In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed. (IMDb)
Its quirky exterior (love that soundtrack and those earrings) fits the story on first blush (the telemarketing bosses provide lots of laughs; Cassius is a loveable existence-pondering lead) but then through the indie candy coating burst some terrifying plot points (see the final riot through the crack) and provoking and poignant thoughts on capitalism and the normalizing of evil–all of it creating this quasi-surrealist sort of tone that’s highly discomforting in how ultimately real it feels.
Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, and must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, which is at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela. (IMDb)
Thor is released from his cheesy-golden-Viking realm (“Asgard is not a place, it’s a people”) to super fun results: Hemsworth oozes goofy charm (“No, I won. Easily”) and serves as a solid lead for the fast-paced script. An eclectic supporting cast (the amiable Kiwi Korg and goofy Grandmaster are comedy gold-blum), fun cameos, a suitably intimidating villain, and just the right amount of trope subversions (see the opening scene) amidst the serious moments (see Loki’s final catch) fill it out.
A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. (IMDb)
Ultimately unhelpful flash-forwards and -backs mar an otherwise immersive (viscerally more than intellectually–the ending didn’t satisfy) sci-fi experience initiated by the haunting homecoming scene early on: solid turns, an intense score, and monumental visuals carry the film from spooky (see the first wake-up) to grisly (see the bear attack; stomach cut) to weird (see the trippy cave scene), with just an unforgettable sense of “WTF is going on!?” (both in awe and terror) pervading it all.