The biggest release of the week is Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok. It was a big hit at the box office and as a fan of Marvel movies, Thor, the first two Thor movies and Norse mythology I totally dug it right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong. If you don’t know anything about Thor and didn’t like the first two Thor movies, you might like this. You might like this a lot. I did not. The biggest issue is Cate Blanchett. I usually like her, but she’s unwatchable as Hela. There was no need for an award-winning actress to play a one-dimensional, overly CGI’d character. Her fight sequences were bad and they should have just used her stunt double Zoe Bell as the actual actress. The Planet Hulk storyline was pointless too. I understand Marvel’s hesitation to do a standalone Hulk film after the first two disappointed, but you shouldn’t have shoehorned in a Planet Hulk story into a Thor film. The only purpose Hulk really has in the film is to fight a giant wolf at the end. Most of the comedy didn’t work for me. A lot of people found the film funny, I did not. I wanted to love Thor: Ragnarok. I thought the trailers were great and I had super high expectations for it. Thor is one of my favorite characters and I thought the movie was going to be super fun. I expected a bunch of cameos to connect films, not a bunch of useless characters and storylines. Benedict Cumberbatch cameos as Doctor Strange and was useless. People who don’t like the character loved the film so maybe that’s you, it’s not me. It’s worth seeing because all of these characters will be in the next Avengers flick so you should watch it to connect timelines. One of the biggest disappointments of 2017 for me, but it does look amazing on Blu-ray and has some good bonus features, I just wish it was a better movie.
Next is Gintama based on a manga. I’m not familiar with the source material, but even if I was still I’d still think this movie was bananas. It’s self-referential, colorful, musical, creative, imaginative and pretty darn crazy. I can’t even tell you if I understood it, but it’s still pretty fun. It takes place in an alternate Edo-period Japan, where an Alien race has taken control, forcing Samurai to lay down their swords. It’s a mix of live-action with CGI and people wearing animal masks and all kinds of special effects. A small group of people want to fight back, but first they hunt for beetles and I have no idea really. There is a penguin or bird type character. There is action and a laser sword and a bunch of stuff that I clearly don’t get. But it’s still pretty fun even if you have no idea what exactly is going on. If you are familiar with the manga you’ll probably love it.
Third is Curse of the Mayans. I was really disappointed in this. It takes close to an hour for anything to happen and by then I didn’t care. I was expecting a SyFy type B-movie, but it’s even worse than that. It opens pretty well with an excavation releasing a Mayan curse, but then the next hour is just people trying to find an area and exploring a cave/pool type place. Then the beings are released and it’s not bad. I did like the effects of the beings, I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to that point. The worst part is, the locations are fantastic. It was shot at old Mayan ruins and the cave/pool is beautiful. I wish more happened because it could have been a solid B-movie. Oh well.
Fourth is The Paris Opera. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to put on a show at the Paris Opera, here is the documentary for you. It’s incredibly in-depth and gives you an inside look at everything, from production to finding talent and much more. A new director takes over the Paris Opera, you see a new young talent, all kinds of craziness that affects production. I quite liked this and it feels like a look behind the curtain. I never really considered just how everything comes together, who is involved, how one production effects another, the marketing of it, sitting a celebrity like Natalie Portman next to the president and so much more. You don’t even need to like opera, ballets, or stage shows to find this interesting.
Mill Creek Entertainment has a slew of releases this week. First is Legend of the American Sniper, a documentary on snipers in the US military and police force. It’s a pretty by the book documentary with interviews with past snipers, trainers and soldiers showing the gear and weapons of today. I did find it interesting though because I come from a military family and support the military. Some of the re-enactments are a bit cheesy, but you aren’t working with actors here. It shows the history of the sniper from Vietnam to today. It also shows the difference in sniping in the military and the police force. Snipers in the military are also info gatherers whereas SWAT and police snipers are there to put down a person. I did like the explanation of the different packs and weapons they use and how they have changed over the past decades.
Mill Creek has a new Blu-ray release of Lords of Dogtown which I’m pretty sure has been released in HD before, but probably not this cheap. The film is about the Z-Boys, three guys who join up with a board designer and change the world of skateboarding. The cast includes Emile Hirsch and Heath Ledger so if you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth seeing. I hadn’t seen it in years so it was a nice reminder of an underrated flick. These guys pretty much created what we think of when it comes to skateboarding and the California lifestyle.
Mill Creek is also releasing two double features from Hammer Films on Blu-ray. First is Maniac and Die Die My Darling. Maniac is about an American falling for a woman in France, but also her daughter. He’s being played by the older woman who’s trying to use him to get her husband released from the nut ward. There is a couple of nice twists to it and people are involved that you don’t expect. Die Die My Darling has a fantastic performance from Tallulah Bankhead as a crazy religious lady. Stefanie Powers plays a young woman who visits the mother (Bankhead) of her dead fiance. Bankhead tries to keep her hostage and has all kinds of crazy religious rules. Donald Sutherland makes an early appearance as a somewhat slow helper. Bankhead’s performance is worth the price of admission.
The other double feature has Never Take Candy from a Stranger and Scream of Fear! Never Take Candy From a Stranger is relevant to this day. It’s about young girls being forced to take their clothes off by an old pervert and the town reacting badly. The one girl and her parents go to the police but they are new to town and the townsfolk don’t believe them. The man accused helped build the town and his family has a ton of power. When the other girl won’t say the same things, the new family is shunned. Of course there is a big ending which I won’t spoil, but I quite liked the film. Scream of Fear! is about a wheelchair bound woman who goes to visit her father and his new wife. He’s not around and she keeps seeing him dead. His new wife doesn’t believe her, but that’s because she has her own agenda. There is a big twist in this one I liked as well which makes the movie pretty darn good.
Mill Creek has a 9 Lives Movie Collection out with a focus on action. Most of these films have been in other collections, but there are a few solid films. The movies are S.W.A.T., Stealth, Vertical Limit, Universal Soldier The Return, Last Action Hero, Blind Fury, Silent Rage, White Line Fever and Into the Sun. You get big names like Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more. The best movies are S.W.A.T. and Last Action Hero with Universal Soldier The Return also being good. I’m sure you’ve seen most of these before, but this is a good grouping.
Mill Creek also has Robert Altman Presents Gun: A 6 Film Anthology. This features six one-hour long episodes with different directors, actors and more. It has a ton of big names including James Gandolfini, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Kathy Baker and so many more. This is from the 1990s, but I had never seen it. It’s pretty cool seeing different people making differing things, but in similar styles. The same gun is used over and over again with different characters and the concept really worked for me. If you remember this, it’s a must own.