Thor: Ragnarok

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Two years after he helped the Avengers fight Ultron, Thor has returned to Asgard, only to find a new threat who wants to bring an end to Asgard, and he wounds up on the planet Sakaar with his old friend the Hulk and his adopted brother Loki, so he must now fight his way back in order to return to Asgard and protect it from the powerful enemy who seeks to destroy it.

Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered some of the decade’s greatest blockbusters, their Thor movies are the weakest in the franchise, despite Chris Hemsworth’s great performance as the titular character. This one, however, with much more humor, colorful sets and visuals, and a creative style offered by director Taika Waititi, is able to deliver as an entertaining Marvel film that many hoped for, but also a very smart, funny, and pleasing one. The first two Thor films, although watchable and sometimes fun, didn’t have as much depth and feeling as it could have, as Thor is a great character that can be done a lot with, but Waititi is able to grasp onto what we love about Thor, and boast it with an incredible amount of humor, gorgeous set pieces and visual backdrops, and a lot of heart as well. The return of Hemsworth, Hiddleston as Loki, and Mark Ruffalo as the tough and angry but lovable hero we know as the incredible Hulk, are very satisfying, especially Ruffalo, as he isn’t the main character but he is given plenty of time for us to enjoy his time on screen and set up a character arc that will hopefully be explored more in the next films, Ruffalo and Hemsworth once again have great chemistry, and it’s awesome to once again see the team-up of two main Avengers in one of their solo films, after we saw Captain America join forces with Black Widow in The Winter Soldier. In addition to these returning characters, we also get some great new characters, including Jeff Goldblum is the hilarious, charming dictator of the planet Sakaar, known only as The Grandmaster, Creed‘s breakout star Tessa Thompson as a complex and ass-kicking warrior named Valkyrie, Karl Urban as Asgardian warrior Skurge, and Cate Blanchett as the ruthless villain Hela, who are all great as well, and not to mention a funny motion-capture character named Korg played by director Waititi himself. The cast has plenty to offer, as well as some expected and unexpected cameos, but that’s not all that makes Ragnarok such impressive fun.

There are lots of callbacks to the other Marvel films and the popular comic book storylines in this movie, but that’s not all that will please fans. There is plenty of clever humor, and you can tell the director just wanted to poke fun at a lot of it in many scenes. Apparently, 80% of the movie’s dialogue was improvised, and this style of directing made it seem like the cast and everyone else involved had so much fun making the movie, and I sure bet they did. I’m glad that they chose to make this film a comedy, but in some scenes the humor overstayed its welcome in parts where it felt like it was time to resume the plot, and it takes too much time for those specific scenes to leave the goofy, humorous parts, but most of the humor did turn out to be effective. The characters also get some good arcs and development, although some things are left unexplained that I really hoped the movie would address, such as how Loki survived the events of the previous Thor movie. Although lots of the ambition does pay off both visually and story-wise, this didn’t feel like a groundbreaking movie in terms of Marvel films. Last year, Civil War completely ditched the classic formula that was used in the past MCU films and instead we got a dark and complex story that was completely unpredictable. Although the movies Marvel has released this year (like this one) don’t really follow the established formula too much anymore, and I wasn’t expecting something extremely unexpected from this one, the past films we saw from Marvel this year both had something new to offer. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a fantastic message about family that was delivered wonderfully and made it feel more heartfelt and meaningful than most the other films. Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s themes about adolescence made it also feel different and rather a coming-of-age film than the familiar movie about self-discovery and powers. In Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel pretty much shoots for the same things: lots of humor, cool action and visuals, and lots of comic book references and characters/appearances. The directing and style make it feel very exciting and light-hearted, and this movie definitely put a smile on my face, but Marvel didn’t really offer much that was new or unanticipated with the substance and overall product of this movie. What did take me by surprise was how much has changed by the end of the film. Unlike most superhero films, Ragnarok involves sacrifices with real consequences being made, and our hero has lost some important things to him by the end, which makes his journey to the next Avengers film even more exciting. We’ll just have to see how it’ll go for him this May, when we get the big team-up we’ve all been waiting for: Infinity War.

Thor: Ragnarok isn’t one of the best Marvel movies out there, but it’s certainly a blast to watch. The creative style, great cast and visuals, and entertainment level make this one a worthy watch in theaters, and you will definitely be satisfied with the final part of Thor’s individual journey, until he will once again team up with the Avengers next May in Infinity War. Until then, the hilarious, colorful, and awesome fun this movie has to offer will be enough to make you cheer this franchise on.

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Blade Runner 2049

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In the highly anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) discovers a secret that leads him to former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who disappeared 30 years earlier.

Blade Runner is a film that’s influenced many sci-fi films and blockbusters to come, and is definitely a very visually beautiful film, although not one of my favorites. I was very excited for this film because Denis Villeneuve has never disappointed with his previous films, including Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and especially Arrival, and I could even call him one of the greatest directors of our time. Although the trailer may mislead you to think that this one’s more of an action movie than before, it’s actually as slow-paced and short on action as the previous film, so don’t be fooled. Thankfully, there’s a very intriguing story, impeccable directing, cinematography and visuals, and great acting. Ryan Gosling plays a leading role who acts more than he speaks, and knowing anything about his character beforehand would spoil the story. His movements, expressions, and interactions with every character make this one of his best performances in recent memory. Although it takes a while for Harrison Ford to make his grand entrance into the movie, it’s gladly pleasing to see him kick ass on screen once again, and it’s great to see that he’s still as good as Deckard as he was back in the ’80s. The rest of the cast, most notably Ana de Armas (who you may remember in a big role from last year’s War Dogs, and here she’s in a brilliant and very impressive role), is terrific as well, also including Robin Wright and Dave Bautista in great supporting roles. However, one performance really bothered me, which was that of Jared Leto. I think he’s a great actor but his acting here was too eccentric and over-the-top, and it felt very annoying, so I’m glad that his character had minimal screen-time in the movie.

I’m surprised that a movie like this was released in 2017, and it’s as big of a deal as it was when Blade Runner came out in 1982, because nowadays every film with so much CGI and hugely billed actors has constant action scenes and familiar cliches, so it’s refreshing to see that this one, like its predecessor, is rather a mystery drama than an action film. Ridley Scott did not have to worry when the sequel to his film is in the hands of Villeneuve, because if you’re familiar with his filmography, you know that nothing can go wrong when he’s in the director’s chair. Every shot is one that can be framed and Roger Deakins, who has already been nominated for 13 Oscars in his career, delivers possibly his best work here. The CGI is Oscar-worthy as well, and it blends in perfectly with the realistic effects in the movie. The music takes plenty of inspiration from the last film, and is done very beautifully thanks to the master Hans Zimmer, and his score for this movie is probably his best since Interstellar. All the technical elements blend in to make every scene intense and unpredictable. The story is more complex than the original and the movie feels like a puzzle as the runtime goes by. The movie is very long, running at almost three hours, but it grips onto your attention in every scene from the very first shot until the last. Some plot points are introduced and then later things are said or implied to contradict what you learned earlier, and then later it’s unanswered what is true or how exactly it worked, but I bet some of these plot points were left open-ended purposely. If you liked the first Blade Runner, you’ll definitely have a great time with this spellbinding, daring, extraordinary sci-fi movie, but if you didn’t, then you might not enjoy this one, as it’s longer and more complicated, but in my opinion, even better than the original. There is not a lot of action, so if you want an action-packed movie I’d recommend you see Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but this is the rare sci-fi feature we get every year that aspires for more, and leaves you thinking a lot, like InterstellarEx Machina, and Villeneuve’s own Arrival. He has made another magnificent feature that’s definitely one of the best of the year. There is occasional violence, language, and nudity, so I don’t recommend it for audiences under 15, but older and more patient viewers should definitely see this fulfilling sequel on the big screen.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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After their headquarters is destroyed by a drug kingpin, the Kingsman must team up with their American “cousins” known as the “Statesman” in order to save the world once again.

Ever since I saw Kingsman: The Secret Service two years ago, I knew that there should be a sequel, and that it would definitely be worth waiting for. I have to disagree with the disappointed thoughts from critics because I had a blast with the new Kingsman film. Matthew Vaughn brings back everything we loved from the first film and doesn’t lose his grip on the insanity, fun, and awesome characters. The action is over-the-top, entertaining, and mindless, and although not as bloody as I expected, Vaughn’s style is very special and works so well with the action sequences in the film. There’s a certain long-shot sequence that didn’t top the church scene from the first movie for me, but is still a very well-directed scene. It’s not as memorable as the first one, as the violence, music, and directing in the first one felt more fresh, but this movie brings back what I had so much fun with in the predecessor. The soundtrack that includes John Denver and Elton John (who also appears in the film) is also great and feels very fitting in the film.

Taron Egerton is once again fantastic as the protagonist Eggsy who brings so much charm and heart, and I believe he’ll surely be cast in a lot more roles after his breakthrough in these films. Mark Strong gives as much humor and fun as Merlin, who is as hilarious as he as when we met him in the first film. His character has a lot of great moments and brings lots of heart to the film. The new cast includes Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, and Jeff Bridges. Pascal steals a few scenes as Agent Whiskey who is lots of fun to watch and well-written, and Berry is also a good addition to the franchise, but Tatum and Bridges, although very good, weren’t in the film as much as I hoped. Colin Firth’s return is nice but felt a little too forced and heavy handed. Firth tried his best to be as great as he was in the first movie, but the excuse for his return was a little cliche and his character didn’t bring the amusement we got from him when we first met him. I think we would have been much better off not getting that information from the trailers and having the surprise saved for the film, even though his return is revealed in the film’s first act. My main problem in The Golden Circle is the villain, who is ridiculously eccentric, dull and annoying to watch on screen, and her motive completely makes no sense. What made Samuel L. Jackson’s villain from The Secret Service so great is that he had a feeling of charisma and lots of humor, and that we were able to enjoy his villain. Although he wasn’t very menacing, he was plenty of fun and delivered a new sense to his villain, and Moore definitely gives a shot at that sense of charm but ends up making her character feel heavy-handed and boring.

Although some my disagree, I believe The Golden Circle was able to do what a good sequel should do – bring back and build on what appealed from the predecessor, and bring in something new as well. Vaughn has a very recognizable style when it comes to action and editing, and although this wasn’t one of his best, I wasn’t let down by what I got. The characters are built on very well, both the old and new ones,  with arcs that include Eggsy’s romance with the princess of Sweden and the return of another character from the first film. The story at times has elements that don’t make much sense, and a minor subplot about the President of the United States wasn’t very interesting, but I had such a great time seeing the characters return with more great writing, action, and story. If you want to go to the theaters to have a very fun time and get your mind off life, then this is definitely the movie you should see.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle has received mixed reviews from critics, and it’s definitely not as good and original as the first film, but I wasn’t really let down by what I saw. From the awesome action to the great humor and cast, action fans and fans of the predecessor will likely enjoy it like I did.

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Mother!

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Mother! is a film in which a happy couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) living in a house surrounded by woods, are met by uninvited guests in their house, which leads to chaos and turmoil in the house.

If you expect a horror film or a thriller from this, you’ll be let down because this film is much more than that. You can’t put this movie in one genre, it starts as a psychological thriller, with the tension that builds up continuing to intrigue and confuse as you wonder, just like Jennifer Lawrence’s protagonist, what could possibly be happening. Lawrence is absolutely brilliant in the film, showing plenty of emotion and vulnerability as an innocent woman going through a nightmare. She was perfectly casted in the role, and so was Bardem as her character’s charming but complex husband, and Michelle Pfieffer, Ed Harris, and a few other well known stars are good as well. The cinematography is shot on a rare 16mm format which is very appreciable as it’s rare to see movies not shot on film nowadays, and the movie is always either shot from Lawrence’s perspective or with her in the frame. I liked the creative technical style of the film, which also includes the use of zero music throughout the entire runtime, helping establish more intensity. There is lots of imagery that’s never quite explained or revealed and the movie becomes more mysterious and you can’t wait until everything is explained. There is a lot that audiences may enjoy, and then the film switches things up and goes insane during the final act. This last act is the reason many audiences have criticized and polarized the movie. Many have hated it for the disturbing content it displays in the climax, and the allegorical narrative it offers. The ending is quite ambiguous and does betray the genre of the rest of the film, but it’s fascinating how weird it is and how differently everyone can interpret it. I expected an ending that would stay true to what the first two acts offered, and some stuff did bother me on how confusing it turned out to be, but director Darren Aronofsky had an interesting vision and strong passion to make this, and it’s getting people to talk about it. I overall liked the film and appreciate how daring and different it is, but it’s definitely not for everyone, as it’s metaphorical themes and gory content will frustrate many.

Mother! is the weirdest, craziest, most different and least mainstream movie I’ve seen this year. Many have loved it and many have hated it, and I can’t recommend it to everyone because many will be disturbed and disappointed, but the acting, directing, cinematography, tension, and ambiguity make this an insane yet special film to be released in 2017, with many different meanings that it could potentially posses.

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The 2017 FilmToppings Summer Movie Awards

This summer was a great couple of months, as we received lots of great movies in the last few months. I held these awards ceremony for the fourth time, and this year was quite a success! I had lots of votes and more categories this year! Thanks to everyone who helped determine the winners by voting on my Instagram posts! Without further ado, here are the winners:

Best Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes

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Best Cinematography: Dunkirk

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Best Score/Soundtrack: Baby Driver

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Best Supporting Actor: Michael Rooker – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Best Supporting Actress: Eiza Gonzalez – Baby Driver

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Best Screenplay: The Big Sick

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Best Director: Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk

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Best Actor: Andy Serkis – War for the Planet of the Apes

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Best Actress: Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman

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Worst Movie: The Emoji Movie

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Best Movie: Baby Driver

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Those are this summer’s award winners! Once again, I’d like to thank all my followers who participated by voting on my Instagram posts, as well as all those amazing filmmakers who helped us all have awesome times at the movies this summer! Other great films that were nominated but didn’t win any awards include It Comes at Night, Okja, Wind River, Detroit, Logan Lucky, Spider-Man Homecoming, and more! I agree with most of my followers’ picks this year, including the Best Movie! This summer was awesome and I hope this awards season has many more great movies to offer! What were your favorite films this summer and which most deserved to win?

Logan Lucky

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Logan Lucky follows two brothers who attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. This film marks the end of Steven Soderbergh’s short-lived retirement from filmmaking, and I’m glad to say he hasn’t lost his steam since back before he retired. Here, he makes every shot and set feel lively and every scene feel engaging and exciting. The cinematography feels very stylistic and the editing of country and rock music as well as sounds of cars revving make the film very enjoyable to watch and well put together. The writing is tons of fun as well, with some hilarious dialogue and humor put into the film that is brilliantly done. This film has humor that not many movies has to offer, as most comedies nowadays have large budgets and forced and predictable humor, but here, the humor is clever and not always expected. Although the style and humor in this film are outstanding, my favorite part of the film was easily the cast, and the characters they play. Channing Tatum is terrific in a delightful and well-written leading role, and Adam Driver, who has gained fame for playing the main villain in the new Star Wars films, Riley Keough, who has shown lots of talent in films like this and It Comes at Night, and Daniel Craig, who seamlessly trades his British accent for a Southern one, are all hilarious and pleasing in their main roles. The supporting cast, including Seth Macfarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterson, and Hillary Swank are also fantastic. All these characters, even if some of them are complete assholes, are compelling and entertaining to watch, so well put to screen by the talented actors who were very well cast. Even the smaller roles are given very fun and amusing moments. The movie doesn’t try to be something huge or groundbreaking, as the plot isn’t something that will blow your mind as it’s something that’s been done before. It draws similarities to Soderbergh’s heist film Ocean’s Eleven, which he even references in this film, but this still feels like something new and refreshing if you look at the characters, acting, and style that isn’t offered by all films nowadays. The story gets somewhat confusing at the end and could have been a little more clear, but that didn’t make me ignore all the entertainment that this movie has to offer. If you simply want a fun time at the movies, I couldn’t recommend this more.

I had a blast watching Logan Lucky, thanks to Soderbergh’s direction and a wonderful cast. It’s not one of the best movies that’s been released this year, but I think more comedies should have the brilliant energy and humor that this film has. If you’re looking for a movie to keep you entertained, you’ll be lucky to watch this one.

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Good Time

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After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through New York City’s underworld in an increasingly desperate-and dangerous-attempt to get his brother out of jail.

Good Time has gotten lots of buzz ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but I was ultimately let down by what I got here. A24 is known for releasing masterful films with distinctive and creative styles, but the directors’ vision here didn’t work for me. Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh are both great in their roles and carry their scenes very well. Pattinson disappears in his role and Leigh is able to make her scenes interesting, but the overly shaky cinematography and choppy editing toolots of the interest out of the film. Some scenes are written well, and the movie is written as a nonstop ride of sorts, but the film never stops to show us why the characters are doing what they’re doing or why they’re in these situations. The film makes too many cuts throught scenes that could have been more interesting of the camerawork wasn’t so handheld and distracting. The retro score is also edited badly into the film and even annoying and unnecessary in some scenes. We are never given time to feel for our characters or understand why we should root for them, and some of these characters barely served a point. There are lots of scenes that are supposed to be human conversations to make us care for our characters more, but none of that really got me engaged. The intensity in the final act didn’t keep me thrilled at all, and the ending is extremely predictable. By the end, even as the credits roll over the final scene, we are left with nothing to think about or reflect on about what this movie offered. It starts out as a film about brotherhood, and by the end not even the writers know what it’s about. I love crime movies and I think this movie had lots of potential, but despite the critical acclaim, the great acting, and a few well-written scenes, Good Time was ultimately forgettable and failed to live up to the promise of its title.

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