DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber: Everything You Need to Know

When shopping for high-speed internet, you may feel overwhelmed by the different options. You may not know what to think about upload speeds, download speeds, DSL, cable, fiber, and more. What does it all mean? What is best for you? This complete guide will help you understand the key differences between broadband services, internet plans, and more.

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber: The Basics

Most high-speed internet connections still go through some kind of cable. Wires are a sensible medium since they are very efficient and widely available. The most common high-speed internet connections are DSL, cable, and fiber.

  • DSL Internet CableDSL (Digital Subscriber Line): DSL uses telephone landlines to deliver internet connection. Unlike dial-up service, it does not interfere with phone service. Speeds are better than the old dial-up system, but DSL is the slowest of the modern options.
  • Cable: Instead of a telephone landline, cable Internet uses your home’s coaxial cable, which likely connects you to your TV service as well. Cable internet is widely available, and the connection speed is fast enough to satisfy most customers.
  • Fiber (Fiber-optic Line): Fiber-optic is the fastest option on the market since it transmits data using light, not electricity. That means data is literally sent at the speed of light. Fiber speeds are very attractive, but fiber internet service is not widely available.

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber: Speeds Overview

The fastest option is not necessarily the best option for you. Instead, you should consider how much Internet speed you need. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends internet speeds of 12-25 Mbps for households with multiple Internet users or for frequent online streaming. Even gamers can enjoy a consistently good gaming experience at those speeds. If you work from home and frequently run large file transfers, it’s recommended you jump to 40+ Mbps.

Frankly, the FFC’s recommended speeds are a little low. The FCC bases its recommendation on the speeds that various popular companies like Netflix and Skype recommend to use for their services. It’s a good idea to go a little above and beyond these recommendations since internet speeds may perform slower at home than advertised. Plus, using multiple devices at the same time and other technical factors, like “peak use” times, can also slow down your connection.

What is the difference between download vs. upload speeds?

Think of download as data coming in and upload as data going out. The download speed is how fast data is transferred from your server to you; whereas, upload speed is how fast you can transfer data to your server. Download speed is most important for Internet users who mainly surf the Internet, download files, and stream videos or music. Upload speed is particularly important for people who frequently send emails and files to other people, have live video chats, or are into online gaming.

Typical Download and Upload Speeds for DSL, Cable, and Fiber

Internet Connection Download Speeds Upload Speeds
DSL 5-35 Mbps 1-10 Mbps
Cable 10-500 Mbps 5-50 Mbps
Fiber 250-1,000 Mbps 250-1,000 Mbps


As you can see, according to the FCC’s recommendations, most households should be able to get by on DSL internet service. But, in reality, most households would experience Internet lag, buffering, and even interrupted service with DSL. DSL is also not a good option for gamers or people who work from a home office since the upload speeds are lacking.

Cable internet is a safe choice for most households. Both download and upload speeds can easily accommodate the majority of households, even if multiple devices are being used at the same time. Cable can also comfortably support gaming and home offices.

Seeing the fiber speeds probably made your eyes bulge. At 250-1,000 Mbps, fiber offers speeds that are 10-40x faster than the recommended rate. You will never see a spinning loading circle or buffering bar again. Fiber is overkill for most internet users, but that doesn’t mean consumers don’t want it anyway.

Internet Connection 101: How Does Internet Service Connection Work?

High Speed InternetBefore going into more detail about the pros and cons of DSL vs. cable vs. Internet service, let’s run through a quick Internet 101 lesson. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t understand how the internet works or how it connects to our homes. There’s no need to understand than gritty details, but hopefully, this helps convey the basic idea.

Some try to compare the internet to a tree, but that’s too simplistic. Instead, visualize the human body. Picture the central nervous system, like the brain and the spinal cord, as the internet servers and main network. The brain is the Internet server, and the spine is the main fiber optic cables that transmit data between cities, countries, and continents.

Then, you have the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is the nerves that branch out and send signals to the arms, legs, fingers, and toes. In our metaphor, the internet service providers we choose are the nerves that send signals from the backbone to our neighborhoods, houses, and rooms. DSL “nerve signals” are a bit sluggish, cable “nerve signals” are healthy, and fiber-optic “nerve signals” are in their prime.

The backbone of the internet is carried almost exclusively over fiber networks. Once it reaches your city or your neighborhood, or what’s known as the “Last Mile,” the types of connections vary. The consumer Internet companies that provide DSL, cable, fiber, etc. are thus known as “Last Mile Providers.” These last couple miles between your house and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) can slow internet connection considerably depending on the type of connection.

DSL Internet Summary

DSL is typically the slowest of the three main broadband options. DSL uses your telephone landline but uses a separate frequency than your phone as to not interrupt phone service. DSL download speeds usually range from 5-35 Mbps. Some DSL providers offer DSL speed tiers as fast as 12 Mbps, 20 Mbps, and even 45 Mbps. However, the slowest, cheapest cable or fiber option usually outperforms the fastest, most expensive DSL service.

DSL Pros

  • Widely available, including rural areas
  • Affordable compared with fiber optic or satellite service

DSL Cons

  • Only one step above dial-up internet
  • Slower than cable or fiber
  • DSL Providers typically over-advertise their download speeds

Cable Internet Summary

As the name suggests, cable Internet service uses cable wire to deliver your high-speed internet. Typically, cable Internet connects through the same coaxial cable your TV provider uses. Cable services are usually offered in speed tiers, with an overall range of 10-500 Mbps. Some providers, start their plans at 100 Mbps, which exceeds most household needs. Lower speed tiers are available elsewhere, but sometimes there is more value in the basic higher-speed plans.

Cable Internet Pros

  • Faster than DSL
  • Possibly faster than fiber-optic, depending on your plan
  • Speeds are usually close to as advertised
  • Widely available

DSL Cons

  • More expensive than DSL
  • May only have one service provider in your area

Fiber-optic Internet Summary

Fiber Optic InternetFiber internet technology uses light to deliver data instead of electricity. As a result, it can provide the fastest download and upload speeds. Though currently the fastest internet option, cable technology is quickly advancing and closing the gap.

Fiber has a huge range when it comes to speed and is mostly dependent on your geographic location. Download speeds range from 250-1,000 Mbps, which overlaps with cable speeds. Upload speeds are typically faster than cable, and some companies can match upload speeds to download speeds.

Fiber Pros

  • Faster download speeds than DSL, and possibly cable
  • Fastest upload speeds
  • Speeds are usually close to as advertised

Fiber Cons

  • Not widely available
  • More expensive than DSL, and possibly cable

Other Internet Options

DSL, cable, and fiber are the three main broadband options for the internet. There are a few other viable options, though they are not as popular. These options include satellite, dial-up, tethering and hot spots, and mobile broadband.

Satellite Internet

Households with multiple internet users can stream, game, and run home offices using satellite internet. However, satellite internet service is generally slower and more expensive than cable and fiber. But sometimes satellite internet is the only option aside from dial-up that is available, especially in rural areas.

Dial-up Internet

Believe it or not, dial-up Internet is not a thing of the past. Verizon, which now owns AOL, reported in 2015 that more than 2.1 million people still subscribe to dial-up. Dial-up may be ridiculously slow, but it could suffice for people who hardly use the Internet and don’t stream entertainment. Dial-up comes with a tiny price tag that could be as low as $7 per month.

Tethering and Hot Spots

Tethering and hot spots piggyback on your mobile phone service to connect to the internet. With tethering, you connect a USB cable from your phone to your computer. With a mobile hotspot, you can connect via a USB cable, Bluetooth, or WiFi. Using your cellular data connection is a viable option if you hardly use the internet. If you do more than send an occasional email or basic web browsing, you run the risk of exceeding your cell phone’s data plan.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband also connects to cellular networks, but not through your phone. Instead, it uses a separate mobile hot spot or wireless modem to connect your device to the internet. Mobile broadband packages are designed a lot like cell phone plans where you pay for a set number of gigabytes each month. Mobile broadband limits the amount of data you can use and can be quite pricey. But it can be nifty if you are traveling or if you want to take your internet wherever you go.

High Speed Internet OptionsDSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber: Which Should I Get?

Once you figure out what internet providers (or provider) serve your area, you can then figure out what internet speed you need. Since you will likely only have one or two options, compare the different plans they offer. Remember, download speeds of 25-50 Mbps are sufficient for most households, including those with multiple users. If your area has cable or fiber-optic internet providers, their lowest-tier plan most likely exceeds this recommendation.

Another way to determine what speed you need is to test your current Internet speed or that of a friend’s. You can do this simply by doing an online search for “test my internet speed”. If you are unhappy with your internet, then you will know to bump up to the next tier than what you’re currently getting. If your friend’s internet use is similar to yours and they’re happy with their speed, then go with a comparable speed tier.

Conclusion

In summary, fiber and cable are the king and queen of the Internet and can serve you well. DSL connections are not the best, but they will get the job done better than the remaining options, such as dial-up. Unfortunately, a lot of the decisions will be made for you depending on what is available in your area. But at least you are now well informed of the choices that remain.

 

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Cut the Cord on Cable TV

People consider cutting the cord to cable television for two main reasons. The first is because they had a bad experience with a cable provider. The second is because they are trying to cut down on monthly expenses. Both are valid reasons, but there are several things you should consider before you decide to cut the cord for good.

Best Collection of TV Channels

Cable TV HD Channels There’s no denying that Spectrum TV Packages have the best collection of TV channels, like HGTV, History, Bravo, AMC, and more. If you cut the cord, you may have to give up some of your favorite shows. Not to mention, you’ll have to give up those late nights channel surfing. You know, those nights where you just want to shut off your brain and flip back and forth between Pawn Stars and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns?

Bundled Pricing

Cable providers shine when it comes to bundling. You might be considering cutting the cord to cable because you find yourself streaming Netflix or Prime a lot of the time. But you’re probably streaming those platforms using the high-speed internet that is bundled with your cable. If you cancel your cable, you will lose the big monthly savings you are receiving through bundling.

If you aren’t bundling your Internet with your cable, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for cost-savings every month, you should start there. Cable providers have really upped their game when it comes to Internet speeds. Spectrum Internet Plans start at a very impressive 100 Mbps and offers download speeds of up to 940 Mbps!  You never have to worry about buffering with even the most basic plan. But you’ll see the most value when you bundle with cable.

In-Home Entertainment

Cable TV PPV EventsIn addition to bundled pricing, you should consider the value of in-home entertainment. A family trip to the movies easily costs close to $100 these days. Going out to eat can be even more expensive. If a movie On-Demand or pizza in front of your favorite show keeps you home one extra day a month, you’ve made your money back.

Custom Packages 

Many cable providers give customers control over the channels they are paying for. Customers can customize different cable plans to get all their favorite channels without having to buy the biggest plan. Oftentimes, just adding a couple of channels to the most basic plan can meet all of your entertainment needs. You can even add premium movie packages or specialty sports packs to the most affordable plans.

Negotiable Pricing

Cable TV DealsA lot of people reach to cut the cord as soon as their promotional period is over. After the standard 12-month period, your cable costs can increase substantially. But cable providers leave wiggle room in their pricing. They don’t want to lose you as a customer and will work with you to give you the most entertainment value for your budget.

The cable industry is also very competitive. While your cable provider will try to negotiate to keep you as a customer, competing cable providers will try to steal you away. So, if you want to save money and you’re unhappy with your cable provider, talk to their competitors. Competitors offer all kinds of incentives to switch to their service.

Sports, Sports, Sports!

You’re not going to find Sunday’s big game on Netflix. Hands down, cable TV still has the stronghold on sports coverage. Sports packs give you access to premium regional and international sports networks. Whether you want to watch college ball, international soccer, or never miss an NFL game, cable TV has you covered. You can customize your cable plan with various sports packages.

 Special Live Events

Cable TV On Demand HDIf you’re a red-carpet junkie or a fan of Holiday specials, you’ll need to think twice before canceling your cable. The Grammys and Oscars are at home on cable tv. A lot of Christmas and New Year’s specials are only found on cable as well. A lot of people forget to consider this seasonal entertainment when deciding to cut off their cable. They don’t realize their mistake until it’s time to watch them again.

Pay-Per-View and New Movies

Let’s be honest, most Netflix movies are pretty terrible. And while Prime Video has better movie options, they charge for all of the best ones. Cable TV offers a wide range of movie channels and packages. Often, the newest box office hits are available on cable first. Pay-per-view options also give you the best movies at a great price.

Speaking of Pay-per-view, don’t forget about boxing matches and MMA events. These special events are also available on cable.  Don’t lose your status as your friends’ hero if you can’t host fight nights at your house anymore.

On-Demand and Streaming

Cable TV BundlesCable providers aren’t stuck in the stone age. They have jumped on the streaming bandwagon and offer great streaming options. You can find hundreds of On Demand movies and tv episodes that you can watch anytime and anywhere. The apps work on virtually any smart device, and you can stream on multiple devices at a time.

Most cable providers also have their very own App, like the DIRECTV App. You can stream On-Demand shows, watch live TV, and even watch your DVR recordings. It gives you all the flexibility of the top streaming apps with the added perk of having full access to your recordings. It’s a win-win.

Should I Cancel Cable TV?

Cutting the cord isn’t going to save you as much as you might think. And there are always other cable providers who would love to bribe you to join their service. Most importantly, there are other cable providers who can provide the customer service you deserve.

Netflix and other streaming options still have big holes in their entertainment platforms. And, of course, you can’t beat the value of bundling high-speed internet with cable. Before you give up your favorite shows and channels, consider the above reasons to stay.

13 Reasons Why: Shedding Light On Bullying And Mental Illness Or Glorifying Suicide?

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is a controversial three season long Netflix original directed in part by “Tom McCarthy” stirred the pot across the nation.  From previews and trailers, what was a seemingly twisted teenage drama at an initial glance panned out to be a much darker and deeper storyline.

13 Reasons Why Justin

The three part series begins succeeding the suicide of key character, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). After experiencing the utter shock from both Hannah’s parents and classmates the story begins to unfold in a rather unexpected manner. Main character Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette) has a connection with Hannah that is somewhat elusive as it slowly builds throughout the season. He receives a shoebox containing audio cassette tapes recorded by Hannah leading up to her death – relaying a promise to explain why she did what she did and the events leading up to the tragedy.

As the story builds and we gain insight to the devastatingly traumatic events that Hannah withstood leading up to her death, we start to form this empathetic love towards her and a desire to know her more. The show has a way of making us feel deeply connected to the characters as if we are experiencing the events alongside them. The series brings up issues that arise in teens and schools such as struggles with sexual orientation, invasion of privacy and corruption among leaders. But more explicitly revealed to us is a world of graphic rape/nudity, severe bullying, brutal murders and tragedy that all took place among a group of teens within a high school.  Aside from the extreme issues portrayed that at times can be hard to view, you still have your standard teenage drama to smooth the surface and allow you to breathe in between scenes.

Now that you have a brief overview of the series “13 Reasons Why” let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the controversial chatter that flooded the internet, news and radio stations – was this series a solid, light-shedding depiction of issues amongst teens or was it an unjust glorification of suicide? If you were like most people you were swamped with a gluttonous amount of bias information before you had the chance to pop some frigg’n popcorn and make your own observations and opinions (yes, I was a victim of this unfortunate overload of opinions if you were wondering).

13 Reasons Why TylerI didn’t hear many opinions favoring the idea of the show being a positive depiction of mental health issues and teen bullying but was indeed overwhelmed by the outpouring of shell -shocked parents and teachers along with local news stations extreme opposition to the racy content. Many were completely turned off to the idea of even viewing the series after the word got out about the plot revolving around teen suicide and the graphic depictions of the act. Understandably so, the somewhat disturbing truth behind the matter can be a tough pill to swallow and even harder to view.

The idea of the show somehow glorifying taking your own life was derived from the ongoing scenes of Hannah Baker living a sort of “afterlife” by watching her friends listen to her pre-recorded tapes and re-living her traumatic memories. The show plays this out in such a way that it takes on the look of an “unconventional murder mystery” which translated to some that once you’re dead you can somehow become vindicated by your acts of self-harm by pushing blame on all who harmed you (which unfortunately is not the case). Contrary to some beliefs, once you decide to take your life, you are gone. Not temporarily, not until you’re ready to resurface, but gone forever.  Hannah Bakers’ presence lingers to those who were prompted to listen to the tapes In order to hear her truth, feel her pain and in ways seek revenge to those who wronged her.  This is where the issues of an unrealistic portrayal of suicide and the afterlife came into play, deifying an act that is permanent and harmful to many more than just the victim.

13 Reasons Why Season 2Now, let’s take a look at the opposition. I’m not sure that there is a positive way to depict the raw truth about mental illness without doing it in such a way to save face”.  Sure, the show could have told the story of a severely traumatized, bullied teen that was struggling with negative feelings of self-worth and depression after being violently raped in a more graceful way… But that would defeat the purpose of what the show embodies. Truth. Whether ugly or pretty, tasteful or raw, truth is truth no matter the form it reveals itself in.  Though, more graphic than some people prefer the direction that the producers chose to take was not intended to tread lightly on people’s feelings or not offend the highly-offended (heaven forbid). The show was created to provoke emotion and to show things that are hidden in a dark corner and not talked about. The stigma attached to mental illness hinders anyone affected. Though “13 reasons why” offers some added shock value the intention is to allow the stigma to be broken.  They decided to show graphic details that are rarely portrayed in order to reveal what these issues truly look like and how they come in all different shapes and forms. Bullying is not just being teased for your weight or your physical appearance – it can be slut-shaming a young girl because she chose not to put out. Depression doesn’t always look “sad or helpless” it can be roaming the halls amongst hundreds of others smiling on the outside but dying on the inside.

This is what the producers of “13 Reasons Why” intended to do. Create thought provoking content that made people see these issues in another light. Recently, the Creator of the show, Brian Yorkey, removed the entire suicide scene from the first season in order to “do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers”.  He continued with stating “No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and it’s message that we must take better care of each other”. That’s a good message to take with you.

Regardless of the backlash the show received for the heavy content, if you can get past some graphic, real-life scenes I would rate this show 100 percent binge worthy approved.

Check Out These Amazing Benefits of Charter Spectrum Internet Plans

Charter Spectrum offers a full suite of Internet, TV and Voice services for both business and residential customers. Charter Spectrum Internet is the fastest, most reliable Internet service you’ll find, and it comes with so many amazing benefits – such as no data caps and plenty of security offerings to keep your family safe – that you’ll simply be blown away.

Moreover, if you bundle Charter Spectrum Internet with other services, you can get access to the Internet for the stunningly low price! Click here to check the current Spectrum Internet Prices.

Charter Spectrum Internet offers faster speeds than anyone else

Want to stream full-length Hollywood movies without interruptions or glitches? Want to download as much music as you can? Or play graphics-intensive multi-player videogames with your friends? Then you better have the fastest Internet possible.

This is where Charter Spectrum Internet really delivers, with speeds starting at 60 Mbps. That speed is so fast it’s twenty times faster than DSL! That’s plenty of speed to support multiple devices in every room of your home. With that kind of speed, you will be able to have the total Internet experience.

No contracts when you order Charter Spectrum Internet

Remember when “signing up for cable” meant signing two-year contracts? Not anymore. Charter Spectrum Internet does not require you to sign a contract of any kind.

And, even better, Charter Spectrum Internet will spend up to $500 to buy out your existing Internet contract. So you never have to feel like you’re locked into an expensive contract over again?

No data caps with Charter Spectrum Internet

Charter Spectrum has your best Internet experience in mind, and that’s why there are no data caps for your Internet use. With other Internet providers, you might have to worry about how many movies you watch, how much music you download, or how long you spend playing your favorite videogame.

But not with Charter Spectrum! Your Internet use is completely uncapped – so feel free to binge on movies and enjoy the Internet the way you’ve always wanted to.

Convenient installation and best-in-class service

Charter Spectrum is changing the standard for Internet service, and one place where it’s starting is with an easy, no-hassle installation experience. It’s easy to install your Internet, and within minutes, you’ll have access to the fastest Internet speeds in your neighborhood!

Choosing a Charter Spectrum Internet plan for your family has never been easier

Charter Spectrum recognizes that families may have multiple devices hooked up to the Internet at one time, and that’s why a centerpiece of any Internet service plan is a fast in-home Wi-Fi network. That means family members can enjoy the Internet from every room of the home.

Experience the Charter Spectrum high-performance router

The key to your fast in-home Wi-Fi network is a high-performance router. And the Charter router gives you the speed and range that you need, in every room of your home. The signal is powerful enough to pass through walls and heavy furniture, so you can literally position it anywhere in your home.

Security and parental controls

Ever worried about what websites your kids might be visiting? Those worries are a thing of the past with the super-strong security and parental controls made possible by Charter Spectrum Internet. In fact, the Charter Security Suite that comes with each and every order of Charter Spectrum Internet is a $60 value.

Once installed, it gives you virus protection, malware protection, email inbox protection and plenty of parental controls so that you can block certain sites for your kids.

24/7 customer support

Have a question about installation or use of your Charter Spectrum Internet? You can get one-on-one advice anytime of the day or night with friendly, knowledgeable customer service agents from Charter Spectrum.

Unlike other Internet service providers, who often try to refer you to online FAQs or limit your calls to certain hours of the business day, Charter Spectrum is open for business every day and hour of the week!

Access to premium entertainment offerings

Charter Spectrum Internet pairs with Charter Spectrum TV, giving you amazing access to premium entertainment offerings on any mobile device. You can watch live TV anywhere in your home with the Spectrum TV app. And you can stream all of your favorite shows on your mobile devices.

That opens up a world of possibilities. You can choose to watch one movie in the main living room, while other people in your family watch movies in their bedrooms!

If you are thinking of getting both TV and Internet, then you have three core options:

  • Triple Play Select – 125+ channels
  • Triple Play Silver – 175+ channels
  • Triple Play Gold – 200+ channels

When combined with the 60 Mbps Internet you are already getting from Charter Spectrum, you can just imagine the possibilities!

Unlock the true value of bundling Charter Spectrum Internet

If you’re looking to save money and get the most affordable version of home Internet, then it’s worth looking into the various bundles that are available from Charter Spectrum. Basic Internet starts at $44.99 per month. But if you bundle with other services, that price falls to a very affordable $29.99 per month.

Final wrap-up of everything Charter Spectrum Internet delivers

The key selling point of Charter Spectrum Internet is the perfect mix of speed and features. Plus, there are no contracts and no need to worry about getting locked into a long-term commitment. If you care about getting the fastest, safest, and most reliable Internet, then Charter Spectrum is the clear choice.

Sign up today!

Now is the time to sign up for Charter Spectrum Internet. If you’ve been putting off this decision, now is the time to give your family the fast, high-quality Internet they deserve. Plus, for a limited time only, Charter Spectrum is offering a 30-day money back guarantee. If, for any reason, you’re not completely satisfied with Charter Spectrum, you can cancel and get your full order amount back.

To get started, call this telephone number to order today: 1-855-345-0208

The Most WTF Moments of Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” That Nobody Saw Coming

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” continues to be one of the most entertaining shows on TV. The show’s creators have not been afraid to kill off some of our favorite characters, and the many plot twists related to the Lannisters, Starks and other family dynasties of Westeros can be head spinning. Alliances keep shifting overnight, and nobody is really safe. With that in mind, here are some of the most WTF moments of Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” that nobody saw coming.

#1: Arya poisons the Freys in an act of coldhearted revenge

Remember back in Season 1 when we thought young Arya was going to be sweet and pure? Well, something clicked on inside her when members of her family – including both Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark – were slaughtered at the infamous Red Wedding. Ever since then, she has vowed to wipe the Frey family off the face of the Westeros map. At the end of Season 6, for example, she cut the throat of Lord Walder Frey and displayed her willingness to exact coldhearted revenge.

And things get nasty real quick in Episode 1 of Season 7, when the entire Frey clan has assembled at the site of the original Red Wedding. “Lord Walder Frey” hands out wine to everyone gathered in the hall to celebrate – and, of course, within minutes, everyone is clutching at their throats, vomiting blood and keeling over. They’ve been poisoned! At this point, “Lord Walder Frey” rips off his mask – and it’s actually Arya! She has just used a death mask to impersonate her most hated rival, using that as a way to get her highly anticipated revenge against the entire Frey clan.

#2: Olenna Tyrell gets her sinister revenge on the Lannisters

We always knew Olenna Tyrell was bitter and scheming. They don’t call her the “Queen of Thorns” for nothing. But we had absolutely no idea of just how cold she was until Episode 3 of Season 7. The Lannisters have just destroyed her home at Highgarden and killed all of her men. She has nothing left, and implores Jaime Lannister to let her die quickly by ingesting poison in a glass of wine.

However, as soon as she drinks the wine, she turns to Jaime with a maniacal glint in her eye and tells him that it was she who had poisoned his son Joffrey. Not only that, she tells Jaime that he should tell Cersei this as well. If you’re going to die, it’s best to take down everyone else around you as well! In Westeros, revenge is a dish best served cold.

#3: The full-on spectacle of fire-breathing dragons attacking

Season 7 was the season that the dragons came fully into their own as stars of “Game of Thrones.” For years, we’ve seen the dragon eggs, and heard all the dragon prophecies. Now, they are coming true! Episode 4 was just epic, with a battle scene unlike any that we have ever seen on “Game of Thrones.” Daenerys swoops down on the back on a dragon, and the mighty Dothraki army marches on the Lannisters. There’s chaos, fire and destruction everywhere. And just when we think that these dragons might make Daenerys invincible, Bronn almost manages to take down one of these fabled beasts with a scorpion bolt crossbow. That’s not a good sign for the dragons – and we quickly find out why in Episodes 5 and 6.

#4: Viserion dies and is resurrected

We’ve already seen the fire and fury of the fire-breathing dragons. We’ve seen all the destruction and chaos they can cause – and then the unthinkable happens – Viserion goes down in battle, the victim of the Night King. He used an ice spear, so Viserion dies.

But the action doesn’t end there because the Night King wants Viserion to fight on the side of the White Walker army. So he resurrects Viserion, ensuring that he can spread death and destruction on the armies of the North. The scene where the dragon’s eyes open back up will chill you to your bones. The eyes are blue, and it’s clear what has happened – Viserion has been resurrected as part of the evil White Walker army! From now on, it will not be Daenerys who controls him, it will be the evil Night King.

#5: Littlefinger dies a horrible, wretched death at the hands of the Starks

For the first six seasons of he show, Littlefinger has been a lying, conniving and manipulative force. Deep down, he has always coveted the power of the Iron Throne, and he has done everything in his power to control the destiny of the throne. Some have considered Littlefinger to be the greatest player in the Game of Thrones.

So it was only natural, given the inherent dynamic of the show, that he must die a horrible, nasty death. The ones who make it happen are Arya and Sansa, who plot to kill Littlefinger. By the end, he is groveling on his knees for mercy, but they don’t care – Arya cuts his throat with a dagger. The full range of emotions on display here is just terrifying.

#6: The Wall protecting the North falls

If there was a way to end Season 7, it was this – the collapse of the Wall protecting the North from the White Walkers and the Night King. And the way it happens is just epic – you have the marching army of the undead headed to the Wall, and then out of nowhere, the Night King flies in on Viserion. The dragon is breathing blue hell-fire everywhere it goes, and the Wall falls. You know what happens next – the army of the undead now has full access to all of Westeros. It’s time to be very afraid.

As a result, Season 8 is going to be even more epic. Will Jon Snow and Daenerys be able to combine forces to hold back this mighty army? Who will finally win the Game of Thrones? Season 7 just showed us how crazy things can get on “Game of Thrones,” and it looks like Season 8 is once again going to deliver everything that we’ve loved about this show with plenty of action-packed adventure and drama.

Movie Review: “Darkest Hour”

There is a good reason why “Darkest Hour” has already started picking up major film award nominations. This new Hollywood blockbuster is one of the best films of the year, offering a new and entertaining look at one of the most dramatic moments in world history. Not to mention that it features an epic performance by Gary Oldman in the role of Winston Churchill.

“Darkest Hour” is driven forward by Gary Oldman’s riveting performance as Winston Churchill

The starting point for any review of “Darkest Hour,” of course, starts and ends with Gary Oldman. He gives the performance of the year as Winston Churchill, perfectly capturing every inflection, every mannerism and every eye movement of this legendary historical figure. He steals every scene that he’s in, and none more so than the final, climactic scene of the movie, when he gives a rousing, uplifting final speech, imploring Britain to “never surrender.”

In fact, if you’re like most movie audience members, you’ll probably be standing and cheering by the end of the film. You know how it ends and you know that Britain will rally and find the self-determination and courage to defeat the evil Nazis, but the cinematic journey is a thrilling one nonetheless. You can thank Gary Oldman for that – he is simply captivating as Winston Churchill.

“Darkest Hour” captures the riveting story of a brave nation at war

Looking back at the annals of history, it’s easy to remember only the single, glorious moments – the final victory on the battlefield, the rousing speech that unites a nation, or the individual acts of courage and heroism that occur during wartime. What “Darkest Hour” reminds us is that war is a horrible, wrenching reality filled with ups and downs. There are “dark hours” when even the bravest and most courageous find it difficult to push forward. And, of course, there is the “darkest hour” of them all – the moment when surrender actually seems possible.
As a result, “Darkest Hour” has been almost universally applauded for its depiction of the full epic sweep of war – including all the moments of self-doubt of Britain’s most noble leaders. In fact, as we learn from the film, even Winston Churchill himself was plagued by notions that he might have made the wrong choice about standing up to Nazi Germany. And yet, to the world around him, he had to project an attitude of perfect self-confidence and unflappable courage.

Many of the most gripping moments of the film, in fact, are those moments when we see the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the British government. We see the tiny moments of weakness when the thought was that Britain could not possibly carry on its wartime endeavor against Nazi Germany. Of course, that required Winston Churchill to marshal all resources possible to pull together the British nation to persevere.

“Darkest Hour” has an uplifting message that the whole family can enjoy

Part of the reason for the film’s box office success (nearly $100 million on a budget of just $30 million) has been the mass appeal of the film for everybody. This is wartime, as we’ve never seen it before. There are dramatic action scenes of the war that occur in the film, but the core focus of the film is the inner workings of the British government. We see how statecraft is made. This elevates the film from just being a “war movie” or just being a “biopic.” It is thrilling drama as well.

And in the process, we learn new details about the war and the brave British citizens who rallied against the threat of Nazi Germany. It’s a stirring, uplifting message and certainly one that all generations can enjoy. Quite simply, “Darkest Hour” is a film to be shared with young and old alike. The story of heroism is timeless, and one that fathers and mothers can share with their children.

“Darkest Hour” features a stellar supporting cast

While Gary Oldman rightfully takes top billing as the legendary historical figure of Winston Churchill, there are plenty of other cast members who help to flesh out this cinematic tale of riveting humanity. For example, there is Churchill’s wife Clementine (played by Kristen Scott Thomas), who plays a necessary rock and refuge for her husband throughout the film. And don’t forget about Churchill’s secretary (played by Lily James) or King George (played by Ben Mendelsohn). All these cast members help to round out this timeless story of Britain during World War II.

“Darkest Hour” is more relevant than ever for American movie audiences

There is something distinctly timeless about this stunning new biopic by director Joe Wright. Many of us grew up reading about Winston Churchill in our history books. We might have even listened to the voice of Winston Churchill, imploring his nation to stay the course during wartime. But we never perhaps visualized what was actually happening in Britain at the time.

As the film shows us, Britain was very internally divided at the time. At the outset, even the British king was not supportive of the new Prime Minister, thrusting Churchill’s role into doubt from the very outset. Add in all the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and the constant efforts to undermine Churchill by members of his government, and a very different picture emerges than the one we are traditionally shown in the history books.

In short, war-torn Britain during the 1940’s very much mirrors the current situation in America right now, making the film more relevant than you might expect. We see that even a proud, resilient nation can suffer from infighting, and that even the bravest amongst us can feel challenged when things are not going right. That might, indeed, be the major takeaway message for U.S. movie audiences: never surrender, never give up, even in the darkest hour.

Will there be an Oscar for “Darkest Hour” in 2018?

It will be interesting to see how “Darkest Hour” fares at the Academy Awards this year, and whether or not a fascination with World War II will once again take hold in this nature. After “Dunkirk,” we now have “Darkest Hour.” It’s clear that Hollywood filmmakers have tapped into something very real and important in the national ethos. If there was ever an actor deserving of an Oscar in 2018, it is the inimitable Gary Oldman. In short, “Darkest Hour” is movie making at its very finest, and needs to be on the radars of any movie critic thinking about the best movies of 2017.

Netflix’s “Mudbound” Receives Strong Critical Acclaim

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Ever since the historical drama “Mudbound” started streaming on Netflix on November 17, positive word-of-mouth buzz has been building about this film. Director Dee Rees – already an indie film darling for the 2011 movie “Pariah” – is back with another film deserving of critical acclaim. “Mudbound” is inspiring, lyrical and even majestic – and often all three at the same time.

“Mudbound” breaks down the racial tensions in 1940’s America

At its core, “Mudbound” is a story of the black-white divide in the 1940’s Mississippi Delta. The action is focused on two families – one black, one white – showing how their intertwined lives on a run-down farm are emblematic of broader changes taking place within the Deep South. Both families are consumed by the same desires – to create a better world for their children and to deal with the reality of their sons being sent off to fight in Europe during World War II – but the outcomes are different for both because of race.

What is so masterly by director Dee Rees is how every detail seems to echo the broader narrative. Take the colors and tones found in the family homes – the white McAllan family has soothing, neutral colors while the black Jackson family has darker, more ominous colors. That helps to reinforce the broader idea that the issue of race relations influenced every aspect of daily life. The very term “Mudbound,” for example, is a reference to the idea that some classes of society should be kept down in the mud raised than being raised up.

And, to be sure, “Mudbound” shows us the various permutations of bigotry, hatred and prejudice that often played out in the Deep South. Most obviously, you have Pappy McAllan (played by Jonathan Banks), the outwardly racist patriarch of the family, who is none too happy to have to deal with his black neighbors. But there are more subtle forms of racism and prejudice as well, such as the implied notion that a black family must always be somehow subservient to a white family.

The treatment of the sons sent off to war only help to highlight these themes. For example, Ronsel Jackson, the young black son of Hap and Florence Jackson, is sent off to war to serve in a segregated tank unit. In Europe, he is treated with courtesy and respect – but when he returns home, he sees that ideas and perceptions have barely budged back in his home state of Mississippi. In short, despite being a war hero, he is still a second-class citizen in his own country.

“Mudbound” gives an unflinching, modern look at issues like sexism and PTSD

As much as this film is about race relations and the Jim Crow laws of the Deep South in 1940’s America, it’s also an illuminating look at the rampant sexism of the era. It was a time when women were inferior to men. The best example here is Laura McAllan (played by Carey Mulligan), who is raising children on a beaten-down farm. She is used to living in the city, but decides to marry Henry McAllan and settle down with him in the beginning of the movie. Mid-way through, we realize what has actually happened – she has accepted a life of domestic servitude, obeying his every command, even at a time when daily farm life was already hard enough.

And another issue that the film is willing to take on is the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The returning troops from World War II also suffered from PTSD, even if the historical literature of the time didn’t reflect it. It’s an important point that director Dee Rees is eager to make. In this case, Jamie McAllan (played by Garrett Hedlund), the younger brother of Henry, is haunted by memories of serving in a B-24 unit in the war. He may be charming, handsome and warm on the outside, but there is something very dark and disturbing happening inside.

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“Mudbound” has the sweep of a Western, but the detailed feel of a novel

Critics have been falling all over themselves to describe why “Mudbound” is so moving. What’s fascinating is that, while New York Magazine’s Vulture blog points out the movie has the “expansive majesty of a Western,” other critics have picked up on the detailed “novelistic” feel of the work.

Perhaps the best way to reconcile these two competing views is to realize that “Mudbound” is actually an adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel. And the film is actually faithful to the structure and layout of this novel, including the way it treats the main characters.

For example, the film focuses nearly equally on six main characters, three from each family. On the McAllan side, there is Laura, Henry and Jamie. And on the Jackson side, there is Hap, Florence (played marvelously by the music star Mary J. Blige) and Ronsel. We see their intersecting stories and dialogues, and it’s fascinating to see the two families’ stories, juxtaposed as they are next to each other.

The result is, as critics have also pointed out, that “Mudbound” feels like a “an old-fashioned epic drama.”  Events play out the way they would in a novel, with new details reinforcing and retracing older narratives – and all in the span of just over two hours.

It’s easy to see why critics have been raving about “Mudbound” ever since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017. At that time, Netflix swooped in to purchase the film, with the idea that such a remarkable film should have the benefit of a much larger audience.

Despite all the prejudice, rancor and bitterness of 1940’s America and despite all the pain and suffering of World War II taking place in the background, there is an undercurrent of optimism throughout the film. Just as America emerged from the War more confident, more powerful and more energetic, so will these families. All the old sins of the past will be expiated, and in their place, will rise a new, stronger and more fair society. If you’re currently discouraged by the bitter divisiveness taking place in America right now – director Dee Rees gives us reason for hope.

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Movie Review: “Murder on the Orient Express”

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Even if you’ve already read Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel and watched the 1974 film from Sidney Lumet, you’ll want to watch Kenneth Branagh’s $55 million remake of “Murder on the Orient Express.” This new film, released on November 10, features an amazing, all-star cast as well as new and interesting takes on this classic murder mystery. Clearly, Kenneth Branagh, who both directs and plays the role of legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, is at the top of his game with “Murder on the Orient Express.”

“Murder on the Orient Express” features a world-class ensemble cast

Kenneth Branagh has assembled a veritable who’s who from Hollywood for this movie. There’s Johnny Depp, who plays the scandalous American businessman Samuel Ratchett, who is murdered while on the train. There’s Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays a very flamboyant Mrs. Hubbard. There’s Judi Dench, who plays the Princess Dragomiroff. There’s Penelope Cruz, who plays Pilar Estravados. And that’s just the beginning – there’s also Daisey Ridley (as the ingénue Mary Debenham), Josh Gad (as a whisky-drinking personal assistant to Ratchett), and Willem Dafoe (who plays a slightly off-kilter Austrian professor).

Thus, one good reason to go see this film is simply to see this all-star cast in action. Johnny Depp deserves special mention here, primarily because the drama in “Murder on the Orient Express” revolves around his mysterious murder. Clues seem to point everywhere – and nowhere – at the same time. And Depp, always up for eccentric and entertaining character roles, pulls off his Samuel Ratchett character with great dexterity. In this film, he is sporting scars and a thug-like accent, and it’s clear that his character has led a very checkered life. But is it enough to murder him? That’s for Hercule Poirot to figure out.

Of course, the inspiration for having such a talented ensemble cast comes from Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film. Lumet gathered together a similar set of Hollywood luminaries – Albert Finney, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery – to star in Agatha Christie’s acclaimed murder mystery. What makes this casting decision work, of course, is that nearly all the action takes place within the tight quarters of the train itself. Having all of these stars in such proximity while on screen is a real moviegoer’s delight.

We see a new kind of Hercule Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express”

For Agatha Christie fans, the character of Hercule Poirot has always been somewhat troublesome. His character is filled with so many tics and pet phrases that it’s hard to pull off this role on the big screen without making his character appear campy. And this is where Kenneth Branagh really succeeds – his character of Hercule Poirot is a new kind of Poirot that hasn’t been seen yet.

Yes, Poirot is still filled with odd little mannerisms and pet phrases, but the focus here is much more on his aversion to disorder. For Poirot, solving a mystery is all about bringing order to the world. And the film illustrates this is in the very beginning, when Poirot inadvertently steps into a pile of manure. For anyone else, the next step would be to furiously wash off all the manure and perhaps change into a new pair of trousers for good measure. But Poirot takes a different approach – he proceeds to step with his other foot right into the manure. Why? As he tells the audience, it’s all about bringing order to the world. If the left shoe is soiled, then the right shoe must be as well.

This insight into the mentality of Poirot is essential to the film – and not just an excuse to show the strange mannerisms of this beloved Belgian detective. When he is solving the murder mystery, it is this sense of “order” that dictates his thought process and how he eventually decides to deal with the case.

“Murder on the Orient Express” updates the classic murder mystery

Some critics have noted that this remake has nothing new to say that the first three adaptations of the book – including the 1974 film and the 2001 TV film – didn’t already cover. But that’s not entirely true. If anything, Branagh’s film provides a welcome update to the classic murder mystery.

Here’s just one example: in earlier versions of the story, Poirot assembles all the train passengers into a dining car on the train to tell them his final conclusion. In this film version, though, Poirot leads all the passengers out of the train and into a dark railroad tunnel.

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“Murder on the Orient Express” brilliantly integrates CGI effects

This new film also is noteworthy for the way it is filmed. First and foremost, it means providing some stunning visuals. Some critics, in fact, have gone so far as to describe the cinematography of the film as “opulent.” Part of this, no doubt, is the result of shooting the film with a 65mm camera. This is a camera usually reserved for epic, sweeping films – think “Lawrence of Arabia – but here the camera is deftly used to shoot the surrounding landscape of the moving train. It all adds up to making this film feel much “bigger” than one might assume. In short, this is not just a “train movie” – it feels much more cinematic and sweeping.

“Murder on the Orient Express” will keep you guessing until the very end

The hallmark of any great murder mystery, of course, is the ability to keep the suspense going until the very end. Usually, there are plenty of plot twists and assumptions laid bare along the way. And that’s why this new film from Kenneth Branagh is so extraordinary – even when you know the ending to the book – you’re kept guessing until the very end. You keep asking yourself: “Yes, but what if Branagh decides to mix things up a bit?”

In short, this is an excellent film: five stars out of five. It boasts an incredible, all-star ensemble cast, a talented director with a real vision for bringing classic stories to life, and first-rate cinematography. This is a film that will appeal to more than just Agatha Christie fans. In fact, it is quite likely that this film will help to create a whole new generation of Agatha Christie fans!

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How the National Anthem Controversy Is Reshaping the World of Sports TV

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The national anthem controversy is reshaping the world of sports TV for one simple reason: it has muddied the waters between the political world and the sports world. A hot-button issue like the national anthem controversy forced people to choose sides – and it’s now clear that sports TV networks are unwilling to take a principled stand if it means taking a direct hit to their pocketbooks.

As long as cable TV networks like ESPN were literally minting money, they could afford to take sides. But now, at a time when subscribers are down and cable TV viewers are cutting the cord forever, sports TV networks are doing everything in their power to hold on to all and any viewers. In short, ESPN and other sports networks are willing to compromise on the type of content they offer and how they present it, all in the name of ratings and subscribers.

The national anthem controversy goes from sideshow to national debate topic

Starting in 2016, the national anthem controversy – sparked almost entirely by the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the national anthem instead of standing – had been bubbling over. A handful of other athletes took the similar step of kneeling instead of standing during sporting events, but it was mostly a sidelight – not the main course. These acts of defiance received attention from networks like ESPN, but these networks could take a neutral stance on whether it was good or bad for professional sports.

However, when President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter, encouraging NFL owners to bench any players not standing for the national anthem during the season, the issue took on a life of its own. Suddenly, it was all over the news. It was front-page news, and people had to take sides. Sports TV networks began building up the drama of any sporting event they televised by pondering aloud, “Who’s going to kneel this week?” And people started debating what the act of kneeling really meant: Was it a sign of solidarity, a sign of protest, or a sign of disrespect?

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The Jemele Hill controversy: ESPN vs. the White House

To understand how deeply the national anthem controversy has started to reshape the world of sports TV, Exhibit A has to be the Jemele Hill controversy, involving the African-American host of “SC6,” the 6pm version of Sports Center featuring her and Michael Smith. The two are paid to have strong opinions about the world of sports – but not necessarily to have strong opinions about the world of politics and culture.

Jemele Hill pushed the limits of how far an on-air host could go by publicly tweeting that President Trump was a “white supremacist” who surrounded himself with other “white supremacists.” That, of course, did not go over well with the White House, with President Trump’s press team suggesting that such a comment was a “fireable offense” for ESPN. The strong insinuation was that ESPN should simply fire Jemele Hill.

As if that did not go far enough, Jemele Hill continued to push against the boundary of the permissible. Her next act was to go after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after he suggested that any Cowboys player not standing for the national anthem would be benched.

Jemele Hill punched right back, suggesting that outraged fans should start going after Jones’s advertisers – the way you’re going to hit hard against a member of the Top 1% of society is by going after their pocketbooks. Forced to clarify her tweets, Jemele Hill admitted that, yes, she was calling for a boycott to put pressure on Jones. In other words, she wanted consumers to boycott any company doing business with the Cowboys.

That, of course, set off the equivalent of a neutron bomb in ESPN HQ. ESPN has lucrative deals with professional sports leagues – including a $15.2 billion (billion!) deal to broadcast NFL games – and there was absolutely no way that the network could let its on-air talent get away with calling for a boycott via social media. ESPN promptly suspended her for 2 weeks. Moreover, ESPN went on record, saying that the network was “all about sports” and that it was not a “political organization.”

The national anthem controversy and the financial condition of cable TV

So why did ESPN take these extraordinary steps? The first thing you have to know is that the biggest name in sports TV has been hemorrhaging viewers for years. From 2015 to 2017, the number of ESPN subscribers has dropped 7.4%, to below the 88 million mark. In the world of cable TV, that’s a precipitous drop. Things got so bad, in fact, that the parent company of ESPN, Walt Disney, started looking for ways to cut costs at the vaunted sports network. That led to a much-publicized purge at ESPN, during which the network let go of expensive on-air and production talent, all in the name of protecting the bottom line.

So, at the very moment that the national anthem controversy was reaching its apex, ESPN and other sports TV networks were facing a dilemma: they were bleeding subscribers, and could little afford any new controversy that would result in even more losses. And they certainly didn’t want to wade into any Twitter war involving President Trump and the White House. ESPN suddenly had a very strong incentive to stop the politicization of sports.

Owners vs. players: Time for cable sports TV networks to take sides?

Even more awkwardly, the big sports networks (and especially ESPN) have always been first and foremost about the sports personalities – and not the owners. In the world that existed pre-Trump, ESPN actually defended the right of players to take the knee. Popular ESPN sports host Stephen A. Smith, for example, has largely been given carte blanche to say whatever he wanted about the Colin Kaepernick controversy. He publicly came out against the NFL owners, suggesting (or, at least, insinuating) that they were colluding to prevent Kaepernick from ever getting another job in the NFL. Every time a star QB went down with an injury, there was Stephen A. Smith, suggesting that Kaepernick might be a very nice fit.

But those days may be coming to a close. The last thing these cable sports networks want is to be portrayed as liberal and biased. Why? It has to do with the dollars involved. Is the NFL really going to sign another broadcast deal with ESPN if it constantly gets beaten up on the air, day after day? Are sports viewers really going to stick around if they sense that ESPN is pushing a non-patriotic agenda on them?

When it comes to the national anthem controversy, there are a lot of gray issues. There’s nothing black and white about it – except the players involved. What this huge controversy has done is reshape the media landscape, setting up clear “Do not trespass” signs around certain hot-button issues. At a time when people are cutting the cord, and a time when a single tweet can set off a media firestorm that reaches the White House, these are very interesting times indeed for sports TV broadcasters.

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Chris Hemsworth Shines in “Thor: Ragnarok”

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After a long and much-anticipated wait, “Thor: Ragnarok” is finally arriving in movie cinemas on November 3. This third installment in the “Thor” franchise is bigger and better than ever, and a key reason for that is Chris Hemsworth in the role of the mythical Thor. In this $180 million blockbuster from Marvel, Chris Hemsworth really shines.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is the funniest and most enjoyable Marvel film yet

The very best Marvel films are known for their superhero characters, the fantastic plot lines, and their wonderful CGI special effects. But one thing that they are not known for are their humor. In short, Marvel films have seemed to follow a very defined template, and a key part of that template has never been humor. That’s what makes “Thor: Ragnarok” so much fun and so enjoyable –it’s perhaps the funniest and most enjoyable Marvel film yet.

Critic after critic has praised “Thor: Ragnarok” as a “breath of fresh air in the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe]” and as “the funniest Marvel film so far by no small margin.” And a big reason for that is the comic prowess of Chris Hemsworth. If you are only thinking of him as a huge, hunky Thor figure, then you’re in for a real treat. It is Hemsworth who gets some of the funniest lines of the entire movie.

For example, there is one scene on the planet Sakaar, where the imprisoned Thor must fight to the death with a rival in a gladiatorial combat arena. When he finds out that his rival will be the Hulk, his longtime friend, he bursts out laughing with a huge “Yessss!” and delivers one of the funniest lines of the whole movie, “We know each other… we’re old friends from work.”

Chris Hemsworth shines in “Thor: Ragnarok” by giving us a fresh, new Thor

This is the third “Thor” film (and the fifth film in which the character Thor has appeared), so we’ve gotten pretty used to what to expect from the character. This character has flowing blond locks, a buff body, and a magical hammer. So Chris Hemsworth has decided to shake things up for this film – he’s cut off his hair, changed his costume and, oh yes, he’s lost the magical hammer that made him so powerful.

In interviews, Chris Hemsworth has commented on the new-look Thor. In collaboration with director Taika Waititi, Hemsworth decided that Thor needed to be freshened up for movie audiences. On “Good Morning America,” for example, he told a live studio audience that he wanted to “change things up.” And, oh boy, does it work for “Thor: Ragnarok.” This is a sequel and a franchise film, but it feels fresh and new. No wonder people are talking about Chris Hemsworth and his shining role in this new Marvel film.

Chris Hemsworth shines as the leader of a team trying to save Asgard from the Goddess of Death

“Thor: Ragnarok” is more than just a blockbuster film filled with lots of great action sequences – such as the gladiatorial “Contest of Champions” on the planet Sakaar – it’s also a quest movie in which a band of heroes – Thor, Loki, the Hulk and Valkyrie – must do battle with Hela, the Goddess of Death (played by Cate Blanchett).

And it’s here, with all the interactions between this group of heroes, that Chris Hemsworth as Thor really shines. First of all, there is a friendly, brotherly-like competition with his stepbrother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston). There is real humor in there. And there is also Thor’s friendship with the Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), which allows Chris Hemsworth to become a lovable, hunky character who’s not-so-bright but charming. A generation ago, he’s what movie reviewers would have referred to as a “lovable lunk.”

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Chris Hemsworth has some of the best action scenes in a bold and outrageous action movie

What Marvel fans want, of course, is plenty of action and glorious CGI special effects, and it’s here that “Thor: Ragnarok” really delivers. There are scenes in which Thor wields his fabulous hammer, and others in which he wields equally awe-inspiring swords. There are plenty of action scenes of him flying through the air, and doing everything in his power to save his home planet Asgard from almost certain extinction.

The one action scene, by far, that is going to delight fans is the gladiator scene involving Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) and Mark Ruffalo (as the Hulk). This is big-time, over-the-top Marvel fun, and it’s all presided over by the Grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum)

And there are plenty more elements of this action quest movie that need to be mentioned – like Hela the Goddess of Death and her unbelievable powers of destruction. And don’t’ forget about Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) or the Hulk – all by themselves, they are scene-stealers

Chris Hemsworth is the biggest star in an all-star cast

As you might have noticed by now, Chris Hemsworth is hardly alone as a big-name Hollywood movie star in this film. In addition, you have Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, and Jeff Goldblum. And yet, despite the presence of all these Hollywood luminaries, the one star who shines brightest is Chris Hemsworth.

Whether he is traveling to the Nine Realms in search of the Infinity Stones, trapped on the planet Sakaar, or saving his home planet Asgard from near-certain destruction, Chris Hemsworth really shines. Before this movie, it appeared that the “Thor” movie franchise might be running its’ course, but now, a completely new narrative is emerging: “Thor” is one of the most dynamic franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In short, we need more Thor, and we definitely need more Chris Hemsworth (preferably with his shirt off). Marvel took a big risk by bringing on the New Zealand director Taika Waititi, until now previously known mostly for small indie films and comedies, but it looks like this gamble really paid off. He’s injected some real humor into this film franchise, and Chris Hemsworth is a big reason why: he really shines in “Thor: Ragnarok.”

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