10 Reasons Why Thor Ragnarok Is The Best Thor Movie

The latest Thor movie from Marvel, Thor Ragnarok, has been released to moviegoers, and it has been received with strong reviews and an even stronger attendance. The crowds seem to agree that this Thor is a hit, and it comes in at a point where a lot of entries in a movie series start to lose steam. But instead, it feels like Thor has been rejuvenated, and it has left me looking forward to seeing the next one.  In fact, I believe that Thor Ragnarok is the best Thor movie to date, hands down. Here are 10 reasons why I think so (caution: spoiler alert).

Thor Ragnarok Poster
Movie Poster Copyright Marvel

1. Even though the story in Thor Ragnarok is of Epic proportions, it avoids the boilerplate epic movie format.

The plot in Thor Ragnarok is actually pretty heavy, with the potential destruction of Asgard and the known universe itself. But despite this massive threat (definitely up there with Lord Of The Rings), at no time does the movie feel like an epic story. No doubt there is a time and place for such an approach, but I suspect moviegoers are getting a little tired of the epic approach so often seen in other movies of this magnitude. I don’t think Ragnarok even had the serious epic heroic poses moments, and I didn’t miss them at all.

2. The Music.

I have to mention the music used in Thor Ragnarok. In particular, how cool was Led Zeppelin used in the fight scenes? I have never seen the Immigrant Song better used, and it rocked the place, setting the perfect mood.

It’s interesting to note the song Immigrant Song contains the words “Hammer of the Gods”. How much more perfect can it get than that for a Thor movie? Some things were just naturally predetermined to go together, obviously.

3. Thor appears vulnerable, making him more like the rest of us.

Sure, Thor is a god by definition, but in Ragnarok, he appears to be much more human. In fact, he is having a very rough day of it all. From having a haircut forced on him by a scary contraption to losing one of his eyes, Thor shows a vulnerability that most people would never associate with the God of Thunder. And that makes him more relatable to all of us.

But it’s not just physical vulnerabilities that are on display in Thor Ragnarok. We get to see Thor having his feelings hurt and his ambitions questioned. The soul-searching talk with the Hulk shows a softer side of the heroes without being overly wordy (thanks to the Hulk). Thor reaches out to the big green guy and shows real concern for Bruce Banner being trapped inside. But the movie gets the meaning across without resorting to a long, drawn-out emotional scene.

Early on Thor loses his prized possession, his hammer, and we find Thor talking wistfully about it later as he mentions how he used to twirl it and fly. Thor is hurting from his loss, and it shows.

4. The movie shows that even without his main weapon, his hammer, the Hero still wins the day.

In the past Thor movies, it seemed like the audience was always wondering as to how he was going to use his hammer next to save the day. And for good reason, since having that much power at your constant beckon call is a tool that you can’t easily ignore when telling the story.

But in Ragnarok, Thor’s hammer is removed at close to the start of the movie. From this point on the story is about Thor, not Thor and his hammer. Of course, I hope he gets it back in a later movie, but it was good to see that side of Thor without his always ready weapon.

5. The movie tone is much more approachable than previous Thor movies.

Thor Ragnarok manages to avoid the epic and serious tone of the previous Thor movies. Nowhere is this more noticeable than with how Thor himself is portrayed.  Instead of being invited along for the ride of the movie, Ragnarok draws us in and lets us experience some of the emotions as Thor himself feels it. Being able to relate to the God of Thunder tears down that distance between the normal viewer and the hero, making it feel more intimate and approachable.

Of course, the lighthearted aspects of the movie doesn’t hurt in this regard.  Being able to laugh at a situation instead of being consumed by it builds a trust between people, and it would seem that trust is in play between moviegoers and Thor as he works his way through the events of Ragnarok.

6. Minor characters have a well used and entertaining role.

Some of my favorite moments in Ragnarok weren’t even the main characters. The surfer rock dude is a great example of this, presenting comedic relief as it moves the story forward.

7. The movie shows the female warrior side of Asgard.

So far the Thor movies have done a good job of showing the warrior side of the gods from Asgard, as we have seen from Thor, his brother, and even Odin himself. But the women were shown to be more god-like and aloof.

Ragnarok changes that, and now we have female warriors from Asgard that are even more potent than their men counterparts. Obviously Thor’s sister Hela is a powerful force to contend with, and she proves to be more than a match for Thor as she crushes his beloved hammer and soundly beats him in battle.

But it’s not only the female gods that are powerful in Asgard. The Valkyries, the protective female warriors of old in Asgard, are brought to the light as very formidable beings to respect. Even Thor is shown to have respect and admiration for these elite warriors as he admits that he wanted to be one in his youth.

8. Thor Ragnarok plays to your intelligence, not just your adrenaline.

Let it be said that there is plenty of action in the movie, and as you would expect in a Marvel Hero movie there are plenty of fight scenes to entertain. But the story doesn’t keep beating you over the head with how important the events are that are unfolding. Sure, all of Asgard and even the known universe is at stake, but we still have time to explore Hulk’s softer side without losing sight of that fact. Ragnarok assumes that the viewer can properly keep things straight as it takes the moment to pause between action scenes.

9. The movie shows an almost human history of Asgard that previously we were not allowed to see.

In previous Thor movies, we were asked to accept at face value that Asgard existed and was in control of its fate. But in Ragnarok, we find out how Asgard came to power, and we were shown the price of that rise to power. There were many wars and deaths that were necessary to bring Asgard to its seat of power, and even Odin’s greatest weapon, Thor’s sister Hela, ended up being a victim of its rise.

Showing the history of Asgard and its very real, almost human cost makes the story more believable. I don’t think people, in general, have an understanding of eternity or the power of a God, but knowing that something exists thanks to a powerful struggle to get it there makes it more relatable and appreciated.

10. The actors play a natural part.

One thing that Thor Ragnarok manages to do is to match the characters to the actors playing the part. Nowhere is this more apparent than having Jeff Goldblum play a very, well, Goldblum character. The actor plays this entertaining character to his natural strengths, and the movie is better for it.

Anthony Hopkins as Odin also delivers a part that seemed to be made for him. I can easily believe that Odin’s time is ending, and he is the ultimate Hero for Asgard as he realizes that Asgard exists not because of the place, but because of the people. His seeming sacrifice for Thor and being there for him later for advice seems like something the actor would do. The part seems natural.

While no doubt we will see a new Thor movie at some point in the future (especially with the box office numbers Ragnarok is returning), it is good to see that the movie series can reinvent itself in order to keep everything fresh. I have no idea as to the tone of the next movie, but I believe that Marvel has given Thor a solid foundation from which to tell new stories. After all, we may have just discovered that we actually like the guy.

Time Travel In Popular Fiction Explained

Photo Credit Minute Physics (sourced from Video)

It seems like we never get tired of time travel mechanics in TV shows and movies (well, at least it seems like I don’t). From countless Star Trek episodes to movies like Groundhog Day and the more current doppelgänger  Happy Death Day, time travel provides a way to trip with the time fantastic and explore the incredible power of the do-over.  But it’s hard to keep track of all the different ways time travel works in the story. Fortunately Minute Physics has made a video that does a pretty good job of explaining these mechanics in popular usage:

 

 

Of course, I have to say that I am a little disappointed that neither of Keith Laumer’s classic master works on time travel, Other Side of Time and Dinosaur Beach, were not referenced in the video, but other than that it’s a pretty cool watch.

Going Boldly With Starship Valiant

When it comes to Star Trek, I have always considered the TV shows to be a much superior product than any of the movies to date. And it’s a great time to be a fan of TV Star Trek, because we have several completed series to enjoy (The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, The Animated Series, and Enterprise) and  a new series coming to CBS All Access in 2017 (Star Trek Discovery). But the offerings don’t stop there – we also have some great fan made projects that more than stand on their own laurels.  Some of  these efforts expand upon the original characters, tapping into a rich universe of settings and history to tell their unique story. And one effort that is doing it as well as anyone is Starship Valiant.

Starship Valiant

The Starship Valiant stories take place aboard the starship USS Valiant NCC-1707, in the timeframe roughly equal with The Original Series. The vessel is helmed by Jackson K. Bishop (played by the multifaceted Michael L. King), a complex individual that is calm under pressure and quick to strive for a resolution. The second in command is the ever capable Leeza S. Kennedy, and together, along with a formidable crew of Star Fleet’s finest, they take the USS Valiant where it is needed, often into hostile territory.

Starship Valiant

But the producers of the series are quick to pull the story back down from the stars and the technology and make it into a human one. This was one thing that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was keen on doing, keeping it with his “Wagon Train To The Stars” original concept.  And I have not seen this done any better than with Starship Valiant’s latest story, “Starship Valiant: Crosses to Bear”.

“Crosses to Bear” explores the struggles and challenges that are faced by a doctor on a starship. In this episode a lot of the “action” takes place in the sickbay.  I won’t give anything away, but the title is a prefect fit for the episode.  David Cox, who plays Chief Medical Officer Roger Floyd, delivers a strong performance that showcases the humanity of it all. The episode is described as a story from the Starship Valiant Universe, and I find that the shorter run time (less than 30 minutes) works very well in this format.

You can find the episodes to date on the Starship Valiant YouTube channel, and the “Crosses to Bear” episode is here. Also, be sure to check out the behind the scenes features and more that the cast and crew have put together. Below is the trailer for “Starship Valiant: Crosses to Bear”.

 

Looping Infinity Squared Film Explains Popular Time Travel Mechanics

Time travel is a popular story mechanic that is used in a lot of modern (and classic) science fiction stories. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Keith Laumer,  practically made a career out of it (Dinosaur Beach, Other Side of Time). But did you ever stop and consider how many different time travel mechanics are in use in popular stories?

Infinity Squared

 

Jake Roper of Vsauce3 has certainly considered these, and has even created a video that breaks it all down for the curious armchair time traveler. The resulting short film, Infinity Squared, is an entertaining look at time travel. Well, I should probably reconsider the phrase “short film” here, since the video was created in a 10 hour looping video format. Now that should help to illustrate the point.

 


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Infinity

The earliest recorded idea of infinity comes from Anaximander, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus. He used the word apeiron which means infinite or limitless.

source:wikipedia

The Short Adventure of Hum The Robot

What do you do if you are a lonely robot, doomed to a life of menial kitchen service, and then discover that there is more to your existence? Tom Teller and his crew from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts attempt to answer that question with this award winning short film. The animation was a project for their advanced production class.

 

Hum Short Film

The robot Hum (ho-hum, maybe?) is happy enough in his kitchen workplace when his epiphany occurs. In many ways, the film could serve as a example that we all could possibly look beyond our existence and see more than we normally do on a daily basis. And, just as it does for the robot,  you can never tell when just such an opportunity might present itself. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see that Hum, in his own way, deserves to be the hero of the story.

The short but somewhat gritty film lets us peak into this voyage of discovery with an ending that – well, I won’t spoil anything for you.