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October 28th, 2018 Movie – Avengers: Infinity War

avengers infinity war

This is it. This is the movie that has been 6 years in build up and anticipation. Ever since Thanos first appeared in the post credits of The Avengers, this is the movie that everyone knew was going to happen. Now I have to admit that while I was always a comic book reader back in the day, the Infinity Gauntlet story line was the one that really got me into some hardcore collecting back then. I mean, this was a three year story arc that was spread out over dozens of titles, not including the main 6 issue mini-series for the main story arcs, and that was an awful lot of comics to be buying. So I was really curious to see how they were going to be translating this movie onto the big screen. Surprisingly, I did not rush out to watch this opening weekend but would wait a few weeks before I went to see it in theaters but I bought it almost immediately after it came out on video. Now, let’s get our hearts ripped ut once again with today’s movie, Avengers: Infinity War.

The plot: Out in space, the Asgardian refugee ship has come under attack by Thanos’ flagship. Thanos teleports on board with his acolytes (Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive) and they kill all of the Asgardians and wound Heimdall. Loki is left alone and he watches as Thanos grabs Thor and reveals that he has the Power Stone, which he had taken from Xandar. Thanos approaches Loki and demands that he turn over the Tesseract or else he will kill Thor and Loki tells him to kill Thor but as Thanos proceeds to blast him, Loki relents and reveals the Tesseract and moves to give it to Thanos, only to pull it back and rescue Thor as the Hulk leaps out and attacks Thanos. Obsedian goes to help Thanos but Maw holds him back as Thanos, using the Power Stone, is able to overpower the Hulk and beat him down. Heimdall uses his sword to summon the Bifrost to transport Hulk back to Earth to warn them of Thanos’ coming and Thanos kills him for that. Trapping Thor within some wreckage of the ship, Thanos breaks the Tesseract to reveal the Space Stone within it and places it in his gauntlet. He then orders his acolytes to go to Earth to retrieve the two stones that are there, then bring them back to him on Titan. Loki volunteers to help them on Earth but as he approaches Thanos, he tries to stab him only for Thanos to stop the attack and break Loki’s neck, dropping the body in front of Thor. Thanos then uses the stones to destroy the ship and teleport himself and his acolytes back to their ship and, with his bonds broken, Thor crawls over to Loki’s body just before the ship explodes. On Earth, Dr. Stephen Strange and Wong are discussing getting lunch when the Hulk is dropped through the ceiling of the Sanctum and as he transforms back into Banner, he tells them Thanos is coming. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are walking in Central Park when Strange appears before them and says he needs his help, bringing Bruce with him to prove the seriousness of the situation. Stark goes with them back to the Sanctum, where Strange and Wong explain the history of the Infinity Stones to Stark, and how they are the protectors of the Time Stone. When Banner says that they have to find Vision, Stark admits that Vision has turned off his transponder and been missing for 2 weeks. He says that Steve Rogers might be able to find him and when Banner says to call him, Stark tells him that they are no longer speaking and about the Avengers breaking up. Banner tells Stark that Thor is dead and Stark reluctantly pulls out the phone that Steve had given him when they notice something happening outside, only to find a giant spaceship has appeared over the city. Peter Parker is on a field trip with his class when he sees the spaceship and while his classmates are all staring at it, he quickly changes into his Spider-Man costume and goes back to the city. Maw and Obsidian appear on the street and demand the Time Stone and Stark, Strange, and Wong prepare to face them but when Banner tries to change into the Hulk, he refuses to come out so Strange teleports him away to safety. Stark ends up facing Obsidian, with Peter arriving to help him while Strange and Maw face Maw. Maw easily knocks Wong aside and manages to capture Strange but finds Strange has placed a protective enchantment on the Eye of Agamotto, which holds the Time Stone, preventing him from grabbing it. As Maw attempts to leave with Strange, his Cloak of Levitation flies him away and as they pass by the battle with Obsidian, Stark tells Peter to help him. Peter attempts to rescue Strange but Strange ends up being beamed aboard Maw’s ship, with Peter clinging to the side of it. Stark tries to get away from Obsidian to help Peter, with Wong teleporting Obsidian to another part of Earth so he can do so, and as he flies after the ship, he orders his computer, Friday, to activate a set of armor. The ship rises above the atmosphere and Peter starts to pass out when the armor attaches itself to him, becoming a nanotech version of his spider suit, and Stark orders Friday to send him home while he breaks inside the ship but Peter manages to stay on the ship and sneaks inside as well. Back on Earth, Wong returns to the Sanctum to guard it while Bruce picks up the flip-phone that Stark had dropped and calls Steve. Out in Space, the Guardians of the Galaxy had heard the Asgardian distress call and go to help only to find the wreckage and bodies scattered in space. Thor’s body lands on their ship and when they see he is still alive, they bring him on board, where Mantis revives him. Thor tells them what happened and says that Thanos will be going to Knowhere next, as that is where the Reality Stone is being held. When they ask why he will be going there next, Thor says that Thanos has the Power and Space stones, the Time and Mind stones are safe on Earth with the Avengers, and nobody knows where the Soul Stone is (which causes Gamora to get a sad look on her face). Thor then says he needs to borrow their scout ship so he can go to Nidavellir, so he can have Eitri the Dwarf make a new weapon so he can kill Thanos. Rocket agrees to go with Thor, telling Groot to come with them, leaving the others to go to Knowhere to stop Thanos from getting the stone. Back on Earth, Vision is in Scotland with Wanda Maximoff, as they have secretly been seeing each other for 2 years. As they walk along the city, Vision asks Wanda to stay with him when they see the news footage about the events in New York. Suddenly, they are attacked by Midnight and Glaive and they try to fend them off but find themselves outmatched but before they can finish off Wanda and retrieve the Mind Stone, Steve shows up, along with Sam Wilson and Natasha Romanoff. The three manage to wound Glaive so Midnight teleports them away and Steve helps Vision onto their ship and tells Sam to take them home. Back in space, Gamora remembers her first meeting with Thanos, where he had slaughtered half of her people, including her mother, then adopted her. When Peter Quill approaches her, she asks him to kill her if Thanos looks like he is going to win, as she knows something that Thanos can never find out, and Quill reluctantly agrees to do so and Gamora kisses him. The group arrives at Knowhere and find the place is deserted but as they make their way to the Collector’s room, they find Thanos questioning the Collector about the Reality Stone’s whereabouts. Seeing Thanos, Drax wants to attack him in revenge for his family and when he doesn’t listen to reason, Mantis puts him to sleep. Gamora attacks Thanos and seemingly kills him but as she breaks down in tears over killing her adopted father, Thanos reveals that he already has the Reality Stone and had used it to make a false reality. Thanos grabs Gamora, then uses the Stone to tear apart Drax and Mantis, leaving only Quill to face him. Gamora reminds Quill of his promise and he reluctantly points his gun at her, with Thanos taunting him over it, and after they both admit their love for each other, he pulls the trigger only for bubbles to come out of his gun. Thanos smiles, telling Quill he likes him, then disappears with Gamora, leaving Quill with the restored Drax and Mantis on the ruins of Knowhere. Back on Earth, Rogers and the fugitive Avengers return to Avengers HQ, interupting a meeting that James Rhodes is having with Secretary of State Ross. After Rhodes shuts off the meeting, disobeying Ross’ orders to arrest them, he greets Steve and the others. Steve and Natasha are surprised to see that Banner is there and after he tells them what is going on, he asks about Clint and is told that both he and Scott Lang had signed deals to protect their families. Vision tells them that they need to destroy the Mind Stone as it is the only way to ensure Thanos doesn’t succeed in his plan but Wanda refuses to do it. Bruce suggests finding a way to remove the Stone without killing Vision and Steve says there is only one place where they have a chance of doing that. In Wakanda, T’Challa and Okoye are discussing their resources for the upcoming fight, with T’Challa saying they should send a message to M’Baku and the Jabari for help, as they approach Bucky BArnes and give him a new cybernetic arm to use in the fight. Back in space, Maw is torturing Strange to try and force him to give him the Time Stone. Stark discovers that Peter had stowed away and is upset with him for not listening but agrees to let him help him rescue Strange. Stark blasts a hole in the side of the ship, sucking Maw out into space while Peter, and the Cloak of Levitation, rescue Strange. Strange wants to turn the ship around and return to Earth but Stark refuses, as he wants to take the fight to Thanos rather than let him do any more damage to Earth. After arguing for a bit, Strange relents but warns Stark he will let him and Peter die in order to protect the Time Stone and Stark says he is ok with that, then tells Peter that he is an Avenger now. On Thanos’ flagship, Thanos and Gamora argue about his plans and how he wants to right the cosmic imbalance he sees. He then says he knows she lied about not finding the Soul Stone and takes her into a room, where Gamora sees Nebula has been captured and pulled apart while still alive. Thanos begins torturing Nebula and Gamora tries to lie but when he accesses Nebula’s memory banks and plays a file showing that Gamora had found the map and burned it, she reluctantly tells Thanos where the Soul Stone is in order to spare Nebula. Elsewhere, Thor, Rocket, and Groot continue towards Nidavellir and, after Rocket talks with Thor and gives him a cybernetic eye to replace his missing one, they arrive only to find the massive forge has gone cold. Heading inside, they find the place empty and Rocket sees a mold for a Gauntlet similar to Thanos’, just before they are attacked by Eitri. Thor gets him to stop attacking them and Eitir blames Thor for not protecting them but when Thor tells him that Asgard has been destroyed, Eitri says that he made the gauntlet in order to save his people, but Thanos killed them anyways, then poured the molted metal over his hands, ruining them. Back on Thanos’ ship, one of Thanos’ soldiers works on repairing Nebula only for her to kill him, then send a message to Mantis telling her to have the Guardians meet her on Titan. Stark, Strange, and Peter crash land on Titan, only to be attacked by the Guardians, who mistake them for working with Thanos but after a brief standoff, the Guardians realize that they are the people Thor was talking about. Knowing that Thanos will be coming to them, Stark tries to come up with a plan, arguing about it with Quill when the Guardians seem uninterested. They notice Strange doing something and as the approach him, he tells them that he had been using the Time Stone to look through future outcomes of their fight with Thanos and of the over 14 million futures he looked through, there was only one in which Thanos loses. Meanwhile, Thanos and Nebula arrive on Vormir and are confronted by the Red Skull, who is the Keeper of the Soul Stone. The Red Skull tells them that in order to obtain the Soul Stone, he must sacrifice what he loves most. Gamora laughs, saying that Thanos doesn’t love anything, but the Red Skull says that isn’t true, and Gamora realizes that Thanos did love her as a daughter. Gamora tries to kill herself but Thanos wills the knife away, then throws Gamora off the cliff to her death and as he sheds tears for her death, he is given the Soul Stone. Back on Earth, The Avengers arrive in Wakanda and are greeted by T’Challa, Okoye, and Bucky and as they take Vision into Shuri’s lab, she says she should be able to remove the stone but it will take time. The Acolyte’s ship arrives and sends a landing party outside the country’s borders and while Steve tells Wanda to blow up the Stone as soon as it is removed from Vision, T’Challa marshals his army and tells them to bring Steve a shield. Back on Nidavellir, Eitri explains that there was a weapon called Stormbreaker that was to become Thor’s when he became King and it would be strong enough to kill Thanos but with the rings frozen, he won’t be able to forge it. Thor has Rocket help him restart the rings and when the mechanism fails, he holds it open long enough for the metal to heat, but passes out from the pain and Rocket saves him and brings him back to the forge. Eitri manages to pour the molten metal into the mold, then looks for the handle, as the axe is the only thing that can save Thor’s life. Groot uses his own arm to form a handle for the axe, then breaks it off and as it clatters to the floor, Thor’s fingers start sparking with electricity as the axe moves towards him. Back on Earth, the Avengers, with Bruce wearing Stark’s Hulkbuster armor, stand beside the Wakandan army and watch as the landing craft descend. Steve, T’Challa, and Natasha approach the barrier to speak with Obsidian and Midnight and when Natasha asks about Glaive, Midnight says they will pay for his life. Midnight summons her amry of creatures to attack the barrier and the creatures kill themselves forcing their way through, with the Wakandans picking off the stragglers. When the creatures move to flank them, T’Challa orders a section of the barrier to be opened, then he leads his army forward to face the creatures, with the Avengers joining in. The Avengers and Wakandans try to hold off the creatures so Shuri can finish removing the Mind Stone but they find themselves being overwhelmed when Thor suddenly appears with Rocket and Groot and they join the fight. On Titan, Thanos arrives to find Strange waiting for him and they talk briefly, with Thanos explaining his plans but Strange was merely a distraction as Stark pushes one of Titan’s destroyed satellites onto Thanos. Quill, Drax, Peter, Strange, and Mantis join in the fight as they try to take the gauntlet from Thanos. As Thanos appears to get the upper hand, Nebula appears and distracts him long enough for Mantis to try and put him to sleep. As she struggles with Thanos, Drax and Strange hold him down while Peter and Stark try to take the gauntlet off of him. Quill asks Thanos about Gamora and when Mantis says he is mourning, Nebula realizes Gamora is dead and an enraged Quill begins hitting Thanos in the face. When Stark tries to calm Quill down, Thanos recovers and is able to send everyone flying then knock out Mantis, Drax, Quill, and Nebula, leaving Peter, Stark, and Strange to fight him. Back on Earth, the battle continues and when Midnight summons some war machines onto the field, Wanda leaves the lab to help her friends and Midnight, seeing her on the field, contacts Glaive and tells him to make his move. Glaive, who had managed to sneak into the palace, kills the guards and knocks out Shuri but Vision grabs him and shoves him out the window, falling out as well. Falcoln sees what is happening and tells Steve, who yells out for someone to help Vision. Banner shows up and ends up fighting with Obsidian and when he tries to summon the Hulk again, Hulk still refuses so Banner is able to kill Obsidian by using the Hulkbuster armor to send him into the barrier, killing him, then says that he and Hulk have a lot to figure out. Wando goes to help Vision but is knocked down by Midnight and as Natasha and Okoye fight with her, Wanda recovers and uses her powers to send Midnight into the path of the war machines. Steve reaches Vision’s side and fights with Glaive, telling Vision to get out of there, but as Glaive overpowers Steve, Vision stabs him with his own spear. Back on Titan, Thanos is able to overpower Stark and the others, stabbing Stark with his own armor, and as he moves to finish him, Strange offers him the Time Stone in exchange for Stark’s life. Thanos takes the Stone and as Quill recovers and fires at him, he teleports away. Stark asks Strange why he did that and Strange tells him that they are in the end game now. Back on Earth, the Avengers and Wakandans are winning the battle when Thanos appears on Earth. Steve and the Avengers work on fighting him but he is easily able to overpower them so Vision tells Wanda to destroy the Stone. Wanda manages to do so but Thanos uses the Time Stone to turn back time, then grabs the Mind Stone from Vision’s head, killing him. As Thanos places the Stone in the gauntlet, Thor attacks him and manages to stab him in the chest with Stormbreaker, but Thanos tells him he should have aimed for his head, then snaps his fingers, causing a massive flash of light to appear. When it subsides, Thor asks Thanos what he did, as Thanos stares at the damaged gauntlet before teleporting away. As Steve asks where he went, Bucky calls out to him before he disintegrates, as does T’Challa, Wanda, Groot, Sam, and many of the Wakandans. On Titan, Stark and everyone regroup when Mantis senses something has happened just before she disintegrates. Drax and Quill disintegrate and Strange tells Stark it was the only way, just before he and Peter disintegrate, leaving Stark and Nebula the only two left on Titan. As the heroes left on Earth try to come to terms with what has happened, Thanos is seen on a distant world, recovering from the injury he received from Thor. In New York City, Nick Fury and Maria Hill are driving when they see vehicles crashing as their drivers are disintegrating. As Maria disintegrates, Nick races to his bag and grabs a special pager from his bag and sends out a signal just before he disintegrates and the pager falls to the ground, with a star atop a red and blue background showing on the screen.

Avengers: Infinity War met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.” Tom Holland was not allowed to read the script for this movie, since he revealed too many secrets for Spider-Man: Homecoming. In one of the promotional videos for the movie, several of its cast members are in an interrogation room refusing to reveal any spoilers, and Holland’s mouth is conspicuously taped shut.The movie was a box office success, earning $2.05 billion off of a $400 million budget, making it the 4th movie to break the $2 billion mark and the first superhero movie to do so while breaking several other box office records in the process.

As much as I hate to say it, perhaps there is some truth to the old saying that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This was a great movie to watch but because there was so much going on, I feel like they weren’t able to give it quite the justice it deserved. The acting was great, with everyone doing great jobs reprising their roles from the previous movies. I really liked the interactions some of the characters had with characters from different movies, such as Thor with the Guardians or Stark with Dr. Strange as well as his interactions with Quill, Drax, and Mantis. The story was pretty good in the way it explained Thanos’ motivation for wanting to find the Infinity Stones. It also did a good job in explaining how the different heroes managed to come together to fight Thanos and his acolytes, and how some of the Earth heroes ended up fighting Thanos in space Rocket and Groot ended up on Earth. One thing I wish they had done a better job of is clearing up some plot holes, such as what happened with Valkyrie, as well as Korg and the surviving gladiators that were on the ship at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Were they killed as well or were they not on the ship when Thanos attacked them? Also, I wish they had shown Thanos collecting the Power Stone from Xandar. I mean, you kind of see him get the Reality Stone but your first appearance of him is with him already having the Power Stone and you just casually toss out that he destroyed Xandar to get it. That’s it? Every other stone was a fairly decent scene but the Power Stone was reduced to just a casual line that Thor blurts out? That is lame. The special effects really were incredible and they went all out with this movie. From the various planets and locations to all of the battles, this was a true special effects extravaganza. A fun movie to watch and while not perfect, did a good job in tying the MCU together against a single enemy.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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October 26th, 2018 Movie – Thor: Ragnarok

thor ragnarok

Since the beginning of the year, there have been several new entries in the MCU to come out on video. Of course, I was going to be getting them when they came out so I am excited to be getting into these movies now. So, first on the block is the most recent entry in the Thor franchise. Now many people tended to be disappointed with the Thor entries in the MCU, especially The Dark World. However, I knew things were going to be different when I saw the trailer for the new movie. It seemed like they decided to take a page out of James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy playbook and have some fun with this movie. Now the fact that this movie was also how we were going to get a live action version of Planet Hulk had me doubly excited to see this movie when it came out. So as soon as it hit theaters, I was there with some of my friends and we all enjoyed watching Thor: Ragnarok.

The plot: After roaming the cosmos in search of answers regarding the reemergence of the Infinity Stones, Thor finds himself captured by the massive fire demon Surtur. As Thor tell Surtur that he had a vision of him destroying Asgard, Surtur tells him that he has seen Ragnarok, the prophecy where Surtur brings about the destruction of Asgard. Surtur tells Thor that all he has to do is unite his crown with the Eternal Flame on Asgard and Ragnarok will begin. When Thor says that Odin will stop him, Surtur says that Odin is not on Asgard, which shocks Thor. Thor breaks free from his chains and after fending off Surtur’s minions, he battles Surtur and manages to knock his crown from his head. After grabbing the crown, Thor calls out to Heimdall to send the Bifrost Bridge for him but when he gets no response, he is forced to flee from Surutr’s dragon before the bridge finally appears. Arriving on Asgard, Thor finds that the Bifrost is being run by Skurge, as Heimdall has been declared a traitor to Asgard. Thor heads into the city and finds Odin watching a play depicting the death of Loki, only written to make Loki seem more heroic. Thor confronts Odin and, realizing who he really is, forces him to reveal that he is really Loki. As Loki tries to explain that things were fine while Thor was gone, Thor tells him that the Nine Realms are in chaos and demands to know where Odin is. Loki reluctantly agrees to show Thor where he left him and they head to Earth, only to find that the building Loki left Odin in is being demolished. Suddenly, a portal opens up underneath Loki’s feet and he disappears, with only a card with an address written on it left in his place. Thor heads to the address and is greeted by Dr. Stephen Strange, Earth’s new Sorcerer Supreme, who questions why Thor brought Loki back to Earth. Thor tells Strange that they are looking for Odin and when they find him, they will leave and Strange tells Thor that Odin is in Norway, then summons a portal and sends Thor and Loki through it. Thor and Loki find Odin on a cliff staring out at the sea and he greets his sons, then tells them that Ragnarok is upon them. Thor tries to tell him that he defeated Surtur but Odin tells him Ragnarok had already started, as he is dying and with his death, Hela, his firstborn daughter, will return. He tells them that her appetite for conquest grew beyond his control and he was forced to imprison her. Telling them that she gains her power from Asgard and if she returns there, her power will be limitless, he then fades away into a shower of energy that heads out into the sky. Thor faces Loki, blaming him for Odin’s death, but before they can start fighting, a portal opens and Hela emerges. Hela demands that they kneel and when Thor refuses and throws Mjolnir at her, she catches it in her hand and shatters it. Loki summons a Bifrost to take them back, despite Thor warning him not to, but Hela follows after them and knocks both Thor and Loki off the bridge into the abyss. Hela arrives on Asgard and is confronted by Volstagg and Fandral but she kills them, then allows Skurge to work for her. Meanwhile, Thor ends up on the planet Sakaar, where a group of Scrappers capture him. Before they can eat him, Thor is saved by a slave trader called Scrapper-142, who radios her boss and tells him that she has something special. Back on Asgard, Hela speaks to Hogun and Odin’s army, demanding they swear allegiance to her but when they refuse, she slaughters them all. Meanwhile, Heimdall scales the cliff at the back of the Bifrost Bridge and steals the sword, ensuring that Hela is trapped on Asgard. Back on Sakaar, Thor is brought before the Grandmaster, the ruler of the planet, who pays Scrapper-142 for Thor, then proceeds to bring Thor with him while he tells him about Sakaar. When Thor spots Loki, he tries to get him to help him escape but Loki says he can’t, explaining he had been there for weeks and just now gotten in the Grandmaster’s favor. The Grandmaster tells him that if he defeats his champion, he can go home and Thor agrees to fight him. Thor is transported to the gladiatorial holding area, where a Kronan named Korg introduces himself and his friend Miek, and when he hears that Thor plans on fighting the champion, he warns him that everyone that faces the champion is killed. Back on Asgard, Hela enters the throne room and finds that Odin has rewritten the history of how Asgard’s kingdom was founded and she reveals that she was the one to lead his armies until she was banished. She then heads down to Odin’s treasure chamber and takes some of the flames from the Eternal Flame, then heads down to where her army was buried and uses the Eternal Flame to resurrect the giant wolf Fenris and the rest of her army. Back on Sakaar, Loki pays Thor a visit, trying to convince him to join him and they can overthrow the Grandmaster and rule Sakaar but Thor refuses. After trying to convince Thor to give up on trying to save Asgard, he tells Thor that he placed a large wager against him, then leaves. As Thor is preparing the fight, he sees Scrapper-142 and Korg tells him that she is an Asgardian. Thor attempts to talk with her and, noticing a tattoo on her arm, recognizes her as a Valkyrie and attempts to appeal to her sense of honor but she tells him that he is on Sakaar, not Asgard. After being outfitted with weapons and armor, Thor enters the arena and is surprised to discover that the Grandmaster’s champion is the Hulk. Thor tries to talk to Hulk butHulk ignores him and begins fighting. Not wanting to be killed, Thor fights back, shocking the Grandmaster when Thor appears to get the upper hand. Thor moves to knock Hulk unconscious but Hulk catches the hammer and punches Thor, then proceeds to pummel Thor into the ground when Thor suddenly channels lightning into his fist and blasts Hulk. Using this new found power, Thor moves to finish off Hulk but the Grandmaster activates the slave disc on Thor’s neck and paralyzes him, allowing Hulk to knock Thor unconscious. Back on Asgard, Hela moves to begin conquering the Nine Realms, naming Skurge as her executioner, but when they head to the Bifrost, they find the sword is missing. Back OnSakaar, Thor regains consciousness and finds himself in a room with Hulk. Thor asks how Hulk got there and Hulk says his quinjet crashed, then points it out to Thor. Thor wants to use it to leave but Hulk refuses to go and when Thor does try to leave, he finds the slave disc won’t let him leave the room. As Hulk goes to train with Valkyrie, Thor makes contact with Heimdall, who tells him that he is saving as many of the people as he can but if Hela discovers them she will slaughter them, take the sword, and conquer the cosmos, then tells Thor how to escape from Sakaar before breaking the connection. Thor convinces Hulk to get Valkyrie there and he tries to convince her to join him to help rescue Asgard. When she refuses, he tells her that Odin is dead and Hela has returned and Valkyrie said she faced Hela once, along with the rest of the Valkyrie, and refuses to do it a second time. She goes to leave and Thor thanks her, as he had lifted her control rod for the slave disc, which he uses to power it down so he can remove it, then smashes through the window to leave. Thor makes his way to the Quinjet and gets it ready to take off but Hulk, wanting Thor to stay with him, smashes the ship. As Thor tries to stop him, he activates a video replay, showing Black Widow’s conversation with Hulk trying to get him to return after the events at Sokovia. Seeing Widow causes Hulk to turn back into Bruce Banner and Thor attempts to calm him down when Banner learns that he has been the Hulk for two years. As Thor attempts to explain where they are, they see an announcement from the Grandmaster saying that his champion is missing, stolen by Thor, and tells the people to head out into the streets to celebrate him so that he might return. In the Grandmaster’s palace, the Grandmaster tells Loki and Valkyrie to find Hulk and Thor but as they leave, they start to fight. When Loki discovers Valkyrie’s identity, he brings back her memories of Hela slaughtering the rest of the Valkyries and Valkyrie knocks him out. She then find Thor and Banner and after bringing them to her quarters, explains that she will help them get off Sakaar. Showing them that she has Loki prisoner, they make their plans to escape but when Thor says they need to go through the central wormhole, which is known as the Devil’s Anus, and Loki says that he knows the security codes for the Grandmaster’s garage and they come up with a plan. Valkyrie breaks into the arena pens and deactivates the slave discs, then arms Korg so he can lead a revolution. Meanwhile, Thor and Loki head to the garage, discussing their lives and how their paths have separated over the years. They reach the garage and Loki double crosses Thor but Thor, knowing Loki would do this, had placed a slave disc on Loki’s back when he wasn’t expecting it, then activates it, leaving Loki writhing in pain on the ground. Thor takes off with the Grandmaster’s ship, but the Grandmaster sends several ships after them. Valkyrie starts fending some of them off and when her ship is destroyed, she does so hand to hand and Thor helps her, then they get back on the ship and make their way through the wormhole. Meanwhile, Korg leads the other gladiators to the garage to steal a ship when they discover Loki and turn off the slave disc, inviting him to join them. On Asgard, Hela discovers where Heimdall is hiding and heads there only to discover that he has already evacuated. Thor, Valkyrie, and Banner arrive on Asgard and Thor tells them to help Heimdall get everyone off Asgard while he stalls Hela. Thor heads to the palace and bangs Odin’s staff on the floor, which Hela hears and heads there to confront Thor. Meanwhile, Heimdall is leading the Asgardians to the Bifrost when they find their path blocked by Fenris, just as Skurge and Hela’s soldiers show up behind them. Valkyrie and Banner arrive and attempt to shoot Fenris but he ignores the bullets so Banner jumps out of the ship, only to land on the ground seemingly dead, but as Fenris passes him and attempts to attack Heimdall, Banner turns into the Hulk and begins fighting Fenris. Thor fights with Hela but she overpowers him, cutting out one of his eyes and pinning him to a balcony so he can watch his friends die. Suddenly, Loki and the gladiators arrive and as they begin fighting with Hela’s soldiers, Loki tells everyone to get on the ship. Hela taunts Thor, saying this changes nothing, but as she chokes the life from him, Thor has a vision of talking with his father, who tells him the Mjolnir was never the source of his power, simply a means to control and focus it. Thor summons a massive lightning bolt to attack Hela, then heads off the fight on the bridge, joining Valkyrie, Heimdall, Loki, and the others there. Skurge, sensing the tide might be turning decides to leave Hela’s service and sneak onto the ship while Hulk and Fenris continue fighting with Fenris being knocked off of Asgard while Hulk manages to hang on. When Hela appears on the bridge, Thor realizes that this won’t stop so long as she is able to draw strength from Asgard and tells Loki they have to set about Ragnarok. Loki leaves to place Surtur’s crown in the Eternal Flame while Thor and Valkyrie try to stall her. When Thor tells the ship to leave, Hela uses her powers to spear it with a massive spear, allowing her soldiers to get on board but Skurge, overcome with guilt over his actions, begins fighting the soldiers, breaking the spear and allowing the ship to leave. Hela kills Skurge and beats Thor and Valkyrie but Loki had placed the crown on the Eternal Flame, allowing Surtur to be reborn in his gigantic size As Hela reacts in shock, Thor and Valkyrie are able to knock her in the water below and watch as Surtur begins to ravish Asgard. Hulk returns and goes to fight Surtur but when Surtur throws him aside, Thor and Valkyrie convinces Hulk to leave Surtur alone and Hulk grabs them and jumps onto the leaving ship. Hela reappears and begins fighting with Surtur but he is able to ignore her attacks and plunges his sword into the heart of Asgard, destroying it. As Thor is fitted with an eyepatch over his missing eye, Loki returns and Thor thanks him, thinking it is a hologram but Loki reveals that he is really there. As Thor takes the throne as the king of the displaced Asgardians, They try to figure out where they should go and Thor decides that they should head to Earth. AS they are making their way there, Loki asks Thor if it is a good idea for him to go back to Earth and Thor tells him not to worry when suddenly, they are confronted by Thanos’ flagship. Back on Sakaar, the Grandmaster emerges from the wreckage of his palace and is confronted by some Scrappers and tries to talk them out of killing him as they have succeeded in their revolution.

Thor: Ragnarok was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise — and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” This marks the first time in the MCU that the Hulk was not voiced by Lou Ferrigno, as he had voiced him in The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, and Age Of Ultron. The movie was a box office success, earning $854 million off of a $180 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the Thor franchise.

This was such a fantastic movie and definitely the best of the Thor movies. The acting was great, with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston doing great jobs reprising the roles of Thor and Loki. Mark Ruffalo was also great as Banner/Hulk and I liked Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett as Hela, but I was disappointed in Karl Urban’s portrayal of Skurge and while he was funny, Jeff Goldblum’s portrayal of the Grand Master was also a little disappointing. Of course, I am basing both of them on the differences of their characters from the comics, which isn’t fair but they really did make a big change with them. The story was pretty good as a whole, but I will admit to some disappointment that the Planet Hulk story line, which was such a huge story line in the comics, was reduced in the way that it was. One thing I did enjoy was the added comedy in the movie, as it added a layer of entertainment to the movie that really was missing in the earlier films. The special effects were great, and definitely showed the improvements in technology over the years, especially in bringing to life the various locations, such as Sakaar and Asgard. A great movie and a good lead up to the upcoming Infinity War.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that I bought today’s movie. After all, my love for giant monster movies is pretty well documented on this blog. Anyways, after the success of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, it was announced that two sequels would follow. However, Godzilla wasn’t the only monster that Legendary had their sites set on, as plans were made to do a remake starring America’s most famous giant monster, King Kong. When Universal Pictures allowed Legendary Pictures to have Warner Bros. distribute their King Kong movie, in order to facilitate a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie down the road. But that isn’t happening for three years so right now, let’s focus on today’s movie. I was already excited about this movie when I first heard it was being produced, with the cast announcement only fueling that excitement. When the first trailer for it dropped, I was all in and, along with my 2 youngest brothers, we eagerly hit the theater opening night to watch it, then I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as it was available. Now, let’s strap in and enjoy today’s movie, Kong: Skull Island.

The plot: During World War II, an American and Japanese plane are shot down over an uncharted island in the Pacific but both pilots manage to bail out. Seeing that they are enemies, the two pilots begin shooting at each other on the beach but when they run out of bullets, the Japanese pilot chases after the American with his sword. As the two fight on a cliff, they are startled when a pair of massive arms grab the cliff and a giant ape raises up and roars at them. 29 years later, Monarch official William “Bill” Randa and his assistant, Houston Brooks, arrive in DC, amidst the protests against the Vietnam War. As President Nixon announces the end of the war and his withdrawing the troops, Randa and Houston meet with Senator Al Willis about receiving funding for an expedition to Skull Island, which they were just able to get satellite photos of. Willis is reluctant to do so at first, believing Monarch to be a wast of government money, but when Houston says that the Soviets satellite will pass over the island in a few days and says they should know what is there first, Willis agrees to have them piggyback on a geological mission and Randa asks for a military escort. In Vietnam, the members of a helicopter squadron, The Sky Devils, are celebrating the end of the war and looking forward to going home in a few days. Their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, feels differently and appears upset about leaving the war unfinished so when he receives a call from General Ward with new orders, he eagerly accepts them. Randa and Houston head to Singapore to meet with James Conrad, a former Captain in the British SAS, and hire him as a tracker/guide for their expedition, while photojournalist Mason Weaver is told that she has been given the assignment to document the expedition. The different groups all meet in Thailand and after boarding the expedition ship, they are briefed on the island and their mission of using seismic charges to help map the island. Later, Conrad and Mason meet up in the cargo hold, as both are suspicious of the true nature of the mission. As they reach the island, they see the storm system surrounding the island and the Landsat leader wants to abandon the mission but Randa and Packard overrule him and choose to proceed. The helicopters take off and make their way through the storm, eventually reaching the island. After setting up a base camp, the helicopters begin dropping the seismic charges to map the island, which Houston says is practically hollow, when a tree is suddenly thrown into one of the helicopters while a second one is swiped from the air by a giant hand. The rest of the helicopters are soon confronted by Kong, who begins knocking all of the helicopters out of the sky, killing several of the soldiers in the process. The group is scattered across the area and Conrad, along with Mason, Houston, San Lin (Monarch’s biologist), Victor Nieves (the Landsat leader), and Reg Slivko (the Sky Devils radio operator) decides to head towards the refueling drop in order to get off the island. Meanwhile, Packard gets in touch with Chapman, his second-in-command, and orders him to sit tight, as Chapman’s helicopter had all of the extra munitions. Packard then gathers his surviving soldiers, including Reles, Mills, and Cole, then asks where Randa is. Packard approaches Randa and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him what he knows. Randa explains that monsters exist, citing his own experience, and how he spent the last 30 years in Monarch trying to prove it. Randa then asks that Packard help him get back home with proof so they can bring the cavalry but Packard says he is the cavalry, then orders his men to start moving. As they make their way through the jungle towards Chapman, one of the soldiers is impaled by the leg of a giant spider and as it tries to grab and eat Glenn, the others manage to kill it and save him. Meanwhile, Conrad’s group encounters a giant water buffalo-like creature but when they make no move to threaten it, it ignores them and walks away. They continue on their way and eventually come to some ruins, where they find themselves surrounded by Iwi natives. Suddenly, an American appears and introduces himself as Hank Marlow, the downed American pilot from WWII. Hank convinces the Iwi’s that the group means them no harm, then takes them to the wreckage of an old ship, which is considered hallowed ground by the Iwis. Inside, Marlow explains about how the natives worship Kong, who is considered their great protector, and how he fends off the creatures from below, lizard-like monsters which he calls Skullcrawlers. When Conrad tells Marlow about the refueling team, Marlow says they won’t be able to make it in time on foot, but shows them the boat that he and his friend, the Japanese Gunpei Ikari, had been working on before Gunpei was killed. As Conrad and Slivko help Marlow get it running, Mason is hears some cries from outside the wall and sees a buffalo trapped under a wrecked helicopter. She tries to help free it but is unable to move the wreckage when suddenly, Kong appears and lifts the helicopter, then stares at Mason as the buffalo leaves. Meanwhile, Chapman has his own encounter with Kong, having watched him kill a giant squid as he was drinking from a lake. As Chapman waits for Packard, he encounters a giant bug, which he manages to drive off, but he is then killed by a Skullcrawler. The group get the boat working and Marlow says goodbye to the Iwis, who have come to see them off. As they make their way along the river, Slivko manages to make contact with Packard’s group and Packard sends up a flare to show them where they are. As Slivko gets off the radio, a group of pterosaurs suddenly grab Nieves and tear him to pieces in the air. The two groups meet up and Conrad explains their plan but Packard refuses to leave Chapman, or the supplies, and tells Conrad that his job is to find lost men so he should do it. The group head west, where they reach a mass grave containing the remains of Kong’s family. Marlow warns them not to go through there but Packard overrules him and they head inside. Suddenly, a Skullcrawler appears and as they all hide, it spits up a human skull and Conrad sees it has Chapman’s dog-tags on it. When the Skullcrawler leaves, the group start to head out again but Randa is suddenly eaten by the Skullcrawler, which then begins attacking the soldiers. Several of them are eaten and killed before Mason manages to kill it by igniting a methane vent as it is over it. Marlow tells Packard that to continue on is suicide and Conrad shows him that Chapman is dead but Packard refuses to leave without killing Kong. Packard leads his soldiers towards the munitions and they make plans to ambush and kill Kong. Conrad, Mason, Marlow, Houston, and San make their way back towards the boat but as they stop for a rest, Conrad and Mason go on ahead and encounter Kong. Suddenly, they see explosions in the distance and Kong roars in anger and heads towards them. Conrad and Mason go back to the others and tell them to get the boat while they go try to save Kong and Marlow goes with them. Kong approaches Packard and his men and starts heading to attack them when Packard sets off the napalm they had laid out as a trap, engulfing Kong in flames and causing him to collapse. Packard orders his men to set charges on Kong so they can blow him up but Conrad, Mason, and Marlow show up and get him to stop. When Slivko turns his gun on Packard, the rest of the soldiers also lower their weapons. Suddenly, a giant Skullcrawler emerges from the water and approaches the fallen Kong. Conrad and the others leave but Packard stays behind and when he sees Kong has regained consciousness, he goes to set off the charges but Kong smashes him with his fist. Kong and the Skullcrawler begin fighting as Conrad leads the others to where the boat is. When the Skullcrawler comes after them, Cole tries to sacrifice himself to save the others by trying to get it to swallow him while he pops a grenade but the Skullcrawler simply swipes him with his tail, sending him into a cliff. As the Skullcrawler approaches them, Kong appears and continues to attack it but it knocks him into the remains of several boats. Kong ends up trapped in some chains and the Skullcrawler approaches to try and finish the job when Houston begins firing at it from the boat as he and San show up to get the others. The Skullcrawler turns towards them and Mason, who is on a nearby hilltop, fires a flare at it’s head to distract it. Kong manages to get free and uses the chains, along with the rudder attached to it, to attack the Skullcrawler again and starts to get the upper hand but their fight ends up knocking Mason off of the cliff and into the water. Kong grabs her from the water but the Skullcrawler bites down on his fist to try and eat her, and Kong’s hand, but Kong manages to rip it’s tongue and guts out from it’s mouth, finally killing it. Kong then sets Mason down on the ground and starts to walk off as Conrad goes to check that she is ok. The surviving group then head back to the refueling spot so they can leave and Kong watches as the helicopters appear. Marlow returns to his home and is reunited with his wife and meets his son for the first time before sitting down to watch a Cubs game for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, Conrad and Mason are detained by Monarch and Houston and San appear and explain to them that Kong is not the only “King” out there, showing them slides of cave drawings picturing 4 other monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah), with a final drawing showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah locked in battle as people watch and as the screen cuts to black, Godzilla’s roar is heard.

Kong: Skull Island met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster’s mythos without ever matching up to the classic original. Jordan Vogt-Roberts cited Princess Mononoke as one of the influences in his creature design, saying that it was “a big reference, in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that, so a big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there”. During the into credits, there is a drawing of a turtle with the word MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) written above it, which could be a slight nod to the Gamera movies or Kamoebas, the giant turtle from Toho’s Space Amoeba. The movie was a box office hit, earning $566.2 million off of a $185 million budget.

This was a great movie to watch on several levels. The acting was fantastic, with Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Brie Larson (Mason) and John Goodman (Randa) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked John C. Reilly (Marlow), who provided some great comic relief, and Samuel L. Jackson, who gave Packard an almost Ahab like character as he tried to take down Kong no matter what. The story was really good, putting a little bit of a new spin on the Kong story with the only big difference, aside from Kong not going to a mjor city, is the removal of the “Beauty and the Beast” story line that is in the other movies. The special effects were incredible, from the various explosions to the monsters themselves, and the scenery and location shots in the movie was absolutely breathtaking. The original King Kong is still the best version out there, but this is a great movie in it’s own right and worthy of carrying on the franchises namesake.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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