Thor: Ragnarok Review

Not that this is all that shock­ing, but 2017 is look­ing pretty solid for Mar­vel Stu­dios, with the suc­cess of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing”, re­spec­tively. Now, we have the third Mar­vel film to come out this year and the 17th film set in the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse (MCU), a uni­verse that’s filled with mem­o­rable movies in the comic book genre. Can the re­turn of the mighty God of Thun­der in “Thor: Rag­narok” live up to the hype?

Impris­oned on the other side of the uni­verse, the mighty Thor finds him­self in a deadly glad­i­a­to­r­ial con­test that pits him against the Hulk, his for­mer ally and fel­low Avenger. Thor’s quest for sur­vival leads him in a race against time to pre­vent the all-pow­er­ful Hela from de­stroy­ing his home world and the As­gar­dian civ­i­liza­tion.

Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

While I’m the type of per­son who gets ex­cited about a new MCU movie, I was also hes­i­tant to go into “Thor: Rag­narok.” Why’s that? Thor is known as the Avenger that’s fairly dif­fer­ent from the rest. Some con­sider the “Thor” films to be the weak­est in the en­tire MCU. The first film, “Thor,” was­n’t all that bad, mostly be­cause of Ken­neth Branagh’s ap­proach to the source ma­te­r­ial: mak­ing it a fish-out-of-wa­ter type story. But the 2013 se­quel “Thor: The Dark World” does­n’t hold up, and is known as be­ing a bland fol­low-up. But if the fran­chise is need of a boost, leave it to the third movie to fi­nally make it work. “Thor: Rag­narok” is a blast from start to fin­ish.

Taiki Wait­iti was ul­ti­mately the best choice to di­rect this film, as he’s an­other of these di­rec­tors who comes from a com­edy back­ground. He pre­vi­ously di­rected “What We Do in the Shad­ows” and the un­der­rated “Hunt for the Wilder­peo­ple” (highly rec­om­mend). I was ex­cited to see what he could bring into a comic book movie, and he nailed it. You can clearly tell that this is a Wait­iti movie. It shows off that “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe, mixed with an ‘80s retro style. This re­ally feels like it could’ve come out in the ‘80s. It’s such a col­or­ful film, set solely on the planet Sakaar, and with spec­tac­u­lar pro­duc­tion de­sign. The en­tire film felt so dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous “Thor” films and even the other MCU films, but, thank­fully, it does­n’t be­come a par­ody of it­self.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor still brings his all, prov­ing he has truly be­come this char­ac­ter. This is the in­stall­ment that truly dis­cov­ered what re­ally makes him the God of Thun­der. He does­n’t even have his ham­mer, Mjol­nir, for a large ma­jor­ity of the film, and that does play on some­thing stronger later on. Looks like the writ­ers fi­nally fig­ured out who Thor truly is, as with each film he’s been “in progress” in a lot of ways. This film shows a well-mean­ing re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther Odin (An­thony Hop­kins) and his brother Loki (Tom Hid­dle­ston, as al­ways, mis­chie­vously great). And it’s been known that Thor can be a goofy char­ac­ter some­times, and it shows in here. Hemsworth proves that he’s not too bad at com­edy, as seen be­fore in the “Ghost­busters” re­boot.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The ac­tion is very well-han­dled and ex­cit­ing. The best scene is the glad­i­a­tor match be­tween Thor and Hulk. Both the ac­tion and hu­mor are pretty good, set­ting a con­sis­tent tone through­out.

The score, by Mark Moth­ers­baugh, a mas­ter of new wave synth mu­sic, was ex­cel­lent, giv­ing elec­tric fla­vor to the mu­sic. By the way, if your movie has a Led Zep­pelin song in it, par­tic­u­larly “Im­mi­grant Song” (used well in the first teaser), then you got me, man.

Hon­estly, it feels great to see Mark Ruf­falo re­turn as Bruce Ban­ner/​Hulk, and I like what they did with his char­ac­ter in this in­stall­ment, mak­ing “Thor: Rag­narok” my fa­vorite film in­volv­ing him. This has some el­e­ments of the “Planet Hulk” sto­ry­line that I think fans will be pleased with. Just like Thor, we haven’t seen Hulk since “Avengers: Age of Ul­tron,” and it re­ally makes you won­der what hap­pened to him at the end of the film. Sur­pris­ingly enough, he’s given some depth, in a way that’s in­ter­est­ing and has­n’t been seen be­fore. The ca­ma­raderie be­tween him and Thor makes for a fan­tas­tic team, mak­ing this feel like a buddy road trip com­edy.

Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Tessa Thomp­son (“Creed”) as Valkyrie was such a big stand­out. She’s a strong bounty hunter, a heavy drinker and not one to fight with. Will she be a fu­ture love in­ter­est for Thor? It’s quite pos­si­ble. She’d be a bet­ter love in­ter­est than Jane Fos­ter, if you asked me. She was awe­some in all the scenes she’s in. Be­sides her, the char­ac­ter of Korg (voiced and mo­tion-cap­tured by Wait­iti him­self), a soft-spo­ken alien made out of rocks, is also an­other scene stealer.

Jeff Gold­blum as the Grand­mas­ter, ruler of Sakaar, was noth­ing but de­light­ful. He looks to be hav­ing a great time with this role. At this point, it re­ally does­n’t mat­ter what type of char­ac­ter Gold­blum is play­ing, as long as he’s ba­si­cally be­ing him­self, or “Gold­b­lum­ing,” in a scene, that’s worth the price of ad­mis­sion (ex­cept “In­de­pen­dence Day: Resur­gence”).

Prob­a­bly one of the as­pects that I was very wor­ried about go­ing in was how funny this was go­ing to be. Judg­ing by the pre­vi­ous two films, when it comes down to com­edy, the “Thor” fran­chise is­n’t the best, es­pe­cially when it’s on Earth in­volv­ing Kat Den­nings. Luck­ily, this was one of the fun­ni­est Mar­vel films by far. From what I heard, some of the film was im­pro­vised, and Wait­iti per­fectly han­dles the hu­mor. There were tons of mo­ments that led to hi­lar­ity.

This leads me to a com­plaint I’ve had over the past few months: Why are some peo­ple cool the hu­mor in this, but every­body com­plained about “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” for hav­ing the same amount of hu­mor? Is it okay for “Thor: Rag­narok” to be con­sid­ered a straight-up com­edy, while the other gets ridiculed for be­ing the same thing? Peo­ple, make up your minds! Mar­vel is known for hav­ing com­edy in some of its movies, so this should­n’t be a prob­lem.

As for flaws I en­coun­tered with the film, while Cate Blanchett was ex­cel­lent in her role as Hela, she was kind of a weak vil­lain. I per­son­ally did­n’t find her that men­ac­ing af­ter her in­tro­duc­tion. The film also did run a lit­tle too long, as the mid­dle dragged. And al­though it has a lot of funny jokes, some don’t quite land, and some scenes could’ve done with­out some­thing funny hap­pen­ing in the mid­dle of a se­ri­ous mo­ment.

Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

In the end, “fun” is the eas­i­est way to de­scribe “Thor: Rag­narok.” It sur­passed all ex­pec­ta­tions. I would­n’t say it’s the best MCU movie out there, but I do be­lieve that it’s def­i­nitely the best film in the “Thor” fran­chise. If Wait­iti was given the op­por­tu­nity to helm an­other MCU film, that would be per­fect, be­cause his style is ab­solutely ab­sorb­ing. It’s hi­lar­i­ous when ap­pro­pri­ate, the story is en­gag­ing and it’s sat­is­fy­ing to see Thor in a more en­ter­tain­ing way.

Thor: Rag­narok”’s rad­i­cal take on the fran­chise is a win with this fun and ad­ven­tur­ous in­stall­ment while stand­ing out as be­ing to­tally dif­fer­ent in the MCU thus far.

Grade: B+

 

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