Thor: Ragnarok

thor_ragnarok_ver2STARS4A lot has happened since 2013, the year Thor’s last standalone film came out. Eight, count ’em EIGHT Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) entries have separated Thor: The Dark World and the current Thor: Ragnarok. Perhaps that’s why the difference between the two chapters is like night and day. Where The Dark World was a ponderous, needlessly complicated dirge through exposition, Ragnarok is a light, breezy comical fun fest. I’ve always been a fan of humor in my superhero flicks. I mean the idea of people dressing up in costumes and fighting crime is inherently silly so any narrative that understands this idea is a favorable one. It’s the reason why the Guardians of the Galaxy adaptations are so wonderful. New Zealand director Taika Waititi brings a lighthearted take to the proceedings. His interpretation of the MCU is a hysterical delight.

Thor: Ragnarok does have some supplementary explication if you’re needing that sort of thing. We’re told that the kingdom of Asgard will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarok, the final destruction of the world. Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is dying. His passing will allow his firstborn daughter — and Thor’s half-sister — Hela (Cate Blanchett) to escape from a prison. She is an evil badass and a serious threat to peace. She’s so powerful in fact that she forces Thor out of Asgard. He is soon apprehended by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) a servant of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). As the ruler of the planet Sakaar, the Grandmaster holds gladiator tournaments. Holy shades of Flash Gordon! Unfortunately, the advertising spoiled who Thor meets in that tournament. It should have remained a mystery so if you haven’t seen the trailer, I won’t ruin the surprise here. Anyway, Thor still wants to save Asgard and prevent Ragnarok from happening. The script plays fast and loose with the hallmarks of the character. Thor sports a different outfit, his golden tresses are shorn and his hammer Mjolnir is shattered. The fact that these things happen isn’t a spoiler but knowing how and why would be. Therein lies the joy. The way things unfold is enjoyable and always served with a heaping cup of frivolity.

Thor: Ragnarok boasts an impressive cast of A-list talent. Chris Hemsworth’s interactions with the supporting cast are uniformly great. Cate Blanchett is the over-the-top villainess Hela and she is hella good.  She is an effective evocation of a goddess that draws on both the physical and psychological qualities of Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. With her horned headdress, she is like the manifestation of some magnificent elk in human form. Her evildoer is just as much a camp depiction as it is a CGI exhibition of special effects. Jeff Goldblum is a sardonic delight as The Grandmaster. Mark Ruffalo turns up as Bruce Banner/Hulk and his presence is a welcome addition. Ruffalo’s ability to alternately convey both the aggressive and warm tendencies of the character is admirable. Tessa Thompson (Creed) is a tough-talking, hard-drinking Valkyrie. Karl Urban is Skurge, an Asgardian warrior who becomes Hela’s right-hand minion. Idris Elba is back as Heimdall, and Anthony Hopkins appears briefly as Odin. Also returning is Tom Hiddleston as Loki but he gets a deeper mention in the next paragraph.

This is Chris Hemsworth’s fifth portrayal of the Norse deity in an MCU movie and he’s really grown into the role. Honing his comedic sensibilities and embracing the personality in a way that feels more lived-in.  He’s getting more in touch with Thor’s psyche.  The actor has always looked the part but now he seems to embody the mindset. His considerable charisma is at its peak. He’s more engaging than ever. For the first time,  Hemsworth doesn’t feel like he’s guest-starring in his own movie. Tom Hiddleston as Loki has always been a highlight in these ensembles, and he is great here too but now he’s supporting the god of thunder rather than stealing his thunder. The two of them have always had palpable chemistry and their scenes together here are wonderful. Combine that with an extravaganza of sheer excess and you’ve got a bold, splashy color-soaked spectacular. There is probably more eye candy than the human mind can grasp in one sitting. Multiple viewings may be needed to appreciate it all. Thor: Ragnarok isn’t the most thoughtful story in the MCU, but it could be the most visually appealing. I sat back in my chair, jaw agape at the spectacle. It’s also exceptionally comical throughout. Warning: there is a passage through the space-time continuum called the Devil’s Anus. Perhaps not always funny on the level of Guardians of the Galaxy, but pretty close. All of that combines to make this a rousing good time at the movies. It’s entertaining AF.

11-02-17

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19 Responses to “Thor: Ragnarok”

  1. To me, ‘Wonder Woman’ is still the best comic book film of the year because it was actually about something. This movie arguably isn’t about anything. It’s just a series of comedic, action set-pieces, which is fine, if those action set-pieces were actually interesting, and the action set-pieces aren’t that interesting here. Even Thor’s gladiator scene ended in a way that I thought was odd. You think Thor is going to be smashed and that he’s going to become the next “Doug” but then all of a sudden he’s shirtless and comfortably walking around all buff. I was confused as to what happened?

    • In the gladiator fight, The Grandmaster stepped in and intervened. It ended abruptly so yeah not the best ending to that match-up.

      I disagree with your take on the action set-pieces though. Among the most spectacular (and funny) of the entire year. The performances perfectly heightened and supported the awesome spectacle. Cate Blanchett alone was worth the price of admission. Jeff Goldblum too.

      • I get that the Grandmaster intervened, but my question was to what end? And then why let Thor walk around comfortably in the Hulk’s bedroom? What was the Grandmaster’s plan after intervening? If the Hulk was his champion, what did the Grandmaster think he would gain by saving Thor’s life?

      • The Grandmaster didn’t want to lose face. The Hulk was his favorite so he stopped the fight. Ultimately we don’t see for what purpose because Thor escapes. But if it helps, sometimes politicians make stupid decisions that defy logic.

  2. So much fun. I laughed a lot and marveled “hee hee” at this visually stunning event. So much to enjoy. Especially all the cameos. Fun fun fun. Who cares if the story was a little meh. I would definitely see this again. 4stars.

  3. Great review. I had a lot of fun with this one. I LOVE funny Thor. 🙂

  4. Really looikg forward to getting to see this! My schedule these days is all out of whack, I for whatever reason talked myself out of seeing it opening night. Turns out that was my best chance in a few days, so I feel like that was an oversight. Still, it sounds like this will be worth the wait.

  5. Completely agree! My review was pretty similar as well, it really feels like the first decent Thor film, everyone is just having fun with it.

  6. This was only the second film I saw in the cinema this year… joys of having a small child. But I had such a laugh with it. So much fun.

  7. It Connor Kunz Says:

    It’s a 4/5 from me as well. I think the MCU is slowly getting better. It would easily be my favorite comic book movie of the year if not for Wonder Woman.

    • It’s been a great year for “comic book movies.” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan…I enjoyed all of these.

  8. Arturas Tarasevicius Says:

    I just loved the synth soundtrack, nice review!!!

    • Oh yeah! That was Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO fame. He’s done a lot of soundtracks too. Besides Thor: Ragnarok, he also did Beatriz at Dinner, Brad’s Status and The LEGO Ninjago Movie in 2017 alone!

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