Tag Archives: benedict cumberbatch

1917 (2019) – My rating: 9/10


1917 is an epic war film directed, co-written and produced by Sam Mendes. It is based in part on an account told to Mendes by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes, and chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are given a mission to deliver a message. This warns of an ambush during a skirmish, soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.  The movie is well told and brilliantly acted.

During the First World War in April 1917, the Germans have pulled back from a sector of the Western Front in northern France. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) briefs two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay). Aerial intelligence has learned that the Germans are not in headlong retreat but have made a tactical withdrawal to their new Hindenburg Line, where they have prepared to overwhelm attacking British with their artillery. With field telephone lines cut, Blake and Schofield are ordered to hand-deliver a message to the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, calling off their planned attack, which might cost the lives of 1,600 men.  Any reluctance to make the journey was suppressed because Blake’s brother, Lieutenant Joseph Blake (Richard Madden) is among the 1,600.

Schofield and Blake cross no man’s land and reach the original German trenches, now abandoned. The trenches turn out to contain tripwires, which was triggered by a rat. The ensuing explosion almost kills Schofield, but Blake digs him out and leads him out of the collapsing bunkers. They arrive at an abandoned farmhouse, where they witness a dogfight nearby. A German plane plunges into the farm and Schofield and Blake attempt to save the burned pilot. Schofield proposes they mercy kill him, but Blake has Schofield instead fetch water for the pilot to drink, which turns out to be a big mistake.  See 1917 to find out how this all turns out.

1917 is an extraordinary tale of Lance Corporal Will Schofield and Lance Corporal Tom Blake who are given a semi-quasi suicide mission to deliver a message that will save 1,600 soldiers from walking into a death trap, set by the Germans.  Their journey was unbelievably dangerous and stressful.  Their passion and motivation were astounding.  It was hard to watch what they had to go through and the kinds of danger they encountered along the way.  One of 1917’s claim-to-fame is cinematographer Roger Deakins’ use of long takes to have the entire film appear as one continuous shot. I can’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil the movie for whoever may see it.  I can say 1917 was worth all the nominations it received.  The cinematography was outstanding, as was the scenery that showed the horrible filth. dead bodies, bob wires and booby traps in all its vivid color.  I wasn’t sure they received enough accolades for all their achievements but I’m unsure anyone really knew what they encountered along the way until now.  At any rate, 1917 was a brilliant movie and was praised by critics for Mendes’s direction, the performances, cinematography, musical score, sound effects and realism. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film won for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director.  At the 73rd British Academy Film Awards 1917 received nine nominations. 1917 domestic gross is $54,616,984  and $78,416,984 Worldwide.  Check It Out!

[1917 is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture,  Director, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects and Original Screenplay — TOTALLING 10 OSCAR NOMINATIONS]

 

THE CURRENT WAR (2019) – My rating 7/10

The Current War is a historical drama inspired by the 19th-century competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over which electric power delivery system would be used in the United States (often referred to as the “war of the currents”). Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Michael Mitnick. Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian also serve as executive producers. Not a lot of action but very informative and very interesting.

“The Current War” opens in the year 1880, with Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), revealing his electric lightbulb. He has decided on Direct Current (DC), which is cheaper, cleaner and safer than gaslight but it is limited in range and very expensive. George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), a successful businessman and inventor himself would like to learn more, so he invites Edison to dinner. Edison snubs Westinghouse who then sets out to prove Alternating Current (AC) is the better technology as it can work over greater distances and at a significantly lower cost. Edison and Westinghouse compete to get cities across the United States to use their system. Meanwhile, a brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) arrives in the United States and begins working with Edison, but is disappointed by Edison’s unwillingness to reconsider his ideas and to fulfill what Tesla thought was a financial promise, which Edison passes off as a joke. Edison struggles to find ways to make DC more affordable, while Westinghouse attempts to get the high-voltage AC system to work with motors. And so, the fight for power gets more fierce and much longer.  Of course, the plot has many pockets of interesting discoveries as well as showing the depths at which desperate men will go.

The Current War, A period in time when life was less complicated and people were apprehensive about everything.  Electricity was a huge move forward.  Before it could get off the ground, a simple matter needed to be clarified.  AC vs DC.  This movie was made and due for release in 2017 but because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which halted all things Harvey Weinstein, including The Current War, was never released until now.  If you’re not a history buff or have a thirst for historic events, you may want to skip this one. I found this true story interesting but more of a history lesson than a work of entertainment.  After two weeks released, “The Current War” has grossed $4,948,935 and has a 60% Rotten Tomatoes rating. I don’t think this box office flop will be around for another week.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie but not many other people were anxious to see it.  If you like history, Check It Out!

 

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) – My rating: 7.8/10

Avengers: Endgame is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team,The Avengers. The film is produced by Marvell Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Avengers: Endgame is the sequel to 2012’s “The Avengers”, 2015’s” Avengers: Age of Ultron” and 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” , it is also the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Avengers: Endgame is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Endgame picks up with the surviving members of the Avengers team, along with their allies working to reverse the damage caused by Thanos during the Infinity War. I for one, anticipated Endgame with bated breath. While I thought this was a decent sequel, I was somewhat disappointed.

Thanos (Josh Brolin) used the Infinity Stones to disintegrate half of all life across the universe, leaving us devastated by the deaths of our beloved super heroes. The world has waited in anticipation for the reversal of Thanos’ actions. Avengers: Endgame, part two of Avengers: Infinity, begins three weeks after the completion of Thanos’ dastardly deed, with Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) returning to Earth from deep space, carrying a spaceship containing Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) inside. Now the remaining Avengers, which include; Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Rocket (Bradley Cooper’s voice), Thor (Christopher Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and James “Rhodey” Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle), must find a way to go back in time to fix what Thanos has done. Using Nebula’s knowledge, they find an injured Thanos on an unguarded planet. Their plan is to retake the Stones and reverse his actions but find he has already destroyed them to prevent further use. An enraged Thor beheads Thanos, who is now an ordinary person without the powers of the stones.

**** SPOILERS ****

Five years later, Scott Lang / Ant Man (Paul Rudd) escapes the quantum realm and meets Natsha Romanoff / Black Widow and Steve Rogers / Captain America at the Avengers’ compound. Scott explains that he experienced only five hours while trapped, which to him theorizes that the quantum realm allows time travel. The three heroes travel to ask Stark, because of his genius, to help them retrieve the Stones from the past so they can reverse Thanos’ actions in the present. Stark not believing this could be done refuses, mostly out of fear he’d lose his daughter, Morgan (Lexi Rabe). After having a short chat with his wife, Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark relents says good-bye to his family, then leaves to work with Banner, who has merged his consciousness with the Hulk’s body, hoping to stabilize travel in the quantum realm. Banner and Rocket go to the Asgardian refugees’ new home in Norway, to recruit a beer drinking, drunken, overweight Thor and Romanoff heads to Tokyo to recruit Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who has turned into a ruthless vigilante following the disintegration of his family.

I think this is a good place to stop. It is difficult to critique this film because the entire story is a mystery for you to solve or not, so you don’t want to know how it ends or if they accomplish the mission. I was a little disappointed in this sequel. First, I felt Tony Shark deserved much more. I can’t elaborate on this since it would spoil the movie for you. Suffice to say, Iron Man should have a movie all to himself, which would give him the opportunity to explain his actions, past, present and future. I also feel Black Widow should be in that Iron Man movie to boost their fan’s moral, concerning what happened in the Endgame. I must inform you that this three hour and one minute movie is action packed with special effects beyond your greatest expectations. There were so many super heroes, from the present as well as the past, that you will find it hard to keep up. The beginning of Endgame tested our faith in the writers to pull off a Thanos’ reversal, as hopelessness was the only feelings we could muster up. After a long battle of defeats for the Avengers and company, we finally got some hope but it didn’t last long. I personally thought the Endgame could have been better written, as there were too many disappointments. Also, the quantum theory story was a bit hard to swallow. Terms like “your past is now your present” really took a lot of intellect to fully understand. BTW, that quantum statement is longer with deeper meaning; I just can’t spoil this for you by saying anymore. You have to see Avengers: Endgame for yourself. It is definitely worth seeing. The film received positive reviews for its direction, acting, entertainment value, musical score, visual effects and emotional weight, with critics lauding its culmination of the 22-film story. With an estimated budget of $356 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. It also broke numerous box office records and has grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2019, as well as the fifth highest-grossing film of all time. Check It Out!

 

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) – My rating 9.5/10

Avengers: Infinity War is a Superhero film based on the Marvel Comics Superhero team, the Avengers.  It’s produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios. It is the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s the sequel to 2012’s The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, while also picking up plot points from many other MCU movies, most notably Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange, and the two Guardians of the Galaxy films. Infinity War is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and features an ensemble cast.

Avengers: Infinity War opens with Thanos and his henchmen (Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive), intercepting the ship carrying survivors of Asgard’s destruction.  Thor, Loki, Heimdall and Hulk are powerless to prevent the extraction of the Space Stone from the tesseract (an energy that holds the stone).  The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescues Thor. Thanos’ goal is to obtain all six Infinity stones (Power, Space, Time, Mind, Reality and Soul), which would make him the most powerful in the universe.  Thanos will be able to snap his fingers to kill, destroy or to achieve anything he wants.  The goal of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, is to stop Thanos from collecting all six Infinity Stones.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe, siting the world has become over populated. In response, Strange recruits Tony Stark to join the team. Two of Thanos’ men, Maw and Obsidian arrive to take the Time Stone from Strange. A battle breaks out, drawing the attention of Peter Parker/Spiderman. Maw is able to capture Strange, but is unable to take the Time Stone due to a spell. Stark and Parker team up and pursue Maw’s spaceship while Banner contacts Steve Rogers/Captain America. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone in his forehead to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.  They surmise Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector at Knowhere.  Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive, adoptive sister Nebula from torture.

In a post-credits scene, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) transmits a distress signal using a device that displays a star insignia on a red-and-blue background. UHM!

I found this version of Avengers: Infinity War exciting and well acted.  I loved how all the Superheros came together to fight the good fight.  Each character displayed their talents and never lost who they were.  In a production like this, with so many characters, individual personalities tend to get lost or become a non-entity.  I especially liked the comedic side of this adventure and the attention the director paid to detail.  The surprise ending, everyone is talking about, may or may not leave a very sour taste in your mouth but hang in there viewers, good things are coming.  What I didn’t like was the endless credits at the end before we got to see the very last scene of the movie.  So who did that distress signal go out to?  We can guess but we won’t know for sure until part 2.  Until then, watch this one over and over once it hits DVD / Blu-Ray.  Avengers: Infinity War was brilliant and has the biggest twist ever.  Check it out!

Below are the cast members and who they are. 

  • Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark / Iron Man:
    The leader and benefactor of the Avengers who is a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with electromechanical suits of armor of his own making.
  • Chris Hemsworth plays Thor:
    An Avenger and the king of Asgard based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
  • Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner / Hulk:
    An Avenger and a genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. 
  • Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers / Captain America:
    A fugitive superhero and leader of a faction of Avengers. A World War II veteran, he was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum and frozen in suspended animation before waking up in the modern world.
  • Scarlett Johansson plays Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow:
    A highly trained spy, and former Avenger and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange:
    A former neurosurgeon who, after a car accident that led to a journey of healing, discovered the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions and became a Master of the Mystic Arts.
  • Don Cheadle plays James”Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine: A former officer in the U.S. Air Force who operates the War Machine armor and is an Avenger. Following his paralysis during the events of Civil War, Rhodes is given an apparatus by Stark to walk again.
  • Tom Holland plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man: A teenager and Stark’s protegé who received spider-like abilities after being bitten by a genetically-modified spider.
  • Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa / Black Panther: The king of the African nation of Wakanda, who gained his enhanced strength by ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb.
  • Paul Bettany plays Vision:
    An android and Avenger created using the artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S., Ultron, and the Mind Stone.
  • Elizabeth Olsen plays Wanda Maximoff  /  Scarlet Witch: A member of Rogers’ faction of Avengers, who can harness magic and engage in hypnosis and telekinesis.
  • Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson / Falcon:
    A member of Rogers’ faction of Avengers and former pararescue man trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack
  • Sebastian Stan plays James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier: An enhanced assassin and Rogers’ ally and best friend.
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki: Thor’s adoptive brother based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
  • Idris Elba plays Heimdall: The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian former sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
  • Peter Dinklage plays Eitri: King of the Dwarves of Nidavellir, and weaponsmith, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.
  • Benedict Wong plays Wong: One of the Masters of the Mystic Arts, tasked with protecting some of Kamar-Taj’s most valuable relics and books.
  • Pom Klementieff plays Mantis: A member of the Guardians of the Galaxy with empathic powers.
  • Karen Gillan plays Nebula: An adopted daughter of Thanos who was raised with Gamora as siblings.
  • Dave Bautista plays Drax the Destroyer: A member of the Guardians and warrior in search of vengeance against Thanos for killing his family.
  • Zoe Saldana plays Gamora: A member of the Guardians who is an orphan from an alien world who seeks redemption for her past crimes. She was raised by Thanos. Ariana Greenblatt portrays a young Gamora.
  • Vin Diesel plays Groot:
    A member of the Guardians who is a tree-like humanoid.
  • Bradley Cooper plays Rocket:
    A member of the Guardians who is a genetically-engineered raccoon-based bounty hunter and mercenary and is a master of weapons and battle tactics.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow plays Pepper Potts:
    Stark’s fiancée and the CEO of Stark Industries.
  • Benicio del Toro plays Taneleer Tivan / The Collector: One of the Elders of the Universe who is an obsessive keeper of the largest collection of interstellar fauna, relics, and species of all manner in the galaxy.
  • Josh Brolin plays Thanos:
    An intergalactic despot from Titan who longs to collect all six of the Infinity Stones in order to impose his will on all of reality, wanting to “re-balance the universe”.
  • Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill / Star-Lord:
    The half-human, half-Celestial leader of the Guardians who was abducted from Earth as a child and raised by a group of alien thieves and smugglers called the Ravagers.

SEVERAL OTHER ACTORS REPRISED THEIR MCU ROLES:
Danai Gurira is Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje;
Letitia Wright is T’Challa’s sister Shuri;
William Hurt is Thaddeus Ross
, the Secretary of State;
Kerry Condon is the voice of Stark’s A.I. F.R.I.D.A.Y.;
Winston Duke is M’Baku, leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, The Jabari; Florence Kasumba is Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje;
Jacob Batalon is Ned, Parker’s friend;
Isabella Amara is Parker’s classmate Sally;
Tiffany Espensen is Parker’s classmate Cindy;
Ethan Dizon is Parker’s classmate Tiny.

 

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) – My rating: 9/10

Thor: Ragnarok is a superhero action film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor and is the sequel to 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. The film is directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.  It is my humble opinion that Thor: Ragnarok is the best of the Thor trilogy.  It’s well written with an excellent plot and an enjoyable host of characters, new and old.  As of late, we’ve been bombarded with super heroes and gods from other planets as well as AFI, cyborgs, robots and transforming machines that come to save or destroy the world, in abundance.  Not that Thor is not more of the aforementioned group, it’s just more relatable and pleasant in terms of the human aspect.

Thor opens two years after the Battle of Sokovia with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown (voice)) on the alien planet of Sakaar.  Surtur reveals that Thor’s father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer on Asgard and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök once he successfully unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns beneath the city.  Thor manages to break loose and defeat Surtur, confiscating the crown and stopping the impending Ragnarök.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) posing as his father. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father and with directions from Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after her ambitions became too great. Odin dies, and Hela appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge (Karl Urban) as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall (Idris Elba) covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142 / Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female fighters who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk / Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).

As you can see, Thor: Ragnarok has extensive content.  This is just an introduction into a brilliant story of survival, love and leadership with loads of action and fantasy.  There are more twist and turns than I can count and I promise, you won’t be bored.  I loved all the character revivals and introductions.  Good job, good message, good movie and brilliant acting.

I’ve provided some additional history into a few of the characters, compliments of : Kevin Feige, Taika Waititi and the cast of Thor: Ragnarok at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

WARNING — LOTS OF SPOILERS BELOW:

  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor:
    The crown prince of Asgard based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, who has become a “lone gunslinger” searching for the Infinity Stones. Hemsworth had become “a bit bored” with the character after portraying Thor four times previously, and wanted to take some risks and experiment: the character has shorter hair in the film, wears a different outfit, his hammer Mjolnir is destroyed and he loses an eye. Director Taika Waititi added that “stripping” the character down like this allowed him to become a refugee at the end of the film. Waititi also wanted to use more of Hemsworth’s comedic talents showcased in films like Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016), and cited Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China as an influence on the character.
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki:
    Thor’s adoptive brother and nemesis based on the deity of the same name.  Hiddleston was interested in how Loki’s attitude has changed, saying, “he is always a trickster. It is trying to find new ways for him to be mischievous”. As the ruler of Asgard since the end of Thor: The Dark World, Hiddleston notes that “Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification. Not so much on good governance.” He also added that “the idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him, because that’s a defining feature of his character … ‘My brother doesn’t love me; I hate my brother.’ And the idea his brother’s like, yeah, whatever, it’s an interesting development.”
  • Cate Blanchett as Hela:
    Odin’s first born child and the goddess of death, based on the deity Hel, who is inadvertently released from her prison. Blanchett noted the difficulty of playing the role in a motion capture suit rather than costume, feeling the character’s headdress is “such a huge part of when she comes into the height of her powers in the film”. Hela’s design was taken from Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, while the character Gorr from that comic, who has the ability “to manifest an infinite number of weapons”, inspired a similar ability for Hela. Blanchett worked with stuntwoman Zoë Bell, Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi, and studied capoeira for the role.
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall:
    The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the deity of the same name, who has gone into self-imposed exile during Loki’s reign. After Hela invades Asgard, he helps to hide its vulnerable citizens. Describing Heimdall’s character arc in the film, Winderbaum says, “he’s gone from this elder statesmen, the gatekeeper to Asgard, to this badass warrior-wizard character who lives in the hills and kicks a lot of ass throughout the entire film.”
  • Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster:
    One of the Elders of the Universe who rules the planet Sakaar, and enjoys manipulating lesser life-forms. Goldblum described the character as “a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker, an enjoyer of life and tastes and smells”. He also said that Waititi encouraged improvisation in order for Goldblum to “make [the character his] own”. Waititi explained that Grandmaster does not have blue skin in the film as the character does in the comics, because Goldblum had already played a blue-colored character in Earth Girls Are Easy, and because Waititi did not want to detract from Goldblum’s personality by concealing his appearance. Grandmaster is the brother of Benicio del Toro’s Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy, and producer Kevin Feige expressed interest in seeing the two together in a future film.
  • Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie:
    A tough, hard-drinking Asgardian bounty hunter, based on the mythological being Brynhildr, who was once a legendary warrior of the Valkyrior and now works for the Grandmaster under the designation “Scrapper 142”. Thompson said the various versions of the character from the comics “left us a lot of leeway” in creating the film version.[20] Waititi “wanted to make sure we weren’t making a female character that was boring and pretty” and Feige said Marvel wanted to pair Thor with a love interest more his equal than Jane Foster. Thompson was inspired by pictures of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day while training for the role and worked with dialect coach Andrew Jack to create an Asgardian-sounding accent that was different enough to sound like she had been away from there for a long time. Thompson will appear in future MCU films.
  • Karl Urban as Skurge:
    An Asgardian warrior, who guards the Bifröst Bridge in Heimdall’s absence and chooses to join Hela to survive. Urban shaved his head for the role, and worked out to “get into the zone and feel” the part even though his body is hidden under a costume. Urban said Skurge “makes a deal with the devil” and becomes Hela’s “henchman. He does the dirty jobs. And that sort of is something he has to—it plays on his conscience.”
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk:
    A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. He becomes a successful and popular gladiator on Sakaar. He is in “perma-Hulk mode”, having suppressed the Banner side for a few years, and forming the vocabulary “of a toddler” with the level of Hulk’s speech being “a big conversation” between Waititi and Marvel since it was taking into account future appearances for the character. Ragnarok begins an arc for the character that continues in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel, stemming from discussions Ruffalo had with Feige.  Ruffalo felt Hulk was “much more of a character than the green rage machine you’ve seen in the Avengers movies. He’s got a swagger.” Waititi provided additional motion capture for the Hulk after Ruffalo had completed his scenes.
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin:
    The king of Asgard, father of Thor, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name. The character is in exile on Earth, and was originally intended to be a “crazy-looking” hobo on the streets of New York City, but Waititi ultimately felt that this was tragic rather than funny given the character’s death during the sequence. The sequence was changed to take place in Norway, to “honor” the character’s past and be more authentic to his role as a king of Asgard. Waititi was surprised by the improvisational ability of Hopkins after he was told “to be funny and to really destroy what’s come before [with the role] and recreate it.”

Additionally, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, and Zachary Levi reprise their roles as Hogun, Volstagg, and Fandral, respectively, members of the Warriors Three.  They are all killed early in the film, which Feige called “noble ends” that served to establish the threat of Hela and the danger she poses to the main characters. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Stephen Strange from the film Doctor Strange. Rachel House, who has appeared in several of Waititi’s films, plays Topaz, the Grandmaster’s bodyguard, while Waititi portrays Korg, a gladiator who befriends Thor. Waititi provided a motion-capture performance for the character, who is made of rocks, and wanted to do something different by having the character be soft-spoken, ultimately basing Korg’s voice on that of Polynesian bouncers. Waititi also provided the motion-capture performance for the fire demon Surtur, based on the mythological being Surtr, with Clancy Brown providing the voice for that character. Thor co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as a man on Sakaar who cuts Thor’s hair. There are also several cameos in a sequence where Asgardian actors perform a play based on the events of The Dark World: Sam Neill, who Waititi previously worked with on Hunt for the Wilderpeople, plays the Odin actor; Luke Hemsworth, brother of Chris, plays the Thor actor; and Matt Damon plays the Loki actor.

DR. STRANGE (2016) – My rating: 8/10

drstrangePlease keep in mine, I am not rating any of super hero movies against their comic books series because I don’t read comic books. In fact, I’ve never read any comic books or watched any cartoons. It was never my thing. I am reviewing these movies strictly on whether I was entertained and the quality of the movie. Dr. Strange was not what I expected. That’s not to say it was bad, it’s just to say the subject matter was not what I thought it would be. Having said that,  I liked the movie but I think it fell a little flat. Logically, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the reason Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) the sorcerer and his zealots, who were ruled by the dark Dormammu, wanted to kill off most of the world.  After that, what’s there to rule? It just didn’t make sense to me. So much effort for nothing. I also classify Dr. Strange’s character as a pompous ass. He’s so full of himself that it was hard to like him. I get that is a character flaw he’s been battling with forever and probably isn’t news to anyone but me, however, it was still difficult to deal with. This Reminded me of that other silly superhero everyone loved but I hated because of his “I love me and everything I do attitude” (Ryan Reynolds) in Deadpool. Dr. Strange’s attitude is not as bad as Deadpool but it’s close. The saving grace in this movie is the phenomenal actress, Tilda Swinton. She is one of the best actresses of our time and in my opinion certainly made Dr. Strange worth seeing.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident.  His ego wouldn’t allow him to accept his new position in life that wouldn’t include performing surgery, which keeps him in fresh pats on the back.  During Dr. Strange’s research for a cure, he learns of a person, Jonathan Pangborn, (Benjamin Bratt) a paraplegic with similar neurological problems who learned how to heal himself by going off to Kathmandu, Nepal, to study with the Ancient One, (Tilda Swinton) who has been alive for an undisclosed amount of time.

He also met with Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Master of the Mystic Arts, close with the Ancient One and now a mentor to Dr. Strange. While there, they tried to put Dr. Strange’s ego in tact and teach him powers he never imagined existed.  Moving in and out of spiritual realms took a lot for him to learn and even shaped his character a little but not quite enough to call him modest. An injury caused Strange to drift back to the hospital where he worked for life saving treatment and interaction with his colleague and love interest, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).  There was much humor and the special effects were outstanding.  The acting was brilliant and the costume design was fantastic.  Despite Dr. Strange’s cocky attitude, I found the movie very entertaining and highly recommend it.

 

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THE IMITATION GAME (2014) – My rating: 9/10

TheImitationGameChanges are, you’ve not heard much about this movie. It wasn’t aggressively advertised. The Imitation Game is based on a true story and takes place during World War II.  Britain obtained a most fascinating machine built by the Germans that allowed the Nazis to send daily messages depicting when and where the next attacks would take place.  This device is called the Enigma, which was impossible to decode.  A team of mathematical genius’ were formed to try to break the code and counter the attacks.  Alan Turing, excellently played by Benedict Cumberbatch, was hired to join the team but controversy surrounded his every move.  Kira Knightly played Joan Clarke, Alan’s love interest.  The acting was excellent as The Imitation Game, served to explain a most important part of this historic and tragic time, as well as entertain it’s audience in the process.  Yet another brilliantly told story as a result of Nazi Germany.  It’s too bad these German minds were put to such evil deeds.  The Enigma, one of many, was smuggled out of Germany and into the hands of the British.  The Imitation Game was mostly about Alan, who professed to be the one person intelligent enough to fulfill the task.  As the story advances, we learn Alan has social and metal restrictions that made him an unlikable chap.  Kira Knightly put up with all Alan’s issues and was a fellow master mind and member of the team.  I think this brilliantly told story will give you much school for thought.  The Imitation Game is made up of a very believable and fantastic cast of characters.  I felt as though I was there, experiencing the frustrations and attitudes of the officials and team.  Don’t miss this important piece of history and the injustices that made up man’s thinking in those most difficult times.  I smell Oscar for this director, Morten Tyldum and actors,  Benedict Cumberbatch, Kira Knightly and Matthew Goode.

THE IMITATION GAME is nominated for Best Picture, Directing, Best Actor, Best Actress, Film Editing, Music: Original Score, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay (writing).