Tag Archives: marvel

“Ragnarok”: You should see it

I am going to do my best to let you know how much I enjoyed “Thor: Ragnarok” without ruining the movie for those few of you who haven ‘t seen it.  But you should really see it.  You might be able to find it lingering in some theaters still, but you can buy it digitally now and own the disk in a few weeks.  Watch it!

I have been a fan of Thor since the first movie, which surprised me at the time.  Thor was far from a favorite character in my comic books.  He was uninteresting, he talked strangely, and just flew around with a hammer.  He was a character that was in things I read, not a character I sought out on his own.  When the first movie was announced, I was curious at best wondering how anyone was going to make this unapproachable hero interesting for two hours.  I was impressed.  Straczynski & Branagh did a wonderful job crafting a movie that retained the epic scope of who Thor is while quite literally bringing him down to earth.  The story was a classic coming of age story, despite the fact that the main character was centuries old.

The second movie shifted focus.  It was somewhere between a war story and a save the princess story.  There was less work on the individual characters and it felt (like many of the movies often do now) like a cog in the machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Hints were dropped, the world was saved, but we already knew Thor was in “Avengers 2” so there was no real jeopardy.  It was good, not great, and definitely felt like a set up for other things.

“Ragnarok” was once again different from its predecessors.  There was a return to classic storytelling with Thor embarking on a hero’s journey to save his home and reclaim his power.  However things did not unfold in the way we have come to expect.  The heroes aren’t that heroic, the villain has a valid point of view (although is over the top in enforcing it), the happy ending isn’t happy, and the finale has no conclusion.  It wasn’t what I expected, but I liked that it felt different.  I liked that the story wasn’t cookie cutter with predictable movements from one act to another.  The film obviously sits within a wider universe with stories that are woven together, but it does not feel tied down to the universe.  It was also funny which is a big plus for me.

If you are at all invested in the Thor character or the greater MCU, “Ragnarok” is a must see.  Fortunately, it is also enjoyable and unpredictable.  It may not be the best of the MCU movies, but it is far from the worst.



Guardians of Grace?

************************ MINOR SPOILER ALERT*************************

I’m writing about the two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies today.  There are no major plot points revealed from either movie.  However, if you haven’t seen them and are a movie experience purist and want to see them with no preconceived ideas, you may want to skip this blog today.

************************ END SPOILER ALERT ***************************

One of the more wacky additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to be “The Guardians of the Galaxy” films.  The characters are not those that we might expect to get their own movie, let alone a franchise.  They are definitely, third tier characters or lower.  Even those of us who read more Marvel comics than those that had mutants or spiders, had no idea who these people might be.  Going into the first one I was confident that #1: The soundtrack would be good and #2: The MCU hadn’t let me down yet.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” was a surprise and a delight.  It was funny and irreverent without having to descend to “Deadpool” levels of funny and irreverent.  There was action, adventure, an origin story, and the overarching plot of the whole MCU was advanced.  At it’s heart, however, none of that was what the movie was about.  “Guardians” was really about what makes a hero. A hero isn’t necessarily the best person, the most talented person, or even  someone inspired to help others.  Sometimes a hero is simply the person who is willing to do what needs to be done in spite of his or her flaws and imperfections.  Which, of course, means that we can all be heroes.  Audiences responded to these misfits and rooted for them even though most of us had never heard of them before.

“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2” came out a few weeks ago and to my mind was not as strong.  The soundtrack was not as good, the action was repetitive, and it just felt like they were trying too hard to recapture the magic of the original.  There was a strained quality to the first half of the movie.  The humor felt forced rather than organic.  There was still action, adventure, and an origin story, but the overarching plot of the MCU was not advanced.  Like the original, however the larger message of the film was more than the sum of its parts.  “Vol. 2′ was ultimately about what makes family.  Family isn’t about who we may be related to, how we are raised, or what is considered ‘normal’ family structures.  Family is about who we love and who loves us.  It is about those we choose to share our life and those who put up with our faults, foibles, and rough edges.  Perfection is held up as a negative example and forgiveness is what brings people together.  Again, this gives us hope than even our flawed lives can be of worth to the right people.  Call me crazy, but this sounds like grace to me.

Grace is love in spite of flaws and finding courage in spite of fear.  Grace allows us to see the best in ourselves and know that we are of value.  Grace tells us that we are forgiven even when we don’t deserve forgiveness.  Through grace we find hope, love, and the strength to be our best possible selves.  And we find evidence of it in the most unexpected places, like sci-fi movies about a group of outsiders.

All of that is why grace is so amazing.