Film Review – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe returns to the stars for another adventure with the god of thunder himself. Before Marvel gears up for Avengers: Infinty War next year, there’s still some loose ends to clean up in the cosmos, and that’s exactly where Thor: Ragnarok comes into the picture. The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Taika Waititi
Written By: Eric Pearson
Starring: (*deep breath*) Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Taika Waititi, and Jeff Goldblum (*wheezes*)
The evil Hela (Blanchett) returns to Asgard to reclaim it in her own image. But, after a squirmish with the goddess of death leaves Thor (Hemsworth) on a planet all the way across the universe (and without his beloved hammer), he must battle his long lost companion, the Incredible Hulk (Ruffalo), in a gladiatorial setting. However, if he wants to stop Hela and reclaim Asgard, he’ll need a little help from some friends both old and new.
Thor: Ragnarok is following a similar pattern to other recent MCU films by hiring a lesser known director to man the project. While Taika Waititi certainly has grown a following after directing What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he still isn’t exactly a household name. Since both Marvel and Disney are notorious for being cheap, it’s fairly obvious that they go after lesser known talents in order to maximize profits on their features, but that’s not to say that there hasn’t been some great benefits to the MCU because of these new additions.
In the early stages of the MCU, Marvel mostly favored “blue chip” directors such as Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, and Joss Whedon. Not that these gentlemen didn’t do a fine job, but, for a moment, the MCU became a tad stale, amounting to very similar films in tone and feel.
However, once Kevin Feige firmly became the auteur of the universe, these smaller directors have since added very different touches to these films. Since the start of Phase 3 of this ever growing universe, we’ve hit a golden age of sorts. Every film has done even better with critics than before (as if we thought that was even possible). Although every Marvel movie adheres to a similar outline, they’ve taken way more chances with tone and structure from these different directors that come from different backgrounds.
As we now arrive at the 17th film in the MCU, the state of this movie universe couldn’t be in better shape.
Thor: Ragnarok is Super, Super Weird
As for the movie itself, it can be be described as bonkers. Gone are the Shakespearean comparisons that Thor has in previous iterations. Now, we have a colorful, crazy world full on insane possibilities. With all of this in mind, it’s clear that Taika Waititi is the star of this movie.
Waititi’s imprint is all over this film, offering up his signature brand of humor and whimsical nature in the best way possible. Waititi has said himself that about 80% of this film was improvised, so he must receive some serious praise for keeping the movie on the rails. Under his hand, Thor: Ragnarok may be the funniest MCU movie to date. Waititi himself plays a CGI character that may have you falling out of your seat from laughter. I know I did.
Everything about Thor: Ragnarok is just pure lunacy. You know your movie is crazy when a giant, fire monster is the D-plot of the movie. If I could put my finger on how best to describe this movie, it would mostly likely be a cross between Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and a stand-up special. It’s a unique, off-the-wall movie that somehow manages to keep itself somewhat in check to work out in the end.
Let’s be honest, the first two Thor films are amomg many people’s least favorite MCU films. For a third go-around to be successful, the character needed a facelift. Waititi has brought something to Thor (and the MCU) that we just haven’t seen before. There’s nothing that’s off limits, making the entire endeavor very refreshing.
Every Actor Chews the Scenery in the Best Way Possible
In one of these sections, I would normally delve into which actor stole the show. But, in this situation, that’ll be difficult to do. There isn’t exactly a stand-out character because literally EVERY character stands out in some fashion.
Thor: Ragnarok just has a bevy or riches at its disposal. Honestly it’s pretty unfair that such a large amount of attractive people are on one screen. I mean, just look at that:
I think I might have a crush on the entire Thor: Ragnarok cast.
But in all seriousness, having each character inject some type of fun somewhere into the plot makes everything that much more enjoyable. Everyone brings a little something different to the comedy, action, and every other bit of the film. Even when you follow a secondary character, the entertainment value stays at a super high level. Everyone has their quirks, making the film a blast to behold.
If you didn’t know the names of actors like Tessa Thompson before seeing the film, get ready for some magic.
Still Somewhat of a Slave to that Patented Marvel Formula
That being said, Thor: Ragnarok can’t quite help but fall into the same traps as other Marvel films. There’s a ton that this movie has to handle. Thor has to journey to a far off planet to become a gladiator, Hela tries to destroy Asgard, Odin must be found, and there’s a fire monster in there somewhere. With so many elements involved, some of the more important bits gets lost in the shuffle.
Cate Blanchett is wonderful as Hela, and you can tell that she’s enjoying the role of a megalomaniac. But, with many of the main characters off on the other side of the universe, her part of the story becomes largely forgotten for an extended period of time within the film. You get caught up in the craziness of Jeff Goldblum as an eccentric weirdo or the interplay between Thor and Hulk that you totally forget that some entity is trying to smash Asgard to pieces.
You’ll see this said is practically every review out there, but Thor: Ragnarok just good ol’ fashion fun. It embraces its sillier intricacies, allowing the audience to embark on a self-referential, funny ride through the cosmos. You’re eyes might even gloss over from the color-overload that’s in store for you.
Thor: Ragnarok is super weird and continues the Marvel hot streak. It might still be a slave to the usual Marvel formula, but you can’t help but crack a smile while watching it. It gets an A-.
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