Let’s be real, I’m not really sorry, someone had to do it. Thor: Ragnarok smashes (oh let the puns begin) it’s way to the big screen as the 17th entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 3rd Thor movie. Are you getting tired of these things yet, need a little wake-up call? Enter director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), the alarm playing sweet 80s glam rock into your ears. The film follows Thor on a wild adventure, trying to escape a mysterious planet before Hela (played by Cate BlanchetT) destroys Asgard. Everybody is looking for a reason to claim superhero fatigue and you’re gonna have to look pretty hard to find one here, as Thor: Ragnarok is filled with so much fun and energy to keep fans from getting tired.
Off the bat, I love that we have finally settled on a tone and personality that works for Thor. When we first meet the God of Thunder in Thor, he’s a misguided brute in a fish-out-of water film that was inconsistent, but not a bad start. In Thor: The Dark World, Thor is trying to find his place and…ummm, well I don’t really remember much from that movie. But as Thor spent more time with the Avengers and Jane (I guess), he has seemingly become more human. Which brings us to now, in which Thor is the witty bro we’ve all wanted him to be. That sounds negative, but it works due to Chris Hemsworth’s natural charisma. But if you think back to Ghostbusters, you’ll see how funny Hemsworth is (say what you want, his interview almost made me pee myself). His comedic timing is fantastic, delivering the electric dialogue (oooh, give him another one) with ease. Thor has always been a fun character and I’m a big Hemsworth fan, but Taika Waititi has made Thor my new favorite Avenger.
But it’s not just Hemsworth, everybody’s timing and chemistry were on point. Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeff Goldblum all had me in laughing at one point or another. And of course stealing scenes was the man the director himself, who provided the voice and motion-capture performance of Korg, who had one of the best lines in the film and made me laugh louder than I ever have in an MCU film. I mean Ant-Man and the GOTG films are funny in their own rights, but I can’t stress enough how good the comedy is here. This was to be expected from a Taika Waititi film, but I was expecting this much of his thumbprint to show in this film. I think this might be the most free range Marvel has given any of its directors.
Leading up to Thor: Ragnarok, the film was often described as buddy-adventure-road trip movie and it’s very much exactly that. A lot of the film’s strongest moments are ones between duos, whether it be Thor & Hulk, Thor & Loki, or even Hulk & Valkyrie. The film’s cast, consisting of recognizable faces and some new ones, all really seemed to be on the same page. Tom Hiddleston brings his usual charm and Tess Thompson fit like a glove, who is easily the strongest female character in the MCU next to Black Widow. Just want to take a minute to really praise what this film did with the character of Valkyrie: she’s strong and independent from the protagonist, doesn’t wait to act, and there was next to no love story between her & Thor. In the film characters just revel in her presence, and not just her appearance (not to say Tessa Thompson doesn’t look damn good) but her power and skill. With everything going on in the entertainment world surrounding women, it was quite refreshing to see such a strong female character respected in the way Valkyrie was, kudos all around.
Back to movie stuff, while on the subject of new females faces, let’s talk about Hela and the story a bit. This film, unfortunately, is not perfect and without it’s faults. One stylistic decision seemed to be focusing on character moments rather than plot, a similar approach Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 took. Hela wasn’t the best villain in the world, especially with Cate Blanchett on board putting expectations high. But she was not the worst either. Hela has a fantastic design, Blanchett was pretty good, and she was intimidating at times. However, due to some plot elements, Hela was wasted a bit. Without spoilers, there is information to her character that could have been focused on more than it was. She could have been more than the standard MCU villain, which we have 2 definitive types of: a.) rival of the character in some way and will have similar powers/suit as the hero OR b.) a power-hungry being with generic, faceless henchman and wants to rule/destroy everything, with Hela being somewhere in the middle. I mean they had the “Goddess of Death” at their disposal, but all I saw was the Goddess of Swords. The film also focused so much on Thor & Hulk trying to escape the planet, that it didn’t have a sense of urgency. Like yeah, we’re having a lot of fun and all but shouldn’t you be trying to save Asgard a little faster? I also have a problem with Anthony Hopkins being shoehorned in and out of the film, but I have a on why and spoilers, so I’m just gonna leave it at at.
Can’t really get into more there without getting into spoilers and getting too knit-picky. So how a bout a few more highlights? One, loved the way they integrated Hulk/Bruce Banner into the film. It’s a smart way to get some character stuff from him without using a full movie. Plus, Mark Ruffalo’s humor fit perfectly. Two, the cinematography and camera work is really good here. This film contains some of my favorite shots from the MCU and very inventive fight choreography. Three, Jeff Goldblum. Not much needs to be said there, for obvious reasons. A lot of people were hyping up the music, which I’ll say was used effectively, but was mixed terribly. The use of “Immigrant Song” from the trailer was fun, but the score was super quiet. It was awesome, just wish I could hear it.
I won’t say it until after a second viewing, but this could be my favorite MCU film. Taiki Waititi brings a lot of new flavor to the character of Thor, giving him and the film a distinct personality. Thor: Ragnarok delivers a fun-filled road trip just like the ones you went on with your best friends, filled with laughs and adventure…if you’re best friend is a green bipolar superhero who wants to kick your ass. Though it falls victim to a few usual pitfalls of the franchise, you’re going to be having way too much fun to care. I guess you could say this film is a worthy (reaching, but still a Thor-related pun) entry into the MCU. I’ll see myself out now, go see Thor: Ragnarok.