarters and Jeeg and PLee record live on their end and the episode cuts back and forth between our conversations as we talk about our reactions to the movie and our thoughts on the entire Marvel movie franchise.

Did the movie live up to our VERY high expectations? Did the fact that Banner was Ruffalo instead of Norton bother us? Will we ever be the same?  Download the episode and find out.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

Countdown to Avengers: A look at The Avengers collectible soda cans

Posted in comic books, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, movies, soda with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Countdown to Avengers is a blog crossover between Nerd Lunch, To The Escape Hatch and the Cavalcade of Awesome. Together we are reviewing all of the solo Avengers movies as well as some of the comics and cartoons. It’s all leading up to the release of The Avengers on May 4 where we will all review the new movie.

The Avengers

So, by this point we have talked about our thoughts on most, if not all, of the movies that lead up to The Avengers.  Now,  I want to look at some of the ancillary promotions for The Avengers.  I’m “the soda guy” of the group so I’m a complete sucker for any big pop culture movie/soda promotion (see my write ups on Star Wars soda promotions herehere and here).  So today, I’m going to discuss the big Marvel soda promotions that have happened from all of the Marvel movies including Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and the upcoming The Avengers.  Unfortunately, there were no soda promotions for the original Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk in 2008.  So, let’s start with the current Avengers promotion going on with Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper Avengers 24 pack Dr Pepper Assemble the Team promotion

Currently, Dr Pepper has a promotion called “Assemble the Team”.  The promotional packaging is starting to show up en mass at retail locations everywhere.  The promotion consists of 8 collector cans featuring the principles of The Avengers (Nick Fury, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hulk) as well as one can featuring the film’s villain (Loki).  Here’s an official picture of the set.

Avengers can set

The promotion is spread among the four main Dr Pepper brands.  The character/brand breakdown (as shown in the right image above, click to make bigger) looks like this:

Dr Pepper – Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor
Diet Dr Pepper – Hawkeye, Black Widow
Dr Pepper Cherry – Nick Fury
Diet Dr Pepper Cherry – Loki

Continue reading

Countdown to Avengers: Thor (2011)

Posted in comic books, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by Paxton

Countdown to Avengers is a blog crossover between Nerd Lunch, To The Escape Hatch and the Cavalcade of Awesome.  Together we are reviewing all of the solo Avengers movies as well as some of the comics and cartoons.  It’s all leading up to the release of The Avengers on May 4 where we will all review the new movie.

So, today my assignment for the countdown is to review the movie Thor.  Directed by Kenneth Brannaugh and starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Tom Hiddleston and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Thor
(Via Die Screaming)

My Review:
For this review, this was my second viewing of the movie and the first time I’d seen it since watching it in theaters when it was released in May 2011. To back up a bit, my background with Thor is pretty close to nil.  I was not ever a Thor reader.  I have a few of his issues from the 80s/90s, but mostly when he had co-stars I cared about like Hulk or The Fantastic Four.  I also vividly remember his terrible, terrible Incredible Hulk TV movie appearance.  So, needless to say, I’m not really a fan.  That being said, if they had decided to play fast and loose with Thor’s history, I really wouldn’t know any different and I would welcome it.  I just wanted the movie to have an interesting and engaging story with some really nice visuals.  Did it deliver?

When I saw this movie in the theater, I thought it was okay, I enjoyed it and thought the effects were awesome.  I think I was more excited about the Hawkeye cameo than I was about the rest of the movie.  When I watched it this second time, I focused more on Hemsworth as Thor and Portman as Jane.  They were great.  Hemsworth especially as the prideful Thor in the beginning is truly great.  And how awesome is Anthony Hopkins as Odin?  All the Asgard stuff was really good as are the machinations of Loki back in Asgard.  I actually believe Hopkins as Odin is truly disappointed and mad at Thor when he casts him out of the realm to Earth.  I jokingly quote some of Hopkins’ speech to my son. “..I CAST YOU OUT!!”

Continue reading