Review: Zombieland – Double Tap

Brooke and I saw the original Zombieland back in 2009 and found it pretty revolutionary. We’ve watched it around Halloween in most of the ensuing years because it strikes a great balance between stupid fun and, well, zombies. (Brooke isn’t a huge fan of jump scares, so a movie like this is about as scary as she’s willing to go…)

Well, somewhat surprisingly, they got the gang back together for a sequel 10 years after the original. Emma Stone has an Oscar now, and Woody Harrelson is in quite a few movies nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin aren’t exactly hurting for work, but their schedules were probably the most clear of anyone in the cast. In many ways, it felt like old times, but the earlier portion of the film also felt a bit awkward. Like, yes, these are the same actors playing the same characters a decade later…but that sense of did we really need this to exist?

Don’t get me wrong: Brooke and I laughed quite a bit when we saw it last Thursday (we got a babysitter on a Thursday night…we’re such bad people! ;-)). But leaving the theater, we weren’t talking about the same kinds of things that would generate memes for a decade (like Columbus’ list of Rules for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse). New cast members show up at opportune times and make things interesting, but it sure does seem like this movie is more about these characters than it is about the zombies in said “zombieland.” That’s okay to an extent because we’ve let a decade go by and the audience is interested in what the characters have been doing since the previous movie, and yet what those characters have been doing seems so predictable to the point of well, I probably could have figured that out myself without having to see a movie about it.

So yeah, we enjoyed it, but it definitely didn’t reach the height of the original. I think we’d watch it again, but it’s more likely we’ll just go back to the first one when we want to revisit Zombieland.

However, Bill Murray and Al Roker are national treasures. Their inclusion in this movie is priceless. Give them all the money.

Review: Spider-man – Far From Home

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, there has been a lot of anticipation for what comes next for the MCU. Originally, we were led to believe that Endgame was the actual end of “The Infinity Saga” (i.e. Phase 3), but then we were told that Spider-man: Far From Home would be the actual end.

Spoiler-alert: Tony Stark dies in the end of Endgame. As Tony kinda sorta became a father figure to Peter Parker in Spider-man: Homecoming, and a big part of Endgame is how hard Tony took Peter’s death in Avengers: Infinity War, it made some sense that Far From Home would have to “tie up loose ends” for Peter (oh yeah, he comes back in Endgame…duh…) as he wrestles with a). the lack of Iron Man, b). the idea of him replacing Iron Man, and c). the fact that he was dead for 5 years and was then brought back to life…but still in high school.

The neat thing about the character of Peter Parker, from the very beginning when he was created by Stan Lee, he’s a relatable young person who is trying to deal with having super powers like any of us would. He isn’t “larger than life:” he’s “just like you and me.” So in many ways, it’s a fitting way to wrap up Phase 3 in seeing how the world is now, through the eyes of a young man who is still trying to find his place in this world.

This movie is set up where Peter and his friends go on a class science trip to Europe over the Summer, but of course, bad things happen and he has to put on his costume to deal with the threat. Nick Fury is back to try and explain to him that he has a responsibility to stand up and pick up where Iron Man and the other Avengers left off. At the same time, he just wants to be a kid and go on his trip! Jake Gyllenhaal shows up as Mysterio, so for a time, Peter figures that the weight can be lifted off his shoulders, allowing Mysterio to pick up the mantle and take care of saving lives until Peter is ready to step onto the global stage.

Of course, anyone who knows literally anything about comics knows that Mysterio is a bad guy, so eventually, Peter figures that out, has to step up, and saves the day.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed in this one. I enjoyed it for the most part, but there were more aspects than usual that left me wanting. For example, the Mysterio stuff looked cool (his power is to cast illusions…and honestly, the way they explained that for this movie without it just being straight-up magic was pretty good…), but there was so much CGI that it got distracting. I know there’s a lot of CG in these movies, but for some reason, this one looked overkill to me. Secondly, Peter is in love with MJ now, all the sudden. He had zero interest in her in the last movie and we haven’t seen her in other movies since, so why the sudden “I need to tell her how I feel?” It just didn’t feel earned with how the last movie was left. Lastly, this movie was pretty predictable. We knew Mysterio would be a bad guy, we knew Spider-man would save the day, yada, yada, yada. I know these MCU movies are probably predictable for many people anyway, but again, this one just seemed more by-the-numbers. Star Trek Into Darkness was also predictable because anyone who knows Star Trek knows that Khan is a bad guy, but they story took enough turns from the original Star Trek II that the viewer didn’t quite know how it would resolve.

Again, it was a fun ride. I definitely don’t regret seeing it. It had some funny moments, some good one-liners, the acting was great (Tom Holland is still an inspired choice to play Peter Parker), the set-up for future MCU movies was interesting (both post-credit scenes were actually pretty story heavy rather than throw-away funny scenes).

I just could have used more twists and turns along the way…

Review: Avengers – Endgame

Avengers: Endgame came out two weekends ago. I saw it that Sunday night at 9:20 pm. It’s a 3 hour-long movie. I didn’t get home and in bed until 1:00 am.

I don’t regret any of it.

Granted, it’s taken me over a week to actually type this up, partially because last week was Finals Week at work, and I’ve been busy with All The Things since school was done. At the same time, having a few days between seeing it and writing this has yielded enough time to digest what I saw. There were countless spoiler-laden articles available to read in the intervening days, plus YouTube videos, reviews, and more. The Russo Brothers have been hitting the interview circuit post-release, even going so far as lifting the spoiler warning ban this past Monday so that social media feels more free to brazenly release images, memes and headlines that are more brazen in exposing the key plot points (they had previously implored fans to not post spoilers…)

Again, definitely glad I saw it when I did. Endgame is a movie that is best seen with as little foreknowledge as possible, aside from a deep exposure to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie does more than just revisiting the “greatest hits” of the MCU: it toys with the viewers expectations, pushes them to their limits, and then does exactly what you want to happen while still doing the unexpected. And for being a 3 hour-long movie, it still leaves you wanting more.

If anything, after it was over, I think it felt like I binge watched a miniseries. It was long enough that they fit multiple complex story threads together while also tying up loose ends from 22 other movies in the MCU. And physically revisiting aspects of those movies and making them feel more relevant – seen from a new perspective.

Endgame was awesome. It was sad. It was powerful. It was emotional. It was everything you could want after that many movies. It lived up to the hype and then some.

And that’s all I need to say. I pre-ordered it right when I got home. I look forward to watching it again and again.

Did I mention it was 3 hours long? And still awesome?

P.S. They totally do the whole “signatures” thing like they do at the end credits for Star Trek VI. Yes. This movie is that good.

Review: Captain Marvel

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..??Marvel Studios 2019

There have been 20 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 19 of them have centered on a male lead. One of them (released last year, no less…) at least had a female character listed in the title.

The 21st movie in the MCU, and the first one that features a woman as the lead and title character, had big shoes to fill. Lest we even get into the fact that Avengers: Infinity War ended with 50% of all life in the universe being destroyed, and Captain Marvel being the potential solution…

So, to back up a moment… The character of Captain Marvel goes back a long way, but the version being portrayed in the movie, Captain Marvel, is a more recent addition to the comics. Carol Danvers’ version is described as one of the most powerful heroes in Marvel comics, one that apparently was difficult to bring to the MCU because the whole thing had to be grounded in some semblance of reality first, before the space-faring characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, or Thanos, could really be brought into the fold.

And so, it was decided to hold off on the power of Captain Marvel until later in Phase 3 of the MCU, giving time for stories of Captain America, Iron Man, and the other Avengers to come to a close (and end some contracts along the way). In some ways, I think this was probably the right decision, as her entrance onto the scene is given a great deal of weight: literally reversing Thanos’ “snap” and fixing the events of Infinity War as no one else could.

Oddly, they had to spin things back to the 1990s in order to set things up, so the movie is something of a “period piece,” complete with landing in a Blockbuster Video and waiting for a CD-ROM to load on an old Windows machine. As a child of the 90s myself, I very much appreciated this, though I could imagine many of those details flying over my kids’ heads someday.

The trailers didn’t inspire me with a ton of confidence for Brie Larson‘s performance. I can’t put a pin on why, exactly, as I’d seen her in other movies and thought she did a great job. Perhaps it was knowing that Brie Larson and trying to square that with the characters across the MCU I’ve grown to love over the last 20 movies. Still, those concerns were dashed aside early on: she did a great job and Marvel Studios can absolutely build a franchise around her. Her comedic timing was quite good, despite the fact that she isn’t known for her roles in comedies. Her buddy-buddy banter with Samuel L Jackson was also very good (and the make-up job they do to “de-age” him was really, really impressive).

The other characters were pretty good, though somewhat predictable. Ben Mendelsohn has been in a lot of stuff recently and was good here, despite having his face covered in a prosthetic for most of the movie (and he was surprisingly funny in the role, too). Jude Law didn’t have much heavy lifting to do for his role, but he did alright. Annette Bening hit the interview circuit over the past few weeks and was able to hold back spoilers regarding the nature of her character, which was actually pretty good from a story perspective. Let’s just say that, among these three characters, there was a lot of bouncing back and forth between who is bad and who is good, and it kept the audience guessing to an effective degree.

Ultimately, it was a good movie. It got predictable at points, but again, it’s the 21st movie in a long line of films, so it’s to be expected. Still, the acting was great, the movie was funny, the build-up to “letting Captain Marvel” loose at the end was earned, and she proved herself to be a bad-ass.

Good thing Avengers: Endgame comes out at the end of April…

Review: Spiderman – Into The Spider-Verse

For the past few years, we have gone hiking for New Year’s Day. This year, a few movies came out in mid-December that we simply haven’t had a chance to watch, largely because we’ve been gone on weekends and the only time our theater in town has a movie at 3:00-ish …is on weekends…

Therefore, Brooke and Meg went to see Mary Poppins Returns (and they loved it!) and Calvin and I went to see Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse.

Every since I saw the trailer for this movie, I wanted to see it. You can see pictures that get the idea across (“it’s ‘just’ an animated Spider-man movie”), but you really need to see it in motion to get a sense for how magical it is. It’s animated like a comic book. You see words from time to time on the screen (like Spider-Ham hitting a bad guy with a hammer and seeing the word “BONK” show up above his head). The animation is even “choppy” sometimes, as if you were paging through comics seeing each page a frame at a time. Seriously: the way this movie is animated is unbelievable and perfect.

Second, the voice cast was exceptional. Some of the actors I’ve never heard of (though they were all great), but others like Lily Tomlin, Liev Schreiber, John Mulaney, Mahershala Ali and Nicholas Cage are instantly recognizable. Heck, even Chris Pine is in it for all of 10 seconds.

However, it’s Jake Johnson, Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld that are probably the three “primary” voices heard throughout. Respectively, they’re voicing Peter B. Parker, Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. Without getting to “into the weeds” of Spider-man lore, there was a separate timeline where Peter Parker died and young Miles Morales took on the mantle of Spider-man with his own similar powers, but not identical (for example, Miles can camouflage himself while Peter could not. Gwen Stacy famously died at the hands of the Green Goblin decades ago, but in an alternate timeline, it was Peter who died and Gwen who was bitten by the radioactive spider, granting her powers instead (and going by Spider-Woman, or Spider-Gwen).

I should also note that Miles is a person of color, the son of a black man and a latina woman. He’s also still in high school. The central part of the Peter Parker character when he was first introduced was that he was “just like you, Dear Reader, with real-life problems like homework and girls and rent and getting a job.” As Peter Parker got older, he moved away from that life, just as we all do. What better way to make Spider-man relevant in the modern world than by thrusting him back into high school in Brooklyn?

Now, with decades of Spider-man lore across multiple comic series, timelines, characters…how could one tie that all together? How about having a villain create a super collider beneath New York with the purpose of trying to bring his family back to him from another dimension…and then accidentally pulling Spider-people together into “our” world instead?

Yeah, it’s kinda dumb…but I can’t think of a better way, so we’re going with it. And honestly, seeing all of those characters together in the same universe was cool. Star Trek has done similar things over the years, so I can’t really complain.

Overall, I loved it. Because I’m not as familiar with the Miles Morales “Ultimate Universe” side of Marvel Comics, some of the events were foreign to me, so it’s nice to be surprised. The movie is produced by Sony, so it also kinda tied together the Tobey Maguire Spider-man movies into this one, which was fun.

The movie was genuinely funny, too. There’s a part in the movie where Miles’ uncle is teaching him how to meet girls by putting his hand on her shoulder, looking into her eyes, and saying “hey” in a sultry way. In the movie, Miles struggles to replicate what his uncle is doing, but it serves as a funny moment. After this happened in the movie, Calvin leaned over, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “hey.” And it was hysterical.

So yeah, day one purchase for me when it becomes available. It was very good and showed what animation can bring to to these movies rather than always relying on live-action Marvel films. Highly recommended.

Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp

I wasn’t planning on going to see Ant-Man and The Wasp.  I rented the first one, Ant-Man, after it was available and thought it was fine, but not mind-blowing.  It wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War when I actually kinda liked the Ant-Man character.

But this one was out the same week the kids were at Mimi and Poppy’s house, so I had the time available to go see it in Sedalia, and the reviews were pretty solid, especially as a “palate cleanser” after Avengers: Infinity War, so I went ahead and saw it.

It was a fun movie!  It takes place after the events of Civil War and focuses on Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym searching for Hope’s mother, Janet, who was lost in the Quantum Realm (as we found out in the previous film).  They have to enlist the help of Scott Lang again because he’s the only person to have ever successfully returned from the Quantum Realm (also in the previous film…).  The villain, Ghost, is also interested in finding Janet, but for her own nefarious purposes.

Paul Rudd does an excellent job, as always, and has great comedic buffoonery to throw around, but Evangeline Lilly really steals the show for much of the movie.  This is the first Marvel film where a female has “top billing” along with the male and it shows: this is as much her movie as it is his.  Captain Marvel will be the first female-centered hero movie among Marvel’s slate.

The effects are mostly solid, but I still think the insects look pretty fake.  Not sure they’ve got an alternative on that one, but compared with the other Marvel movies, it just stands out.

I also thought the story, while fun, was a bit contrived.  For reasons I won’t get into, there were three interested parties in obtaining the MacGuffin in the movie, and I’m not sure that was really necessary.  Did they really have to have the slimy arms dealer also chasing after Our Heroes?  Does it really make sense that Ghost happened to need that technology right when Hank and Hope developed it?  It just threw some story elements together in a way that felt awfully convenient.  Again, it was still a fun watch, but the story wasn’t all that compelling.

I’m definitely glad I saw it, though I likely won’t be buying it.  I hope The Wasp ends up being featured more in Avengers 4, as she’s certainly earned it.

Review: Avengers – Infinity War

So many characters…

I’m still a bit conflicted on Avengers: Infinity War. It’s effectively what all of the MCU has been working for since Iron Man released in 2008, though the villain, Thanos, first appeared in The Avengers in 2012 (still a long time). Much like the first Avengers movie, bringing together heroes from the existing MCU films of the time, Infinity War brings all of them in, to varying degrees, to battle the greatest threat to the universe.

And it’s a big threat, as Thanos’ deal is “universal population control,” wiping out half of life in the snap of his fingers.

The film is at times deftly navigated, while also convoluted.  Each character seems to “get their due,” but at the same time, Thanos gets so much time it really does seem like it’s more his movie than an Avengers movie.  I suppose we’ve seen most of these characters together as recently as Captain America: Civil War, though the original team, it’s been since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (and some of those characters, notably Hawkeye, aren’t even in this one…).  I guess I’m saying that I’d have liked to see a bit more interaction between the main Avengers squad, because, you know, it’s an Avengers movie.

That said, we still get to see everyone, and Thanos really does seem to be the threat he’s been played up to be all this time.  The audience has been exposed to the Infinity Stones over multiple movies now, so finally getting to see them “assembled” (see what I did there?) and added to the Infinity Gauntlet was indeed a thrill. Thanos, himself, took some getting used to as he’s entirely CG, but I think Josh Brolin‘s performance mostly came through.  Everyone else was as great as they’ve always been, but again, it just seems like we got so much less of them, even in a 2.5 hr movie.

Ultimately, I think I liked it, but it’s just so hard to judge without seeing Avengers 4.  This movie ends on a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, effectively blowing up the MCU, and we’ll have to wait another year to see how it all pans out.  There’s a lot going on in this one and I think, for the most part, it’s handled as well as could possibly be expected.

I just wanna see Tony Stark and Steve Rogers hug it out, though…

Review: Justice League

Let’s be honest: I really wasn’t planning on seeing Justice League in theaters.  I didn’t particularly care for Man of Steel, I thought Batman v Superman was pretty dumb, and critics largely panned Justice League.  But, Travis thought it’d be fun to see The Last Jedi and Justice League back-to-back (refillable popcorn and soda, right?), so I obliged.

DC did a pretty good job with Wonder Woman, which I rented before seeing Justice League.  Her character is probably the best developed of all of the DC superheros on the big screen, at this rate, as Batman has only appeared in this iteration in one movie, and Superman spent much of his time “becoming Superman” in his first movie that we didn’t really get to see much of the hero himself until Batman v Superman (which was a bad movie).  Of all the characters, the viewer cares about Wonder Woman, whereas most of these rest of these characters are just unlikable.

I shouldn’t go that far: we hadn’t even met Cyborg, Aquaman or Flash before this movie, so we had to “get to know them” for a pretty solid chunk.  All three are…”fine”…but viewers had little reason to be invested in their backstories.  Marvel did a far better job of this in the MCU by breaking out all of the Avengers into their own separate movies before throwing them together against an all-powerful villain.  In Justice League, we spend so much time learning the backstory of Flash, Cyborg and to a lesser degree, Aquaman, that we don’t have much of a reason to care about their presence.

Speaking of “all-powerful villains,” our baddie in this movie was Steppenwolf.  Seriously. Who the heck is Steppenwolf, you may be asking?  Well, besides writing “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” he apparently first appeared in the 1970s and shows up literally “from time to time” in DC comics history.  The Wikipedia entry on this guy illustrates how “not really interesting” this villain is.  Certainly no Lex Luthor or Doomsday (who was utterly wasted in Batman v Superman)…  It’s likely DC only went with Steppenwolf to foretell the appearance of Darkseid, but seriously, DC, what were you thinking?!  An entirely CG character that most people have never heard of as your first villain against your “super team” for what should be the biggest movie in your universe??!!

So yeah, the villain, not so good.  The character development, not so good.  Effects?  Well, the last 30-40 minutes were filmed on a green screen.  Just about literally.  And it was very noticeable.

Ultimately, not a fan of this one.  I really didn’t expect to love it, but glad I saw it so I can rail on it more intelligently.  It definitely had a few comedic lines, but it’s no wonder Ben Affleck wants to run from the franchise as soon as he possibly can…

Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I generally liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film prior to this one in the more modern take on the classic Star Wars franchise.  My main gripe with The Force Awakens was that it was in many was a rehash of the very first Star Wars movie.  It was a very well done “rehash,” but it was basically the same thing with prettier effects and better acting.

The hope was that the next movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, would  build upon that foundation without becoming a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back and, for the most part, it isn’t that.  Instead, it mixes and matches elements of Empire with Return of the Jedi, while also trying to drive the franchise in a somewhat different direction.

Regarding the plot, we pick up just about where we left off after Force Awakens: the First Order is chasing the Resistance, trying to stamp them out after they successfully destroyed the Starkiller Base in the previous movie; and Rey is trying to get Luke Skywalker to return to the fold and take on Kylo Ren.  Again, in many ways, this is how Empire Strikes Back took shape, as Luke was seeking Yoda’s help in exile.  This movie doesn’t involve taking refuge in Cloud City, but instead involves a race against the clock where the First Order capital ships are slowly picking away at Resistance ships as they run out of fuel.  Various characters try to get help in order to ensure that our heroes make it safely to an old Rebel base where they hope to wait out the First Order and survive to fight another day.

Ultimately, this part of the story wasn’t all that impressive to me.  It seemed “small” to me.  Not really “galactic destiny hanging in the balance”-type stuff.  I suppose Empire Strikes Back wasn’t really about that either, but oh well.

The real story in this movie centers on Rey and Luke, and then Rey and Kylo Ren.  Luke Skywalker is resistant to returning because he feels responsible for what happened to Kylo.  At the same time, he recognizes the same power in Rey that Kylo had, so he doesn’t want to screw up with her like he did with him.

There are quite a few spoilery elements that could be avoided, but I’m going to mention one here because it’s been making the rounds among the internet illiterati since the movie came out.  The Force Awakens takes great pains to not tell the viewers who Rey’s parents are, even though she’s trying to find out, herself.  Everyone speculated that she’s somehow related to the Skywalker line just like Kylo Ren is (whose parents are Leia and Han Solo).  In The Last Jedi, we found out that her parents are…nobody!  Just random traders who gave her up for cash, effectively.

Personally, I’m fine with this.  However, it opens up a “can of worms,” so to speak, where just about anyone is now capable of using “force powers” (this is alluded to in a few other scenes near the end of the movie).  Some feel that “the force” is cheapened, where you don’t have to be “special” anymore to wield a lightsaber or control minds.  If Rey is, in fact, a “nobody,” then anyone can do this if they train for it.  It also calls into question why, exactly, the Jedi died out in the first place, if they could have just made more Jedi.

So yeah, again, I’m fine with this revelation about her heritage.  But this seemingly significant change to Star Wars canon (among many others that show up in this movie) make me question where they’re going for Episode IX.  The Last Jedi contains elements of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so it kinda wraps things up and doesn’t leave much else aside from a final confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren.  While I’m sure that could be interesting, I’m a bit afraid they’re going to keep milking this for longer than they should.  They need to be done with this leg of the franchise after Episode IX and should start an entirely new trilogy in a decade or more with Episode X.

The Last Jedi sets it up for “The Next Generation” to take over better than The Force Awakens did, but I’m afraid they’re only really leaving one movie for that to happen.  Which means Episode IX has a lot to do in order to bring this trilogy to a close effectively.

I hope they can do it.  This movie was solid and entertaining.  It was well made, well acted, and though long at 2.5 hours, it didn’t feel too long. There were too many CGI characters, but most of them were focused in a few scenes that I forgot about it after awhile.

Ultimately, much like The Force Awakens, it’s tough to fully judge The Last Jedi until we’ve got Episode IX available to watch.

Review: Thor – Ragnarok

It’s been a busy few weeks, so it took me a little longer than I preferred to get this written down, but I loved Thor: Ragnarok when I saw it two weekends ago.

First, let me back up a sec: I generally haven’t been a fan of the Thor movies.  The first one was boring, had way too much CG going on, and I really didn’t care for any of the characters.  The second one, Thor: The Dark World, was less boring, but still didn’t seem all that necessary in the grand scheme of things (Note: Technically, they did bring in one of the Infinity Stones, but they didn’t make a big deal about it until after the credits, so did it really matter all that much?  I guess not?  Who knows).

Anyway, the very first trailer for Ragnarok set a different tone from the outset: this movie would be funny and irreverent, and likely a departure from the earlier Thor movies.  It made it look more like a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy than Thor.  Heck, it used Immigrant Song in a trailer to great effect.

And it didn’t disappoint.

The film kicks off with Thor in a precarious situation that involves more comedic lines than the entirety of the first two movies, so the viewer gets a good idea of what to expect.  Chris Hemsworth‘s comedic chops have been used to great effect in other movies like Ghostbusters, so it’s good to let him “breathe” a bit in his own Marvel movie.  He’s certainly been funny in the Avengers franchise, but never to this level.  After returning home to Asgard, he finds things are not as he left it because his brother, Loki, has surreptitiously been leading in their father’s place.

Cutting a bit forward, due to some pretty important plot bits, their sister, Hela, breaks out of her prison and seeks to take out Asgard.  In the process, Thor is banished to Sakaar, where a series of intergalactic gladiatorial games take place.  Conveniently, Thor finds Hulk there, where he’s been for the past few years since Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The rest of the plot, predictably, involves their return (with the help of a new character, Valkyrie) to Asgard to fight Hela and her minions.

“Predictably” kinda sums up the movie, really.  It’s pretty obvious where things go, especially if you’ve seen any of the trailers, but it’s just so darned fun, you don’t really care.  They finally get into a rhythm in this movie where you have fun while you watch, rather than dealing with Thor’s brooding personality that was established in previous films.  It’s almost as if he’s a completely new character, when in reality, it’s Hemsworth finally getting to just be himself.

Ultimately, though the plot was predictable, I still had a great time with it.  Already pre-ordered it to add to the collection.