Thor: Ragnarok

Image credit: Disney

The powerhouse that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe is showing no signs of slowing down with its latest edition, Thor: Ragnarok.

With such a high standard to live up to, this newest Marvel film has still managed to bring something new to the table. Director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) creates the perfect mix of edge-of-you-seat action with witty comedy that will have you in stitches.

Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor when a threat arises that could see then end of Asgard. Unfortunately for the God of Thunder, before he can face that, he must survive a gladiatorial contest where he is pitted against none other than the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

Ragnarok brings new and old characters together to face the new big bag threatening the universe. While comic fans may know some of these new additions, as is the rule with all Marvel movies, Thor is crafted in a way to keep current fans from getting bored with hidden easter eggs, but still be perfectly coherent to casual fans of the film franchise.

More and more, characters from previous Marvel films are being slotted in to fill small parts of the storyline, without becoming major players. This continued interconnectedness shows serious dedication to their stories and really give viewers the sense that this is a whole new world they have created.

A lot happens in Thor: Ragnarok which means the story line has to move quickly. Not a scene is wasted however, and you don’t feel like anything has been rushed with how perfectly everything falls into its place.

Taking a leaf from Guardians of the Galaxy, a kick-ass soundtrack of power ballads carries the retro vibe this film is saturated in. These carefully chosen songs placed at just the right moments give a huge boost to the energy of this action packed sequel.

Along with the soundtrack, a heavy use of bright colours and lights in the design of the locations and characters is different to the pervious Thor films, helping with the mix of action and levity.

Fans of Director Taika Waititi’s work will likely recognise his slightly quirky style woven through the movie. It is this style that ultimately finds the balance between making fans laugh and giving a strong, emotive story.

Along with all the mandatory Marvel easter eggs throughout the film, Waititi has cleverly added plenty of references that will likely only make sense to Australian and New Zealand fans.

Marvel are well and truly ahead of the pack when it comes to superhero films and only really have themselves to compete with. But that doesn’t stop them from continuously besting themselves with each new endeavour, and Thor: Ragnarok is a prime example of that.

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Arrival

Image: Paramount Pictures

In a post 9/11 world, having multiple phones around you going off and receiving requests to turn on a news channel is sure to inspire fear. For linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an attack is not what she finds, but instead, the arrival of interplanetary visitors.

12 identical pods set down at seemingly random coordinates around the Earth; and with no governing body, the human race soon discover how hard it can be to work together. In an effort to understand what the beings inside these devices want, US army officer Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlists the help of experts such as Banks and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

What could be described as animalistic sounds make up the spoken dialogue for the visitors, suggesting that beings don’t have to speak a seemingly humanoid dialect to be considered sentient and intelligent. Their written language however, is where things truly start to get interesting.

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Star Trek: Beyond

To boldly go where no man has gone before. Anyone how has watched any part of the Star Trek franchise knows that, although exciting, these words usually spell trouble for the member of Starfleet. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are no exception.

But before things take a turn for the worse, we get to have a few laughs at the expense of Captain James T. Kirk as her wades through one of the less exciting duties of a Starship captain. It’s these little bits and pieces of humour that really make the Star Trek movies extra enjoyable for me. Even though, they are mostly serious and action packed, the writers still take the time to make you chuckle.

The levity however is soon interrupted when the lone escapee of a downed ship requests the help of the Enterprise to rescue her shipmates. The catch? Her ship is on the other side of a dangerous, uncharted, and, for most ships, impassable nebula.

From there it’s a rollercoaster of new enemies with the technology to rip into the Enterprise like she’s nothing more than a soft drink can.

The effects used to create the aliens, space craft and battles are amazing to say the least. The first space battle we see is nothing short of astounding. It really sets the scene and raises the bar for what we should expect from the rest of the film.

Returning from the first two films are the amazing command crew. We have Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Simon Pegg), Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine).

Having served together for a few years now, you can see them starting to really mature and settle into their roles as part of the crew, and their little, make-shift family. You also start to see the effect that spending such long periods of time isolated in space can have on someone.

There’s quite a bit more I could say but I’m going to stop now to avoid spoilers. If you’re a lifelong Trekkie, new to the fandom, or just after something fast paced and exciting to watch, check out Star Trek: Beyond.

Live long and prosper.