Whosoever reviews this movie, if they be worthy, shall enjoy the awesomeness that is Thor: Ragnarok. Get it? Cause it’s poking fun at the Mjonir inscription! Okay I’m done now, on with the review…
When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the one thing that a lot of people tend to say is the “weak spot” of them are the Thor movies. They’re not bad, but they’re not exactly great either. They’re mostly serviceable. There are plenty of good things about them, such as Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the action is usually okay and the stories fairly entertaining for what they are. Things that were holding them back from being truly great were keeping most of the story on Earth; the bland love interest that is Jane Foster (no offense, Natalie Portman), unnecessary comic relief (looking at you, Darcy Lewis; also no offense, Kat Dennings, but with the first two Thor movies and 2 Broke Girls, you REALLY need to pick better projects); characters that seem like they’d be important because they’re from the comics, but in the movies they’re more or less one-note, despite good actors playing them; and more or less lacking in excitement while trying to be taken seriously. This movie pretty much throws that stuff right off the Bifrost Bridge and infuses it with an electrifying sense of fun and just runs wild.
If the title of the movie was any indication, basically it’s about Thor trying to stop Ragnarok, the end of all things, from happening to Asgard, and he teams up with Loki, Hulk, Valkyrie, and others, to stop Hela, the Goddess of Death, as well as having some outer-space shenanigans including a gladiatorial arena fight hosted by the Grandmaster. While the movie does try to be serious like previous movies, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, it tries to be exciting, fun, and joyful, while also being serious. It’s not too serious that it can’t have fun, but also not too silly that it can’t be taken seriously.
I didn’t know much about the director, Taika Waititi, before this movie came out, other than he played Thomas Kalmaku in Green Lantern (I know I already made this joke before, but between him and Jon Favreau, who else is learning from being in a bad comic book movie before making their own?) and directing some comedy movies and other stuff. But from what I looked up about him and what he did with this movie, I’d say it definitely worked. According to him, approximately 80% of the dialogue was improvised, something of which he encourages in his movies, and it shows, and unlike another movie Hemsworth starred in, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call , it actually works. The humor is usually spot-on, the jokes are funny, it hardly ever feels forced, and with the movie’s pacing and running time, it just emphasizes more on the fun aspect this movie has. And since he was also influenced by 70s and 80s sci-fi, action-comedy, and road movies, especially Big Trouble in Little China (a remake of which is pointless, if I must say), for this movie, it definitely shows and works for it.The returning cast from the previous Thor movies pretty much knock it out of the park here. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are great as Thor and Loki and their frenemy relationship that’s developed over the course of the MCU movies they’ve appeared in is in full force whenever they’re together and it’s just cute and cool to watch. It’s also nice to finally see Idris Elba as Heimdall getting more screen time than before and do more, even if it isn’t that much, but still more than previous appearances. Even Anthony Hopkins does a more or less familiar yet kinda revitalized depiction of Odin, given the movie’s story and tone, and the impact it provides as the story goes along. And while the Warriors Three aren’t in it for very long, it’s nice to see them show up and how their roles are integrated in the story and what kind of impact Hela will provide for the film.
At first I thought it was odd to include Hulk in the movie, the story just seemed right for it considering that Planet Hulk was a major influence, and Mark Ruffalo is perfect in his portrayal of the dual role of Hulk and Banner, with both his scenes in which he’s paired with Hemsworth and even his solo moments are action-comedy gold (almost makes me wish for a solo Hulk movie; c’mon Universal, can’t you see people want another Hulk movie? Just work out a deal with Marvel, like Sony “kinda” did). Apparently, his role in this movie is actually the start of an arc for his character that’ll be carried out through Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, so I’m interested where that goes (hopefully to another solo flick, please).
The other new additions to the cast feel than more than welcome here. Tessa Thompson shines as Valkyrie, pretty much a force to be reckoned with, whether she is against or alongside Thor. Cate Blanchett is just a delight as Hela, combining wit, humor, ferocity, and malice in probably one of the best depictions of a supervillain in an MCU movie to date. If I had to rank her alongside other villains in the MCU movies, I’d say she’d be at number three, below Vulture and Loki (yes I know there’s Thanos, but he hasn’t gotten his big spotlight yet, so wait til Infinity War for that to happen, I guess). Karl Urban does great as Skurge, and even though his role may not be that big at times, it’s cool to see what the character goes through, especially in pivotal parts of the movie, as it tries to show him how he feels getting caught up in all these events and what he does about it, and can be pretty badass when the movie calls for it. Also how cool is it to see a mini-Lord of the Rings reunion in this movie with Eomer and Galadriel together?
Taika Waititi as Korg also just cracks me up, something I never thought could be done with the character, but it just does and works for this movie. And of course, let’s not forget the master of “ums and uhs”, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. Yes, he does his trademark “uh” every now and then, but his character is such a quirky source of enjoyment that I couldn’t help but be giddy with excitement and laugh with every time he appears. The inclusion of Fenris Wolf and Surtur are also welcome additions, not necessarily overcrowding the movie, but really adding more to the overall epicness and surrealism the movie provides. Even Benedict Cumberbatch returning as Doctor Strange in his small role is a delight as well, explaining how that scene from his movie works in this.
With this movie’s renewed sense of fun, the action sequences definitely showcase this. They are bountiful and plenty and don’t become boring or break up the pacing at all, unlike how some modern-day action schlock do this, especially ones that came out this year (looking at YOU, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Transformers: The Last Knight). The use of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin is more than fitting here for some of them, not just something that was simply used for the trailer, and giving an idea of what to expect from this movie as it goes on, which is just simply awesomeness the whole time. In fact a lot of the music is just cool in a lot of moments throughout the movie. Not to mention there are some cool moments in which Thor gets to live up to the name “God of Thunder” in more ways than one.
If there’s anything bad I can say about the movie, it might just be some of the effects. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not all bad, really they’re not. In fact, a lot of these effects help make this movie so fantastical and amazing to watch, and Waititi did say he was inspired by Thor co-creator Jack Kirby’s art for this movie and it more than shows, with all the vibrant and striking colors just oozing with a psychedelic, rock’n’rollin, sci-fi/fantasy atmosphere. It’s just sometimes I can’t help but be distracted at times by how fake certain effects are, be it green screen or CGI, and how they kinda take me out of the movie a bit. I did see this on IMAX, so that might’ve affected the experience. Maybe this kind of movie doesn’t necessarily work in that format? Idk.
Both the people that worked on this movie and critics are saying that this movie is to the Thor movies what Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to the Captain America movies, and I can’t help but agree with that. While what came before was alright, the next installment needed something in order to take things to the next level and be more than just simply “entertaining”. This movie definitely provided that, with a sense of fun, excitement, and humor the series despeartely needed in order to stand among the rest of the MCU films and other comic book movies that people will hopefully talk about for times to come. It’s more like a new, fresh start for the character and the series here. And based on what I’ve seen from it and Waitit’s desire to do more with Thor, I hope there can be more like this in the future, both for Thor and maybe other MCU movies, and maybe even other comic book movies, depending on what they are and how they’re done.
Until then, we just have to face the Ragnarok in this movie. And much like riding into Valhalla, it is GLORIOUS 🙂 .