Tag Archives: Tom Hiddleston

A Big Ape, An Island, And Disgusting Monsters

I originally had my doubts about extensively reviving the Toho cinematic universe. With all those monsters, I feared it would disintegrate into a cluttered, implausible (I mean, REALLY implausible) mess. If Kong: Skull Island (2017,  Legendary Entertainment and Warner Brothers, directed by Jordan Vogt Roberts) is any indication, I need not have worried.

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I can’t say this about every movie that Toho distributed, but some of them had mind-capturing, enduring concepts.  I come across them every now and then when I’m spinning channels, get interested, and ultimately end up disappointed by the special effects. But… oh, those concepts. That’s why I started watching the Legendary/Warner Brothers franchise. To date, the special effects have delivered, and the stories are interesting. I like the re-imagined take which pays homage to the original movies while adapting the plots and themes more to the expectations of a modern audience.

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I like the background explanation of monsters living deep in the oceans and in earth’s crust, where they can feed on radiation. In this light, this latest iteration of the giant ape provides a backstory in a period piece format.  We get glimpses of World War II and Viet Nam war imagery mixed in with the Kaiju format, and I found the combination kind of refreshing.

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The cast is very good, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly…

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… John Goodman as an underfunded leader of MONARCH in its early days…

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… and Samuel L. Jackson in his own Heart of Darkness cinematic turn.

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But the character interactions and the characters themselves provide a backdrop for Kong and other assorted monsters, some of which are absolutely disgusting. The latter are given some scenes to match their nature. Mostly, however, the visuals were innovative, fun, and “realistic”.

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I thought the plot was good for a film in this genre, but I’ll forego giving a synopsis… Wait. You say you want one anyway? Oh, okay. Here:

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By the way, he’s still growing…

Despite the success of the Marvel and Jurassic Park franchises (which I love, by the way) this has the potential to become my favorite (for strictly personal reasons). At any rate, it is a cinematic universe which this 64-year-old fifth grade boy looks forward to exploring.

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Thor: Ragnarok – What I Missed (Part 1)

thor 6I had mixed feelings as I sat in my seat waiting for the outro at the end of the credits for Thor: Ragnarok. On the one hand, I was thoroughly entertained for over two hours. On the other, I was disappointed by what I hadn’t seen. I realize that appreciation can be colored by prior expectations, and I really expected a lot out of this movie (maybe too much). I’ll have to see it again to get a more balanced perspective.  I’ll divide my comments into three areas: what I liked, what I didn’t like, and (perhaps most importantly) what I missed.

To begin with, I loved the first part. The opening sequence was visually satisfying, and the dialogue and action were engaging.

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It is in this opening that we meet Surtur, the fire demon who is capably played by Clancy Brown.

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We also meet Skurge, the negligent interim keeper of the Bifrost, as played by Karl Urban.

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The segment with Doctor Strange might have been a bit incongruous, but it was visually effective and very interesting. I am very intrigued by this character.

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The first scene where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) speak one last time with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) was beautifully done, and I liked seeing Odin portrayed as an old man in normal clothing. The idea of gods among us in the guise of mere mortals resonated with me.

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The set up and reveal of Hela was well-crafted and intriguingly done. She, like Loki, comes from Norse mythology, and (like Loki) she is a different kind of villain. I enjoyed the scenes in which she was depicted, and Cate Blanchett did a wonderful job portraying her.

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Up to this point, I was satisfied with the development of the mythological elements in the plot. Then came the middle. I’ve always liked how Marvel uses humor to diffuse the tension, but I felt that this time it almost smothered it.

The introduction of the deranged Grandmaster as played by Jeff Goldblum managed to add a humorous sense of dread before the jokes threatened to take over.

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There were good scenes and ideas throughout the rest of the movie, but I felt they were overly subordinated to the jokes. The contrast of dread followed by an instant of comic relief didn’t feel as if it had been given sufficient time to build. Also, I wonder if there was too much reliance on phrases and slapstick sequences from past movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The almost Shakespearian nobility of Thor is a great straight line for the punch lines which involve him. I was sorry to see that sense of nobility lessened as much as it was, partly because I thought it lessened the impact of the humor, which much of the time was genuinely funny. I’m all for evolving a character, but I’m also all for maintaining sufficient continuity to make that evolution more plausible.

Well, this is taking longer than I had anticipated, so I’d better continue this thread next week.

Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (4)


In Norse mythology, Loki is a shape-shifter (hence, a trickster) who is ascribed various powers in different versions or accounts. He is sometimes described as helping the other members of the Norse Pantheon and sometimes as working against them. This diversity makes him nuanced and interesting. In the original myths, he is completely unrelated to Odin, Freya, and Thor.

Loki shown in an 18th Century Icelandic manuscript.
Loki shown in an 18th Century Icelandic manuscript.
The punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (1813-1874).
The punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (1813-1874).
Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Marten Eskil Winge.
Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Marten Eskil Winge.

This Norse god has been skillfully re-written in Marvel Comics. In their version, he is the adopted son of Odin and Frigga (Freya) and the envious stepbrother of Thor.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

This unavoidably sets him at odds with the Avengers (get a load of the old Iron Man).

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

The imagery for this character has been  effectively re-invented in the comics. Below is a later version.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Disney Marvel also got Loki’s imagery right, and Tom Hiddleston excellently portrays him in the movies. In my opinion, he has become one of the best villains in cinematic history.

From The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon.
From The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon.
From Thor: The Dark World (
“Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World” (2013, directed by Alan Taylor)
Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
Ph: Film Frame
© 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

We’ll look at one more Norse god next week and then move back to the Greek pantheon.


Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (1)

Characters from Thor, directed by Kenneth Branaugh (left to right: Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins)
Characters from Thor, directed by Kenneth Branaugh (left to right: Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins)
Disney Marvel's Thor: The Dark World Heimdall (Idris Elba) Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.
Disney Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World
Heimdall (Idris Elba)
Ph: Film Frame
© 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.
Freya (Renee Russo) from Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branaugh
Freya (Renee Russo) from Thor (2011), directed by Kenneth Branaugh

Odin, Freya, Thor, Loki, and Heimdall were borrowed from the Norse pantheon and re-imagined by Marvel Comics. These characters were also used effectively in a number of movies by the Disney Marvel franchise. Keeping in mind that this series is all about eye candy through various media, let us begin with…


He was highly regarded as the god of royalty, death, healing, poetry, and battle, etc. He is the husband of the goddess Freya and the father of Thor. He has many representations in art, both ancient and modern.

A medieval depiction of Odin (Late Middle Ages), Royal Library, Copenhagen
A medieval depiction of Odin (Late Middle Ages), Royal Library, Copenhagen
Godan (Odin) and Frea as illustrated by Emile Doepler (1905)
Godan (Odin) and Frea as illustrated by Emile Doepler (1905)


Relief of Odin on a modern coin.
Relief of Odin on a modern coin.

As I have already mentioned, he has been re-imagined as a character by Marvel Comics.

Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

And, of course, there are his appearances (played by the formidable Sir Anthony Hopkins)  in the Thor series of movies by the Disney Marvel franchise.

Image credit: Disney Marvel (actor: Anthony Hopkins)
Image credit: Disney Marvel (actor: Anthony Hopkins)

(to be continued)

The Modern Pantheon: Loki

From Thor: The Dark World (
“Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World” (2013, directed by Alan Taylor)
Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
Ph: Film Frame
© 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Loki (played magnificently by Tom Hiddleston) is a god. Just ask him:

The above scene from The Avengers (2012, directed by Joss Whedon), in which Loki’s argument is rendered moot by the Hulk, reminds me of a passage from the second chapter of Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton (perhaps my favorite author).

“So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvellous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”

This kind of ambition – to dominate, to subjugate, to exalt oneself above others – is madness. By human standards, it may even be seen as an entirely reasonable madness. Chesterton again:

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything but his reason.

And the cure?

I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that is growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument.

In various ways, I suppose we are all mad, that we all consider ourselves gods. Time to breathe, Loki. Otherwise, yourself is all you get.

Liebster Award Nomination

I need to insert this between posts for my Modern Pantheon series so that I may thank Kgothatjo Magolego (KG’s MOVIE RANTS) for nominating me for a Liebster Award. I understand that this is an honor, and I am happy to play along. Here is the information he sent me:


Liebster Award Nomination


I’d like to thank Hammy Reviews for nominating me for this award, please do check out his blog by clicking here. I’d see blogs I was following, writing about receiving these awards and wondering if I’d ever get one. So this is really a honour. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my blog and chimes in with a comment or a like. I might forget to reply to a comment once and a while but I appreciate your presence.

The Rules:

  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers (decided to keep it strictly WordPress blogs cause I can’t tell how many followers bloggers on other servers have).
  5. Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer

*See above for my acknowledgement of KG’s Movie Rants.

Here are my answers to Kgothatjo’s questions:

Your most embarrassing moment?

I think that would have to be high school basketball practice when I guarded a teammate. Everyone in the gym was laughing, and there was no way to hide or get out of it.

Favourite movie and why?

This is impossible for me to answer. I’m suffering from choice anxiety here, so I’ll narrow it down to my favorite monster movie: The Water Horse. It’s a charming location and period piece, and I thought the child characters were adorable. Plus, the special effects were convincingly good.

Marry, kill, sleep with: Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Tom Hiddleston?

I’ll have to be a bit of a buzz kill. I wouldn’t marry any of them because I am already married to my wife of 36 years, and she is the love of my life. I would not kill any of them, either, since I’m a Christian, and – well – that’s just plain bad. I’m also afraid sleeping with any of them is out of the question since I’m a dedicated heterosexual and have promised my wife that I will never sleep with anyone but her. I would like to have a conversation with Tom Hiddleston. My son-in-law, Michael Greenholt, helped animate Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy, for which Tom provided some vocal work. Mike said that this excellent actor is an interesting, gracious, and pleasantly mannered gentleman, so even Loki can’t be all bad.

Last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably?

This happens fairly often, so I can’t pin down a specific memory. I’m sure, however, that it would have been at an extended family gathering. My brothers are hilarious, and this generally happens late at night when things seem funnier.

Favourite childhood memory?

There have been so many, that it’s difficult to pick just one. One that just came to mind is when my grandfather took one of my brothers and I fishing on a permanent pier in Lake Michigan. He fell asleep on the pier, and my father took a picture of us with our unconscious Doccie. I still have that photograph framed and hanging on the wall, and it is a treasured possession.

Favourite song at the moment?

This is another hard one. It depends on the mood, so right now I’ll say Dock of the Bay as sung by Otis Redding. I play the electric bass for a hobby, and Duck Dunn’s elegant countermelody on that song might be one of the best ever recorded in popular music.

If you could be any fictional character who would it be and why?

I’m more comfortable inventing characters than pretending to be one, but I’ll pick Innocent Smith from Man Alive by G. K. Chesterton.  He reminds me of another one of my brothers, and I responded to his off-the-wall spontaneity. He enlivened the other characters around him and improved their lives. I’d like to do that, too. Favorite quote by this character: “The puppy struggles.” Read this odd story for yourselves to get the context.

Do you have any unusual talents?

I’m not completely sure. I have a very active imagination, and I have been fairly good (but not great) at a number of things throughout my life. I’ve had my athletic phase, my musical phase, and my scientific phase. I am currently in my teaching phase, and I hope to enter more fully into my writing phase when I retire.

What’s your blogging process?

Creativity is a deep well that nobody truly understands. Things in which I am interested reach critical mass until I feel compelled to write about them. That’s all I can think of to say. My mind abhors a vacuum.

Do you put your ketchup over your fries or on the side?

I used to put it on the side and dip my fries. I am now much too health-conscious to eat that kind of food. My father died prematurely of a heart attack, and it is my sincere desire not to follow in his steps.

What’s your vision for your blog?

  1. I snore, but that’s okay because so does my wife. She’s awesome.
  2. My favorite color as a child was forest green.
  3. I always had German chocolate cake for my birthday when I was growing up. My mother baked it for me.
  4. I love well-made monster movies, and I own several. It has to be realistic, doggone it.
  5. I am a fanciful personality who had to learn to be disciplined, thorough, and logical.
  6. If my teachers hadn’t forced me to read, I would have missed out on a lifetime pleasure, and I wouldn’t have developed a passion for writing. My days of skimming and faking the book report are over.
  7. I was an excellent crammer in college. This, of course, is not the same thing as learning.
  8. My favorite authors are G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, and Thorton Wilder.
  9. My favorite book by Wilder is Theophilus North, which was written very near to the end of his life. The main character is a good smart aleck.
  10. I am drawn to a good smart aleck.
  11. I speak fluent jackass. My wife will attest to this.

I would like to nominate these bloggers for a Liebster Award:

  1. The Animated Life
  2. Gabbing Geek
  3. Enette’s World
  4. Kinnerstern
  5. Wyrmflight

*Please see the rules of acceptance near the top of this post.

Here are my 11 questions for you to answer:

  1. What do you find yourself thinking about when you don’t have to?
  2. What do you love even when you fail at it?
  3. What do you hate even when you succeed at it?
  4. In your perfect universe, who are you, and what are you doing?
  5. What do you prefer to write about and why?
  6. Invent a motto for living. You needn’t be serious.
  7. You have to spend three months vacationing by yourself. How would you best use that time?
  8. The world would be a better place if everyone would just…
  9. What is a creative project for which you wish you had enough time?
  10. If you had an income of a million dollars a year, how much would you need to live on, and what would you do with the rest?
  11. Of all the announced releases for future movies, which one do you look forward to seeing the most?