Thor, aliens, racists and elderly Japanese: movies viewed (#SFWApro)

THOR RAGNAROK (2017) has Thor no sooner expose Loki as having taken Dad’s place (at the end of Thor: The Dark World) than all of Asgard falls to the Odinsons’ elder sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), which results in Thor getting trapped into gladiatorial games on the world of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). There’s some good stuff (the handling of Hulk, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie) and Karl Urban makes a great Skurge (the character is so lightly scripted it’s entirely to Urban’s credit his dramatic arc is plausible), but there’s way, way too much comic relief (Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is played purely for laughs). And I don’t see any real excuse for the Dr. Strange scene other than to remind us they’re in the same universe. Art by Walt Simonson, all rights remain with current holder“Open communication has never been our family’s forte.”

ARRIVAL (2016) is the First Contact film in which linguist Amy Adams and physicist Jeremy Renner try to figure out how communicate with the recently arrived “heptapods” before someone panics and starts a shooting war. The stock opening reminded me too much of V but things picked up as it went along, enough I can forgive the weaknesses of the linguistics (I could spot some even before reading this article). Overall I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t regret waiting for streaming. “Sheena Easton had a hit song in all twelve cities in 1980.”

GET OUT (2017) probably shouldn’t have worked as it’s in many ways a conventional reworking of old horror tropes. However, the story of a young black man discovering meeting his new girlfriend’s family was a bad life decision is very well acted and raising black/white issues gives it a distinctive feel (no, they’re not targeting black victims for racist reasons, just because — oh look, a chicken!). It gets weaker at the gory end (and I can’t see how the protagonist pulled off his escape) but I’d much sooner have seen this in a theater than Arrival. Catherine Keener plays a sinister hypnotist. All rights to image remain with current holder. “I don’t think they’re a kinky sex family.”

TOKYO STORY (1953) shows that the problem of aging parents is apparently universal: A Japanese couple visit Tokyo to see their assorted children, only to have the kid fob the parents off on each other as much as possible and as cheaply as possible, with only their widowed daughter-in-law (who clings to her husband’s memory to an unhealthy degree) showing them genuine kindness. Slow-moving but no less effective for all that; I’m inclined to suggest I Never Sang For My Father as a movie tackling similar issues, though with a much less sympathetic older generation. “You see, even you are dissatisfied.”

Moving to TV, MARVEL’S INHUMANS wrapped up its eight-episode run earlier this week. While not as awful as some reviews paint it , it is very underwhelming: scheming Inhuman Maximus takes over the city of Attilan, sending the rest of the Inhuman royal family on the run (and presumably to slash costs, they shave Medusa so her living hair is off the table). After various adventures, they reunite to fight back against the usurper. Which certainly could work as a set-up but this just limps listlessly along. While not formally cancelled, it doesn’t seem anyone’s eager to give it a second chance. “That will always be my story — ‘he did so well, considering what he’s less than.’”

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