Thor: Ragnarok

"We know each other! He's a friend from work!"

Thor: Ragnarok will do nothing to silence those who think Marvel movies have a tendency to be more about gags than gravitas. In fact, it is fair to say that this film is essentially two hours of Taika Waititi giving those people the finger.

While the previous Thor films attempted to take Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's colourful take on Norse mythology somewhat seriously (perhaps too much so in The Dark World's case), Waititi is having none of that. Embracing the absurdity of this series wholeheartedly, the New Zealand filmmaker has gifted us with a brilliantly bonkers superhero comedy that bombards its audience unrelentingly with gag after gag, stopping only for the requisite fight scenes or the odd bit of brotherly bonding/bickering between Thor and Loki (the true love story of this series). It's almost as if Kevin Feige wrote Waititi a $180m cheque and told him to go nuts. And go nuts he did.

Taking a page out of Iron Man 3's book, Ragnarok tears its hero down, depriving him of his friends, his hammer, and those luscious golden locks, so that he can learn that true strength comes from within or some such nonsense. As character arcs go it is pretty derivative, but the film manages to pull it off thanks in no small part to the charms of its leading man. This is Chris Hemsworth's fifth time out as the Odinson and he has never looked more comfortable in the role. Waititi takes full advantage of Hemsworth's surprising gift for comedy as well as his sparkling chemistry with Tom Hiddleston (devilishly good as always). The troubled relationship between the brothers has been a key part of the previous movies, but this is the first one where it is unopposed as the central relationship and the film's emotional anchor.


Ragnarok fixes almost everything that didn't work with the first two Thor movies, starting by ditching most of the supporting characters, notably Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, whose absence is explained away with one line and absolutely no fanfare. Thor, like the audience, is sadder about losing his hammer than losing Jane. Instead of a disinterested Portman phoning it in, we have Tessa Thompson as the wonderfully inebriated Valkyrie. Not only is Thompson more game for all this cosmic malarkey than Portman ever was, there is no awkward attempt to force a romance between her character and Thor. Is it possible that Marvel Studios has finally seen the light and will no longer force us to suffer through hopelessly unconvincing love stories in all their movies? I hope so, but I wouldn't put money on it.

Cutting Thor loose from all his Midgard-based allies also has the benefit of saving the film from becoming too Earth-centric. With the exception of some brief trips to New York and Norway, the majority of the action takes place either on Asgard or Sakaar, a junk planet literally at the arse end of the universe where Jack Kirby did all the interior decorating, and ruled over by the flamboyant Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum delivering a performance so deliciously Jeff Goldblumian, too much of it is probably bad for your health). 

It is on Sakaar that Thor runs into (and is forced to fight) his fellow Avenger, the Hulk, now wasting away his days working as a gladiator for the Grandmaster. I'm going to put aside my annoyance at Marvel for denying us a proper film version of Planet Hulk (I mean, who wouldn't want to see Hulk do Gladiator in space?) because of how great the Hulk is in this film. Pairing him up with Thor results in some fantastic odd couple comedy which only gets better when he turns back into Mark Ruffalo in full blown neurotic breakdown mode.

Negatives? There are a few, but none that derailed the film for me. Cate Blanchett is clearly having a lot of fun in the role, but Hela is another in a long depressing line of one dimensional Marvel villains. Karl Urban is also pretty much wasted as her surprisingly cockney lackey, Skurge. Doctor Strange's cameo generates a few giggles, but is pretty much superfluous. And the first quarter rushes through events in order to get Thor and Loki to Sakaar as quickly as possible.


Thunder and Lighting

--Loved Mark Mothersbaugh's synth driven score.

--After seeing how this film dealt with the Warriors Three, it's probably a good thing filming of Blindspot kept Jaimie Alexander from returning as Sif.

--Waititi himself all but steals the whole show as Korg, Thor's fellow gladiator and deliverer of all the film's best lines.

--At one point a bunch of  Asgardian actors perform a play based on the events of The Dark World. Fair to say it was better than the actual film.

Korg: "PISS OFF, GHOST!"

Bruce Banner: "Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days?"
Loki: "It varies from moment to moment."

Thor: "How did you end up here?"
Korg: "Well, I tried to start a revolution, but didn't print enough pamphlets so hardly anyone turned up. Except for my mum and her boyfriend, who I hate."

Grandmaster: "Hey Sparkles, here's the deal: you want to get back to ass-place, ass-berg, wherever you came from..."
Thor: "ASGARD!"

Four out of four luscious golden locks.
--
Mark Greig comes from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow More Mark Greig

6 comments:

Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...

I read that some licensing snafu prevents Marvel from doing a standalone Hulk movie, hence no Planet Hulk. I did like the Thor/Jane romance in the first movie, with plenty of nerdy-girl finally gets the jock satisfaction, but Ragnarok didn't need it. And of course Jane dumped him, probably because he was never around and always off fighting.

Loved this movie from start to finish! There were a couple minor annoyances - why does Hela look more like Loki than Thor? What is in those restraining discs that pure lightning does nothing to dislodge them? How obvious was it that Skurge would turn on Hela? (And where did he hide those guns? Though that moment was awesome.) Why didn't we get more than a few seconds of Hiddleston/Cumberbatch screen time?

But aside from an inferior soundtrack, this movie comes very close to rivaling the awesomeness of the first Guardians of the Galaxy in my mind. And that says a lot.

Anonymous said...

Not that they really followed any real mythology in this one but Hela looked more like Loki than Thor because she is traditionally Loki’s daughter, not Odin’s.

Patryk said...

You know how gladiator episodes of fantasy tv shows always suck? Thor Ragnarok was definately not like any of those episodes. It was hilarious from start to finish.

My favorite funny moment has to be Loki scared shitless after he noticed who's the arena champion. Could... not... stop... laughing. :)

I was wondering if we'd get a guardians of the galaxy cameo, but I think that might have been too much goodness for one movie. So who did capture the Asgardians at the end there? Thanos? I'm 99% sure Loki did take that Tesseract from Odin's vault.

An Honest Fangirl said...

I think I liked this one a lot less than you guys. Don't get me wrong, it was a ton of fun. I enjoyed it.

It was just... too funny. A lot of seriously messed up things happened in this movie, but every single one of them was undercut by a joke or a laugh. It cheapened everything for me. I wanted the movie to take some things just a little bit more seriously.

Also, I wanted less Planet Hulk and more Ragnorak. I feel like Hela could have been much better if she had more screen time.

Anonymous said...

Film was crazy fun but they took it abit too far..By the time Bruce splatted down towards the end i was weary of it. There is an epic film in there but they chose to make it a funny film...and you can't really fault them.
Everything Hulk/Thor/Loki was perfect and i think Valkyrie is Marvel's best new addition for a long time..
There are rumours that Hela might survive and it would be interesting if they follow through with the ''court death'' quote from Thanos in the first Avengers..Taken literally it could be an adaption of Thano's infatuation with the goddess of death in the comics..While Hela isn't actually that Goddess they should adapt it as such.

Harry H. Burgos said...

thanku