Reviews: “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Foreigner,” “Geostorm,” “Suburbicon,” “Mountain Between Us”

By | November 20, 2017

All films currently in theaters for a nice change of pace, but not ones sufficiently exciting enough to give their own reviews to…

Thor: Ragnarok…Is Marvel paying film critics? It’s a persistent theory among both DC fans and adults with good taste who wonder why Marvel product keeps getting rubber-stamped? How does a film like this get 92% on Rotten Tomatoes? There’s not a lot in this glib, cynical trash you haven’t seen before, and it reinforces the nagging problem (to me) that the “Thor” movies don’t really have an identity. The first one seemed to be the most effective at creating an actual world (and tone) but it’s fish-out-of-water storyline couldn’t be replicated, so “Thor 2” came along to cast Thor in the closest Marvel has come to the comparatively darker DC-comics world. Literally called “Thor: The Dark World,” it was excitingly gloomy but a lot of Marvel’s infantile fans apparently hated it, and it came nearly close to getting–the horror!–a negative Rotten Tomatoes rating. So they retreat into “Thor: Ragnarok” which looks and feels like a “Guardians of the Galaxy” rip-off. Even worse, it has a neanderthal message about the danger of female rulers (Cate Blanchett’s bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton stand-in) that I’m getting tired of seeing in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Worse still, it’s rumored interracial romance between Thor and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is a bust, as the two never even kiss, and it’s the latest Hollywood example of shoehorning IR love into the friend zone. Grade: C

Foreigner…A tricky Jackie Chan film since it would be inarguably better if Jackie Chan weren’t in it at all. It sets up a fascinating “B-Plot” about Pierce Brosnan’s IRA leader trying to find who’s responsible for the radical terrorist faction setting bombs off in London, and legitimately interesting scenes keep getting interrupted with Chan’s cartoonish karate and acting (he cries a tear here that is so CGI, it might as well be bright red or sparkling). You keep wondering how much better the movie would work (both overall and for the characters inside the film) if Chan weren’t featured at all, and this is the latest film to be about revenge and loss that pretends to say more than it really does on the subject. Jackie Chan’s storyline that belongs in a different movie: C-…The fine film ace-director Martin Campbell has assembled around Brosnan: A-…Together: B-

Geostorm…Embarassing in more ways than one. You can figure out pretty quick that this Chinese-funded film (about a malfunctioning weather control satellite) is going to bash American government types the same way “XXX: The Return of Xander Cage” did (what a surprise, this film’s a hit in China despite poor U.S. returns), but it’s still disappointing when we get there. Not to mention the horrendous acting on the part of the main cast, featuring a quartet of the blandest actors around: Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia, Abbie Cornish, and Jim Sturgess. Grade: D-

Suburbicon…An interesting mess of a movie that director George Clooney has admitted was re-written largely while filming took place. It feels like “Suburbicon” wants to say more than it winds up saying, featuring a subplot about a terrorized black family moving into the all-white 50’s neighborhood this takes place in. Only problem with that subplot is that the family is kept at such an arm’s length (I don’t think the father even gets a line of dialogue) that it’s obvious this is mostly just to serve the main plot that “something is deeply wrong in the placid 50’s America.” The stand-out here is Matt Damon playing his most villainous character in ages, a cross between “The Good Sheperd”‘s cautious spook and Tom Ripley’s more emotional sociopathy. Grade: C

The Mountain Between Us…Somebody might want to show Marvel that this is what it looks like when a film takes an interracial couple seriously. Idris Elba and Kate Winslett have to survive a snowy mountain plane crash and somehow get to safety without freezing to death, starving, or getting eaten. I’m a sucker for survival films, and the romantic and deeply-felt emotional underpinnings of this one (it’s unapologetically a film for adults) got to me. Grade: B+

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