Friday, November 10, 2017

Thor Ragnarok

Funniest Marvel movie yet? Mm . . . it got a few chuckles out of me, but I would have put Deadpool and Dr. Strange -- two movies Jesse David Fox doesn't even mention -- ahead of TR.
"Deadpool? Seriously?"
Genuine laughter erupts from the element of surprise, and there wasn't much of that to be had in this movie -- Oh (channeling inner-Jeff-Goldblum:), and HUGE thanks, trailer-people, for rolling out the movie's single biggest laugh to get people into the tent. Good work, give yourselves all a big pat on the back. (Jerks.)

MZS hits all the right notes with his review ("A close-but-no-cigar movie"), so I'll send you there and kvetch instead on an element of the aesthetic that (predictably) gets me cogitating: Marvel's use of 3D CGI. I'm working with stills from the various trailers, i.e. visuals selected to quickly capture and keep viewer attention, so I can't zero in on the particular scenes that struck me. But see if you can't spot where I'm going, regardless:
The gathered masses, a flotilla of sky-boats above a fortress city of spires -- one could argue this tableau is Kirby-esque. There is a particularity of detail, however, that . . . well, I don't know whether it would have caused Kirby to blush or turn green with envy. But for this viewer, that much "too much" nudges me into boredom.

Here's what I got when I Googled "Jack Kirby gathered masses":
Not quite Valhalla, but unmistakably Kirby.
In contrast to movies, comic books are an immeasurably more interactive medium. A kid can glance at that spread, flip to the exciting part of the story -- then flip back again, to catch what he missed, or just savour the artist's mastery of form, etc. A film's gotta keep moving forward til the end credits roll.

To be fair to the filmmakers, Marvel's animators seem to recognize this impediment. While other scenes and set-pieces buzz with Lucasian clutter, the battle scenes invariably resort to slow-motion -- the better for hapless movie goers to admire the CGI goods.

Here's a typical battle scene:
A veritable mudslide of detail, it nevertheless has visual narrative cogency, albeit of a rudimentary Raphaelite variety.
While regarding Raphael's Transfiguration the eye moves from up-to-down and back again, or vice versa, depending on the viewer. The Marvel animators stick with upper-left-corner-to-lower-right, or vice versa -- depending on the necessary visual cues (preceding scene/next scene).

These battle scenes are visually impressive, employing an effect that, although akin to what we've already seen in the Jackson-Tolkien movies or 300, has a brocaded intricacy unique to Marvel 3D. Sitting in the middle row of a darkened theatre and watching a Marvel 3D Slo-Mo Battle Crescendo is a surprisingly miniature affair. Paradoxically, it's like watching a time-lapse video of someone engraving Dürer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse onto a grain of rice.

Alright, one final scene for your consideration -- take a look:
Ah, Cate Blanchett! Could anything distract from those fabulous shoulders?

'nuff said.


Joel Swagman said...

From the standpoint of a viewer, I agree that I would have enjoyed that Hulk reveal a lot more if it had been a surprise. But from the standpoint of marketing... they pretty much had to show that in the trailer. They couldn't have not shown that and still kept their jobs.

(PS... I know you left the reveal ambiguous in your post, but I trust I'm not spoiling anything anyone doesn't already know at this point.)

Whisky Prajer said...

That trailer was inescapable, so I don't think there's anyone left to get spoiled. I think I'm not so bitter about the reveal as I am that there weren't bigger laughs yet in store for ticket buyers.

Whisky Prajer said...

But it bears saying outright, I had a fine enough time.

paul bowman said...

Came home from seeing it — the 11 a.m. kiddie matinee — a little while ago. Two hours of tedium, not helped by having watched Age of Ultron on Amazon last night in order to be more or less up to speed. I went because I want to call Dave back in Baltimore and be able to say I saw it. But man, how powerfully it hit me that 99% of what pleasure there is in the spectacle has always been in sharing it with him. Apart from that, so much is just waiting for scenes to play out.

At least it’s a decently overcast, blustery day here, and coming out into the early afternoon wasn’t the jolt that re-entry from Blade Runner was a few weeks back. Stopped in at the library, too, walking home, and checked out a book to accompany me traveling back & forth to Virginia next week. It is good to feel like part of the neighborhood. Next movie I see at the place needs to be something less of a chore, though.

Whisky Prajer said...

Age of Ultron - yikes. I've not yet seen Civil War(!), so I suppose there were subtleties I missed in this viewing. But I'm with you 100% about enjoying something with the right company. Took the younger to this, then had supper at the Thai place down the street, so it was all very good. I would never have seen this solo, however.

We just watched Villeneuve's Arrival at home. A well-above-average SF flick, I thought. I tried to see it on the big screen, but things never came together for me, and I felt robbed after watching it on the home screen. How nice, though, that we can watch movies in their actual format on a reasonably sized flatscreen. I feel blessed, to be honest. In this regard, I live in the future I hoped for.