Lightning Strikes, Thor: Ragnarök Roars!

img_0536And Yes, ‘Ragnarök’ has an umlaut and it’s lazy not to include it.

Anyway, last week I made the audacious claim that Thor: Ragnarök would likely join the Billion Dollar Club, the hallowed ground where movies that earn at least a billion dollars go during their theatrical runs roam.

And profits matter because as much as some want to make it all about the quality and watchability of a movie–which are important–Hollywood isn’t a charity and if these expensive tentpoles aren’t going to bring adequate returns, they’re going to stop making them.

And it goes without saying that that’s a bit of a double-edged sword because what applies to the original Star Wars trilogy also applied to the Transformers movies 😭.

I mention this because Thor: Ragnarök has crossed the $500 million mark ($502.3 m) not even two weeks into its box office run though it has to be mentioned that it has done so with little in the way of competition–A Bad Mom’s Christmas is less a genuine alternative than cagey counter-programming–till Justice League comes out in about a week’s time.

It’s worth looking at where Thor: Ragnarök is making its money.  Over $350 million of the $503 million it has earned thus far has come from the international box office–$354 million versus $150 million domestically.

That domestic figure is problematic, though I suspect if it reaches $400 million on this end of the pond a billion dollar run is assured, and ironically Justice League could help as much as hinder that from happening.

Expect moviegoers to initially flock to the latest from Warner Bros and DC Entertainment (ironically enough, on the strength of Wonder Woman, a fortuitous accident because there’s no sign Warner Bros expected her to resonate with audiences as much as she did) but that should only slow Thor’s momentum, not stop it outright.

And if Justice League doesn’t meet audience expectations–all those rewrites and reshoots weren’t made out of overwhelming confidence–which has the side effect of increasing the budget to a rumored $300 million.

That’s problematic because if it makes anything under a billion it’s a well-intentioned failure, while Thor: Ragnarök at a budget of $180 million can reach $800 million and be comfortably profitable.

Though as I have written, I see it going higher.

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Is Wonder Woman Really the Highest Earning Superhero Origin Movie?

'Wonder Woman' is highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time - Business Insider copySorry, I don’t buy it Wonder Woman as the ‘highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.

Reason being, it neglect a little movie called Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man isn’t an origin movie, you say?

That’s where we’ll have to differ (because it is).

This iteration of Spider-Man is first introduced in Captain America: Civil War so it technically isn’t his first appearance.  Then again, Wonder Woman was first introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so it wasn’t her’s either.

But what people who say Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t an origin story seem to be missing is that there have been THREE prior versions of the character relatively recently, which means to include it again would bore moviegoers (The Amazing Spider-Man retconned the origin, making Peter Parker’s parents spies–sort of–which was  dumb, though you can at least understand why they did it).

So Marvel Studios took a different approach.  They emphasized Spider-Man growing in the role, so in a sense it is an origin film in that Parker–despite wearing the costume–is not Spider-Man.

Instead he’s awkward, and truth be told, not terribly good at what he does (a fact the movie emphasizes more often than once).

In other words, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an origin story, just not a blatantly obvious one.

Full Metal Alchemist – Official Trailer

Screenshot 2017-11-02 01.51.33I recall that someone explained why it is that Japanese people in anime don’t look particularly Japanese, but I don’t recall the explanation (which implies that it didn’t particularly resonate for me).

I should mention that my feeling also doesn’t apply to all anime.  Characters from the works of Hayao Miyzaki appear distinctly Japanese (in terms of how they’re drawn).

Which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Gantz: 0:  all the characters looked Japanese (which makes sense when something takes place in Japan).

I was bothered as much as anyone else by Scarlett Johansson’s casting as the Major in Ghost in the Shell though less because she was playing a Japanese character–since as I explained earlier, the Major never looked Japanese to me–more than I knew she was despite that fact and therefore should be played by a Japanese person.

Though having seen the trailer for Full Metal Alchemist–filmed with an entirely Japanese cast–it looks a bit…off, especially compared to the episodes of the anime I have seen.

It’s sort of weird, but it reminds me of someone’s interpretation of Full Metal Alchemist–which it obviously is–but I mean in a more deeper, essential sense of who these characters are.

It’s like it were being made especially for the Japanese market–which in a sense it is–after the Hollywood version.

If that makes any sense.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Official Trailer #2

Screenshot 2017-10-10 13.54.53I have to admit that this trailer brought a smile to my face; which I honestly didn’t expect because as of late Star Wars movies have become known for the drama behind the scenes than on the screen since becoming a part of Disney.

And dissatisfaction with a director or the way a story seems to be progressing is by no means uncommon, though with Lucasfilm it seem to occur on a regular basis, such as with Rogue One, and the upcoming Han Solo prequel.

Which is why Rian Johnson’s (Brick, Looper) upcoming The Last Jedi is so refreshing.  It appears that he got the job, and shot the movie.  (Seemingly) No fuss, no muss and thankfully no drama.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Teaser Trailer

I saw The Maze Runner in theaters, and DESPISED it.   It wasn’t a bad movie, was visually attractive and for the most part competently-made.

So what’s the problem?

I found it terribly insulting at times–the glade the characters were in was surrounded by a huge wall, but in the very same scene you see a treehouse (implying that they could have built a structure, like a ladder, to climb it)–and just bland.

And that’s only one example of the insults to the intelligence that comes to mind, and that would be bad enough though to top it with the needless, bizarre, labyrinthine secrets of WCKD is just too much.

It’s needlessly elaborate and more than a little bit pointless.

And in case you don’t feel like reading..:

Tomb Raider – Trailer

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I bet there’re a lot of people asking ‘Who asked for a Tomb Raider reboot?’

And the answer is ‘No one.’  Then again, who asked for new Star Wars films?  Star Trek?

The answer–while there are always people who would love to see more of these characters and the worlds they occupy–is also ‘No’ though the truth is Hollywood can care less what people ‘ask’ for and more what they’ll pay to see.

And Star Wars movies make gobs of money, no matter how plagued with difficulty they appear to be to actually produce.

Combine the tendency to tell people what it is they want to see with the profitability of Wonder Woman–also released by Warner Bros–with a new-found hunger for female-led action films and a reboot of Tomb Raider a no-brainer.

Blade of the Immortal – Red Band Trailer

Despite being a fan of horror cinema, I have only seen two features by Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer and Imprint, an episode of Masters Of Horror) which is only interesting because the man is remarkably prolific.

And while I have no intention of commiting seppuku (which I am reasonably sure a few people will do in the movie) I will have to catch up on my Miike.