Thor: Love and Thunder has finally hit theaters and continues the summer with an entertaining and electrifying story. Not only does the film see the return of Chris Hemsworthis the god of thunder, but he also marks Natalie Portmanis back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thor’s ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster, who becomes the Mighty Thor when she retrieves Thor’s reforged hammer, Mjlonir. Taika Waititi also returns to directing and co-writing love and thunder after the critical and commercial success of Thor: Ragnarokwhile playing the gladiator Kronan Korg.
Both love and thunder and Ragnarok have similar elements. They give deeply alien worlds a vivid color palette, along with plenty of irreverent Waititi humor. But above all, all the flashes and laughs hide major themes, including the horror of colonialism and the struggles with faith. In that vein, here are eight movies that feature one or more of those elements — and even an actor or two from love and thunder.
Although Marvel and DC often dominate the conversation when it comes to comic book-based movies, there have been plenty of cinematic attempts focusing on lesser-known characters. And the biggest of them is Flash Gordonbased on the legendary space adventurer created by Alexander Raymond. The film finds Gordon (Sam J. Jones) traveling in space with scientist Hans Zarkov (Topol) and travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson). They soon encounter intergalactic conqueror Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) and Flash eventually leads a revolution to overthrow Ming’s empire before it destroys Earth.
Flash Gordon has many elements that are part of Waititi Thor films, including an extensive collection of alien worlds that include the winged Hawkmen and Ming’s right-hand man, the metal-masked general Klytus (Pierre Wyngard). And it features a star-studded cast for a fantasy/sci-fi adventure, including Blessed Brian as Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen and former James Bond Timothy Dalton as The Flash’s rival-turned-ally, Prince Barin. And while love and thunder consists of several Guns’n’Roses songs, Flash Gordon had Queen delivering a spectacular theme song that hails the main character as the “Savior of the Universe”. Waititi even joined Joe and Anthony Russoit is pizza film school series on YouTube discussing the film, so it’s clear he had a major impact on how he approaches the God of Thunder.
The 1980s were full of swashbuckling fantasy movies, including Krull. Krull begins when the titular planet is invaded by a reptilian tyrant known as the Beast (voiced by Trevor Martin) and his armies. The Beast interrupts a wedding between Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and Princess Lyssa (Anthony Lysette), injuring Colwyn and kidnapping Lyssa – and preventing them from forming an alliance that could overthrow her reign. Colwyn sets out to defeat the Beast once he learns of an ancient weapon known as the Glaive, and is joined by a group of companions such as Elder Ynyr (Freddie Jones), the little magician Ergo the Magnificent (David Batley) and the huge Cyclops Rell (Bernard Breslaw). Krull is less famous for its history and more for the production issues that plagued it every step of the way. There were several rewrites, Anthony had his voice dubbed by Lindsay Crouseand director Peter Yates had to take a vacation while filming. Despite these troubles, Krull is now considered a cult classic due to its allusions to Arthurian lore – the Glaive is essentially a replacement for King Arthur’s Excalibur sword – and its soaring score, courtesy of James Horner.
Krull is available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max.
The Last Starfighter
Films based on video games generally have two receptions: either they are very popular (see sonic the hedgehog movies) or they are outright rejected (see all movies that attempt to tackle resident Evil). The Last Starfighter falls into the first category, and it’s not even based on a pre-existing video game! Video game expert Alex Rogan (Throws Guest) learns that the “Starfighter” game he is mastering is secretly a test to find pilots to defend the Rylan Star League against the Ko-Dan Empire. With the original star wars trilogy that concluded and War games its debut a year before the critical and commercial success, The Last Starfighter followed in their footsteps and delivered a rousing sci-fi adventure. It is also a major pioneer in the world of computer-generated effects, as many of the film’s space battles feature CG effects. This has the effect of lending a certain charm and real-life video game visuals to the story. And The Last Starfighter can live again, like A thug scriptwriter Gary Whitta develops a reboot.
love and thunder Brands Christian Baleis back in a comic book franchise after playing Bruce Wayne in Christopher NolanThe Batman Trilogy. But before putting on the Dark Knight cape, Bale starred in Kurt Wimmerdystopian action thriller Balance. After a third world war, the new ruling state known as Liberia bans anything that would trigger human emotions and develops a drug to suppress those emotions. John Preston (Bale) is a Grammaton cleric dedicated to eradicating “sense offenders”, but ends up feeling human emotion himself and leads a revolution destined to overthrow Libria. Today, 20 years after its debut, Balance has become a cult classic – mainly due to the ridiculously awesome fighting style known as “Gun Kata”, which involves using firearms and geometry to kill with insane precision. But the film also deserves credit for Bale’s layered performance as Preston. He starts off cold and emotionless, but as his walls slowly crumble, he bursts into tears upon seeing the sunrise or listening to Beethoven. Bale brought the same level of intensity to each of his performances, including Gorr the God Butcher in love and thunder.
Balance is available to stream on HBO Max.
masters of the universe
masters of the universe will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, and during that time it has spawned a veritable franchise that includes TV shows such as the sequel series Masters of the Universe: Revelation. In 1987, director Gary Godard would bring Masters of the Universe to the big screen with a live-action film adaptation. But fans got a shock: rather than exploring the battle between He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) and his nemesis Skeletor (Frank Langelle), the film chooses to send Musclor and his allies to Earth where they meet the teenager Julie Winston (Courtney Cox). Whereas masters of the universe was critically and commercially panned, it’s become a cult classic over the years, and a lot of that is down to Langella’s performance. Langella chose to portray Skeletor because her son was a huge fan of the mastery franchise, and treats the villain like a Shakespearean character rather than the cackling madman he is in the original animated series. It lends the film an unexpected gravitas, not to mention the sheer nightmare fuel of the heavy makeup Langella wears to make him look like an actual human skeleton.
masters of the universe is available to stream on HBO Max.
The child who wanted to be king
In the pantheon of myth, King Arthur remains one of the most influential figures – and for good reason. The story of a boy who learns he is destined to be a great leader and possesses a magical weapon has permeated many fictional characters, from Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter. And Joe Cornish chose to examine the power of this myth with his second film The child who wanted to be king. Alex Elliot (Louis Ashborn Serkis) discovers King Arthur’s sword Excalibur in a parking lot and is approached by the wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie), who tells him that Arthur’s sister, Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) has awakened and seeks to dominate all of humanity. The same way as Attack the block put a new spin on the alien invasion genre, The child who wanted to be king chooses to explore and even deconstruct the Arthurian myth. And once again, Cornish brings together an incredible cast: Serkis is a wonderful lead role and Excalibur the older Patrick Stewart makes frequent appearances as the older version of Merlin.
The child who wanted to be king is available to stream on Disney+.
What we do in the shadows
Outside of the Thor movies, Taika Waititi has a pretty unorthodox filmography. He has added his unique blend of humor and emotion to films and television projects such as Reservation dogs and JoJo Rabbitbut the movie that put it on the map is What we do in the shadows. Shadows focuses on a group of vampires including Viago (Waititi) and Vladislav (Jermaine Clement, who also co-wrote and co-directed the film with Waititi). The film’s mockumentary approach offers a humorous approach to the supernatural, especially with Viago’s strict rules and Vladislav’s problem with his ex-girlfriend Pauline (Elena Stjeko) as well as the pack of “werewolves not swearing” led by Anton (Rhys Darby). Shadows even led to a TV adaptation on FX, which features many of the elements that made the movie a major hit.
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
Netflix is slowly carving out a niche in the world of genre fare, and one of its most underrated efforts is the troll hunters franchise led by Guillermo del Toro. troll hunters had its big conclusion last year with the Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans feature film. Jim Lake Jr.Anton Yelchin/Emile Hirsch), the titular Trollhunter, races against time to stop the wizards known as the Arcane Order from unleashing the mythical Titans and devastating the world. He is helped by his friend Toby (Charlie Saxton), girlfriend Claire (Lexi Medrano) and other heroes of the troll hunters spinoffs including Princess Akridon Aja (Tatiana Maslany) and the wizard Hisirdoux “Douxie” Casperan (Colin O’Donoghue). Not only The Rise of the Titans features sleeker animation than the series it preceded, but it also manages to juggle a massive cast of characters in a way that will appeal to longtime fans of troll hunters as well as newcomers. And there is even a tribute to Pacific Rim!
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans is currently available to stream on Netflix.
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