REVIEW: Thor: Ragnarok

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

Time after time, I’ve said that Marvel Studios is the new Pixar. It’s not for nothing that right around the time Pixar’s winning streak began faltering, the Marvel Cinematic Universe came into existence. For 16 movies now, Marvel has consistently delivered great movies. How great? Eight of those sixteen got 4-star ratings from yours truly, with another four getting 4½ stars.

Just four movies have been less than great. Captain America: The First Avenger is the Moonraker of the MCU and thus best not mentioned further. And Iron Man 3 was a little too scattershot to really deliver on every front. That just leaves Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming — the two most recent Marvel movies and the first case of back-to-back 3½-star entries in the MCU.

It all comes down to Thor: Ragnarok. Was this recent slip in quality just a blip, a sloppy Ratatouille before the invigorating WALL-E? Or would Marvel go full Pixar, with each continuing entry now feeling like the desperate exhumation of better days?

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CORE STORY: Thor: Ragnarok cast revealed

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

Captain America: Civil War featured almost every superhero introduced over the span of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, save for two notable exceptions.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) weren’t present narratively, because of what they’re going through in Thor: Ragnarok, Beyond Hemsworth and Ruffalo, though, all that has been learned over the last year is that Natalie Portman would not be returning.

Marvel has now released a statement announcing the cast of the third Thor movie, and while Portman is indeed confirmed to be missing, there are several huge casting choices of note. Continue reading

THE 2016 NOMINEES: Best Actress

Photo: A24/Elevation Pictures

Photo: A24/Elevation Pictures

Chris Luckett

There are just three days left until the Oscars. Have you had trouble finding time to catch up on all the nominated movies? Still want to be able to join in the Oscar conversations at work? Look no further than this six-part guide to the major categories. Today, I look at the nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

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OSCARS 2014: A Look at the Lead Performance Nominees

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Photo: Paramount Pictures

(This is Part 3 of a five-part series looking at the Oscar nominees in the eight major categories. Click here for Part 1 or Part 2.)

Chris Luckett

Ten lead performances are nominated for Academy Awards each year: five male and five female. This year’s batch includes some real heavyweights; despite two of them scoring first-time nominations, the ten actors and actresses up for Lead Performance Oscars have 38 Academy Award nominations between them.

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REVIEW: The Monuments Men

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Chris Luckett

As a director, George Clooney tends to alternate between making alright movies and making excellent movies. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was okay, but Good Night, and Good Luck was fantastic. Leatherheads was fine, but The Ides of March was terrific. Unfortunately, the pendulum’s swung back toward just good with his fifth movie, The Monuments Men.