Thor Ragnarok (2017)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Taika Waititi, Karl Urban
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Synopsis: Thor loses his hammer and his hair and goes on some wacky adventures with old as well as some new friends.
What work(s): Out of all the Marvel superhero flicks, it’s amazing to me that Thor made it to a trilogy. But even more super-duper amazing was that this third installment was the most entertaining. Hiring Waititi, who like James Gunn, is a more comedic director taking the helm was a breath of fresh air and made Thor a lot less stuffy. Gone are the heavy-handedness of this boring Norse god. This film lets loose in more ways than one in giving Thor (and the Hulk) a very fun and fresh take on their adventure. The weird thing is Ragnarok in norse myth is actually their armageddon and still the tone was more light-hearted and comedic. I recently watched Thor: The Dark World (which at the time of its release was my least favorite Marvel movie) and it was drastically different to Thor: Ragnarok in tone and style. The first two Thor’s were made very traditionally in the Marvel sense of the word. Somewhat strict and serious tone with some flourishes of comedy and levity. This is the exact opposite. I think I laughed the most at this film. More so than the Guardians of the Galaxy. This was practically a spoof of Thor.
But the film wasn’t without it’s action and great special effects. The fight between Thor and Hulk in the arena was a great fight scene. But even I’m going through some comic book fatigue and the action/adventure tropes are getting thin so I don’t get too impressed by the CGI fist-i-cuffs anymore. What I’m looking for is a fresh take on these beloved characters and this is what Waititi and gang accomplished.
Cate Blanchett stands out as a great Marvel villain. While being extremely ‘Hela’-bent on destroying Asgard she also has some light quirky moments and is also not approached as stuffy. In some ways, I thought it was out of place for a villain but the more I thought about it, her portrayal fit the whole movie’s tone fine. Tessa Thompson is also a stand-out character, playing Valkryie and she’s more or less the most serious character in the film. She’s roguish, an alcoholic and just plain depressed. But she’s the glue to keeping this film from being a 100% comedy spoof extravaganza.
The Music. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo does the score and it’s what you would expect from him—quirky nostalgic sounding synth. I’m not sure where all this 80s synth revival came from or where it’s going but in a movie like Ragnarok it works.
What fail(s): In a film with this kind of homer tone change there isn’t much to nitpick but I do have some. Loki has become kind of boring in the MCU. His character arc is basically going nowhere and I feel like they don’t know what to do with him anymore. The trickster god was again, untrustworthy but mostly only to Thor. I honestly can’t think of him doing anything sinister with any one else. And that basically means in the 2 other Thor movies. Sure, he took over Odin at the end of Dark World but since then, he was shown as being mostly benevolent ruling Asgard in peace. But by the end it looks like he could be a good guy with Thor. Not sure what Loki’s role will be in the next installment.
I loved the teaser trailer but now I’m seeing that it gave the best part of the movie away, which was the Thor and Hulk battle in the Grandmaster’s arena. If the reveal of the Hulk in the arena was unknown until he crashed through it would’ve been extraordinarily awesome.
The other promotional materials showed that Thor teamed up with Valkyrie, Loki, and The Hulk to do battle against the common enemy but that was more or less a failed attempt at a team. If they were a team it wasn’t a solid team effort really. Not like the trailers made it out to be. But this is a minor nitpick.
There’s maybe too much going in this one film. There’s like 3 or 4 plots happening at once and maybe a character too much crammed in there. Heimdall is in the film for like 5 minutes saving Asgardians. Bruce Banner in human form is great but short. Dr. Strange makes a cameo to advance the plot in a very weak reason. After only one viewing, it didn’t seem to bother me really but I’m sure with repeat viewings the cramming of many plot points might show more.
Not enough Jeff Goldbum.
Overall: A very good time at the movies for all. It seems Marvel saw the DC movies and said: ‘We need to do the exact opposite of them. Our first two dozen flicks were fun but were too serious. Let’s start to make our flicks with more tongue-in-cheek and add more humor.’ Marvel released three movies this year alone and all three were more comedy than action/adventure comic book. Meanwhile Superman is still the most depressing comic book superhero on the silver screen. Go figure. But whatever Marvel is doing it’s working and me and my friends had a great time seeing Ragnarok.
Score: 9 Triple Vampire Stabbing Sticks (out of 10)
This was so much fun!