Tag Archives: Coyote Drive-In

Thor: Love and Thunder

The fourth Thor movie came out in, what, July? We went to see it at the drive-in, and it was good enough in an actiony explosions and rainbosenberg bridges kind of way. Also, like always, I was tired and it was a summer movie, which means starting near sunset for two (and a half, counting previews, etc) hours is a lot later than if we were watching it in, say, February. So I lightly dozed through a lot of it, which caused me to judge what I did see perhaps more harshly than I would have otherwise. This doesn’t matter to you, because I was always going to watch it again for real before writing a review, which not incidentally is why this one is six months late. But it did mean I kept putting it off even though it’s been available to me for multiple months via certain online sources run by mice.

Thor: Love and Thunder has two glaring flaws, the first of which is sort of a spoiler but not especially. So, one of all, he went off with the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of Endgame. But now he has his own movie. and also, they have their own movie soon. So the possibilities are that these movies a) tie into each other in some way, b) are lopsided because Thor is sharing screen time with a whole team but then isn’t in their movie at all when it comes out later, or c) are wholly unrelated, and the team and thunder god have to be uncoupled. C is bad because it means them going off together in the first place was pointless and poorly thought out, with no planning. You can guess which one happened, I trust.

Two of all, the movie itself is… I am about to say it’s pointless, which is only true insofar as the context of the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has previously worked makes it true. It adds nothing to an overarching storyline being told in its Phase or in its collection of phases. Or if it does, what it is adding is entirely opaque. And what occurs to me is that neither of these is a flaw of the movie itself. It is a flaw in how Marvel and apparently Kevin Feige are meandering aimlessly from one plot to the next, with practically no connective tissue. This doesn’t bother me in the comics because the comics started out that way and, despite crossing over with each other frequently, rarely have giant events. Whereas the MCU was one enormous event from start to end[game]. But they can’t come out and say, hey, we’re going full comics, just making these for funsies with occasional big events (but of course regular crossovers), as it would piss the public off, after what they got out of the first ten years. But they also can’t not say it, because then it looks like this, with people hating on most of your movies because they don’t make overall sense. Which, of course they don’t, if you didn’t write in any overall sense to be made!

Either that, or Feige got infected by whatever happened when Disney contracted the third Star Wars trilogy without a plan.

Anyway, all of that to say: this was a good movie, as long as you did not have grand scheme expectations. Waititi has the same sense of whimsical fun that made Ragnarok work so well, and if it was maybe amped up a little higher, that worked for me. (I understand why it wouldn’t have worked for everyone.) Hemsworth is having the time of his life, clearly. Various callsback in miniature scattered throughout gave me exactly what I’m also getting from reading all of the comics, and in summation, I’m not tired of what they’re doing yet.

But I do wish they were more certain of what that is, or else that they’d communicate it clearly if they are. The movies are good on a case by case basis, but the overall look is just not very good, you know?

Oh, plot thing, if you need it: a bro with a religious axe to grind gets a magic god-killing sword and starts, er, killing gods. Later, he kidnaps a bunch of Asgardian children, which sends Thor and also Thor (you had to be there) on a quest to stop him from killing those children maybe and still more gods definitely. Also, there are some pretty sweet goats and really a lot of Guns ‘n Roses. And, as you can perhaps envision from the title, a love story.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a completely full drive-in parking lot. Whether this is a factor of Covid, or the new Doctor Strange movie only having been out for a week, or both, or some other X-factor… Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of movies at drive-ins relative to my age[1], and some have been crowded, but never packed like this. Man that is a lot of people flashing a lot of headlights, individually, at various moments. But I guess not much more distracting that people getting up to pee or food deliveries or whatever.

I have no segue here, I just like to talk about the drive-in.

See, there’s this teen in need of help, and she occasionally runs into Doctor Strange, who while not the Sorcerer Supreme these days is nonetheless still in charge of the New York chapter house or whatever wizards call their sanctums, and he decides to help her, since that’s what you do in these movies. Then he finds himself traveling the multiverse and fighting demons and the Illuminati and a big bad and pretty much, well, everyone. Turns out the multiverse just isn’t a fan of this guy.

Was it good? It took until the final act for me to say to myself, my, this certainly is a Sam Raimi movie, isn’t it? Unlike I’m sure a lot of people, I did not say this with a heavy heart. Basically, this is a family drama and a second family drama mashed up together, and then turned into a fantasy horror movie, and I completely understand why that is not for everyone, but I kind of dig it, you know?

In retrospect, this may have been the most drive-in friendly movie Kevin Feige has ever signed off on.

What I did not like is how heavily dependent the movie is on watching all of the TV shows Marvel has been pushing out lately. Like, I’ve seen and remember Wandavision, but I feel like you shouldn’t have to? Which is a weird take for a guy reading 100% of Marvel[2], I know, but… you shouldn’t. Needing to watch dozens of movies to keep up is enough to ask. Wanda’s character arc barely makes sense with the TV show for backstory, though, so I’mma call foul there.

[1] Or at least I think I have? Maybe I’m fooling myself.
[2] Close enough, anyway

Scream (2022)

Once upon a time, the horror movie flourished across the land. It was a magical decade called the 1970s. Chainsaws, flamethrowers, butcher knives, axes, gas masks… anything you wanted, as long as it resulted in dead teenagers, it was fair game. But then: disaster! The drive-ins closed, for some reason, and there was no longer a place for the horror movie to exist. Or was there?!

And then, in one of nature’s cruelest ironies, the horror movie discovered the VCR. Because, what you’d think is: hey, a way to survive! But what actually happened was, there were millions of VCRs, instead of thousands of drive-ins, and everyone knows that capitalists abhor a vacuum. Which meant, so many horror movies got made. And they were…. not good. I mean, of course some of them were, but by and large, they weren’t.

By the mid ’90s, the horror movie tottered on the edge of extinction. But then, something incredible happened. Scream was a post-modern, snarky, thoroughly Gen-X deconstruction of the past two decades of horror movies. But not only did it make fun of everything around, including itself, it simultaneously brought back the mystery part, and it did it extremely well. Who was the killer? Was it even possible to figure it out? It wasn’t, but best of all, not because the movie cheated. It was impossible because it was playing by a new set of rules that nobody had ever heard of. And suddenly, it was okay to like horror again. Which meant it was okay to make horror again. Mostly not big budget multiplex horror, as the studios were still feeling burned by the crash, but small screen, curated, indie horror? Easy to find, and even better, easy to find stuff that was well made[1] and that was penned by people who understood the way the genre was supposed to work.

None of this is a review of Scream, which somehow managed to have the same title as its 25 years earlier predecessor (and, in true Scream fashion, made fun of itself for doing so). But it also put a name to something I was just discussing here, about the trend of bringing horror movies back to their original roots, even after multiple sequels or remakes have been made: this was a requel, which is to say, a reboot that is also a sequel. You have the original characters, but you also have a bunch of new characters, and you have the same title, and you’re basically making the same movie you made 25, or 40, or 45 years ago.

And that’s the deal. As Koz put it: if you liked the original movie for its metacommentary on the horror movie, and if you are okay with requels, this thing is pretty much A+ primo. Even though Wes Craven has shuffled off, and was well memorialized here, the people who are still around still know what a Scream movie is and what it should be doing.

Also: this is the first and probably only movie I’ve seen that went out of its way to make fun of the people who hated Star Wars Episode 8. (I don’t mean the people who quibbled with its runaway sharp divergences from the previous movie even though it was nominally part of a trilogy, I mean the people who hated it. You know, because all their heroes were no longer perfect and they maybe should have been listening to the ladies instead of being dumb luck Star Wars heroes. Those people.) The fun-making was well-deserved, and will probably not be noticed by anyone who should, and would not be listened to if they did. But I quietly snickered to myself.

[1] I’m being unfair to the ’70s, here. Because plenty of horror in the ’70s was shoddily made at best. But it always had heart, it was made by people who were living out their dreams. What came later was a nonstop cash-in, and it showed.