Thor Love and Thunder


Viewed – 16 September 2022 Disney+

I was quite hyped for this when I saw the trailer. Thor Ragnorok remains for me one of the more enjoyable Marvel movies, so going into this follow-up I was hoping for another dose of entertainment. This time we have Thor (Chris Hemsworth) out to stop a maniac warlord called ‘Gorr the God Butcher’, who blames the gods for the death of his daughter. Back on earth, Thor’s ex girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) is dying of cancer until she discovers hope in Thor’s shattered hammer.

Directed again by Taika Waititi (Jo Jo Rabbit) this mostly light-hearted adventure is full of jokes and visual pyrotechnics as Thor wages war and bumps into characters like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Zeus (Russell Crowe), all to the soundtrack of Guns N Roses. Yeah, sometimes the jokes don’t always land, there’s a few poor effects shots and I grew tired of the screaming goats quickly. Yet the action is fun, the tone is fun and the story good enough for this kind of thing.

It’s a shame then that, despite best efforts Christian Bale is simply ‘ok’ as the villain, failing to figuratively ‘jump out of the screen’. Otherwise, it’s hard to find much fault here. Many of the scenes are very enjoyable and I got caught up in the action and entertainment factor the movie was clearly going for. Natalie Portman also held her own alongside the gods (whilst avoiding ‘woke’ pitfalls of other recent movies). Overall better than critics and the generally negative culture of the internet might have you believe. Simply put – I’d watch it again.

Verdict: Good+

Ambulance


Viewed – 10 August 2022 online rental

For some reason, people like to hate on Michael Bay. However I’ve enjoyed his movies, the ones I have seen – and consider movies like The Rock and Transformers classics. This latest is about a guy trying to get money for his wife’s operation who turns to his brother, and gets pulled into doing a bank robbery.

One of my favourites, Jake Gyllenhaal stars here as the career criminal brother who talks his brother into aiding him steal millions. Of course things don’t go to plan. This is every bit a Michael Bay movie, stylish and packed with action, explosions and a sun-drenched Los Angeles. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who I didn’t recognise is very good as the other brother just trying to do the right thing, and Eiza González as a straight-talking paramedic also proves decent. Gyllenhaal of course steals it though and is manically charismatic throughout.

This felt like Speed, being mostly a never ending chase sequence and is both exciting and rather intense. The action is slick and well executed, and the movie’s only real let down is a ton of overly stylish camera work, using I’m guessing drones to capture some shots. It gets a bit much after a while. It also felt a bit too long, due mainly to the intensity. Overall though this was great fun and had enough character and energy to give this an easy recommendation.

Verdict: Recommended

The Lost City


Viewed – 03 August 2022 online rental

A popular romance fiction writer who has lost the passion for her work (Sandra Bullock) finds herself whisked away on an adventure when a wealthy tycoon (Danielle Radcliffe) believes her fantasy adventure books hold the secret to finding a lost treasure. However her good-looking but dim witted cover model (Channing Tatum) sees an opportunity to prove himself a real hero.

Some movies are easy prospects. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and can sit back and simply enjoy the ride. This is one such movie. I’ve always liked Sandra Bullock and she’s perfectly fine here, delivering a likeable lead and once again proving her comedy chops. Same goes for Tatum, perfectly cast due to his Hollywood good looks and proves a likeable co-star. Radcliffe surprises in the villain role and is again fine. That’s the perfect word for this move – fine. It doesn’t do anything surprising, is funny enough and had a few fun action bits, and the exotic locations are nice enough to look at (even if they’re probably neatly all green screen).

Yet its also very throwaway. Bullock & Tatum’s parring is enjoyable but also very cheesy. An appearance from Brad Pitt is memorable. But with a clear influence from Romancing the Stone (a better movie) this just feels too safe and familiar to be anything more than ‘see if if there’s nothing better and you like the cast’.

Verdict: Good

The Northman


Viewed – 30 July 2022 online rental

The last Robert Eggers movie I saw was The Witch, a movie that took two viewings before I could fully appreciate it. This latest effort follows a young Prince who grows up to become a Viking warrior, out to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of a ruthless uncle.

A simple set up is given a very (I’m guessing) authentic approach similar to The Witch, meaning that at first this could alienate some viewers used to the more Hollywood interpretations of history. However if you can get past some of the dialect and more unusual aspects, what Eggers has delivered here is a visually powerful, at times brutal and engrossing revenge tale. Camera-work is particularly effective and how shots are framed really impress with their other-worldly beauty. Performances are decent, including memorable (if brief) turns from Ethan Hawk and Willem Dafoe. Nicole Kidman is quite good too. Also as is often the case, Anya Taylor-Joy is again great. Yet the star here is Alexander Skarsgard in an uncompromising, animalistic performance.

At times some of the Nors mythology and weirder aspects went a bit over my head, and some of the rituals like howling like a wolf were a bit too theatrical – but overall this was gripping and a treat to simple take in.

Verdict: Recommended

Top Gun: Maverick


Viewed – 26 May 2022 Cinema

The original 1986 Top Gun I recall never really appealed. I was only 11 at the time of its release and it’s setting of hot shot fighter jet pilots just wasn’t my thing. Flash-forward 35 years later and this almost gets the crown for longest period between movie and sequel. Tom Cruise returns as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, who is given the job of training up a group of highly skilled pilots to undertake a particularly dangerous mission. However amongst the pilots is the son of ‘Goose’ Maverick’s best friend who died in the original movie.

I feel the need….

Cruise is his usual charming self and in the mentor role offers up a commanding presence. Although like before the setting didn’t initially appeal I was still willing to give it a go. Thankfully the story is good enough and support cast do a decent job of becoming an appealing group faced with a life or death situation. The impending threat I felt was under-developed and there’s no actual bad guy just faceless enemy jets and the fact they have uranium hidden in an underground bunker.

That being said the star of the show is the cinematography and the many dizzying in-cockpit flying scenes. The final act is especially exhilarating and edge of your seat stuff. It also looked like Cruise was doing a lot of the fighter plane flying. The movie however pays a little too much homage to the more cheesy aspects of 80’s blockbuster cinema, and the love story between Cruise and Jennifer Connelly felt half baked. That said, I still enjoyed this, much more than expected.

Verdict: Good+