Thor: Ragnarok Review
Even though the humor is misplaced at times, Marvel finally uses the right mash of characters (mostly the Hulk) to make the third Thor film a pleasurable experience.
Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best film in its series. I know I know, that’s not saying much but this movie will make you wonder why Thor wasn’t written like this from the start. Throughout the film you can see Thor’s previous interactions with “mere mortals” has bestowed him a personality. The best comparison I can make is Black Widow. She was fine all the way up to the first Avengers film. But Captain America: Winter Solider improved the character immensely with whit and humor.
Two years have passed since Avengers: Age of Ultron. In that time span, Thor has failed to find any of the Infinity Stones and is now trying to prevent the destruction of Asgard by fighting the demon Surtur. The encounter shows Thor has now gained a Tony Stark like whit. He seems to enjoy using it as much as his hammer. Just like that, Thor has a personality.
After discovering Odin is no longer on Asgard he returns home to learn Loki has cast out their father and is masquerading as him. Thor puts that to an end and against Loki’s wishes, Thor “convinces” his nemesis to help find him. This leads them to New York, and an entertaining interaction with Doctor Strange. Bringing Strange in was wise move for the MCU. The scene shows how much he’s grown and keeps him fresh in people’s mind for the next Avengers film. I read a review giving his appearance the backhanded compliment of being enjoyable, but forgettable. Huh? Well for 1, Strange is only in the movie for few minutes and 2, IT’S NOT HIS MOVIE! I swear some people simply refuse to enjoy things.
My first gripe comes when Thor and Loki find Odin. The scene was aiming to be very emotional but misses the mark a little. It seemed rushed with a Return of the Jedi like vibe. I would have liked to have known more about what was going on with Odin; I guess I’m greedy like that.
We are given a good villain in Hela (Cate Blanchett). She’s a formidable antagonist physically and verbally who smacks the two brothers down like someone would do to a naughty dog with a wad of newspaper. The battle sends Thor and Loki to the planet Sakaar, where the fun truly begins.
Sakaar is a barbaric society ruled by the humorous megalomaniac Grandmaster played by Jeff Goldblum. His character is a sharp contrast to the brutal planet, and yet it somehow works. Goldblum’s witty personality is icing on the cake, but it’s obvious the Hulk and Valkyrie are the meat and potatoes of the planet. The only other Sakaar character worth mentioning is Korg. A lighthearted massive rock creature whose sole purpose is to make you laugh. The problem is he does this too much. It got to the point where I thought he was auditioning for Guardians of the Galaxy.
I loved how the Hulk is portrayed in this movie. Everything he says will have you wanting him to talk more. His “buddy cop” verbal spats with Thor are easily some of the best parts of the movie. The arena battle between him and Thor gave me a nerdgasm. Their chemistry is great throughout; with Thor and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner surprisingly being solid as well. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) plays the “Han Solo” part well, but I felt at times her hard drinking lifestyle was overkill. I don’t even think Jessica Jones drinks as much as her. Valkyrie is a nice addition but I felt her character arc needed to be developed more. With the rising popularity of Wonder Woman I’m surprised it wasn’t given more screen time.
The pacing which brings Thor, the Hulk, Valkyrie, and Loki together never dragged on. Tom Hiddleston was born to play Loki. He’s the MCU’s best villain who seems to be able to interact well with anyone. The main problem with Thor: Ragnarok is the story tries to overlook the severity of what’s on the line with the overuse of humor. Whenever the movie had a chance to get really dark, something funny would be done or said to ruin the chance of getting what’s at stake across firmly. These lighthearted scenes were needed in Thor 1 and 2 but not so much here. You’ll get a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe which is fine, but characters like the soft spoken Korg seem out of place. Don’t get me wrong he’s hilarious, but he was major reason the film wasn’t as dark as it should’ve been. There’s a couple of times at the end of the movie where Korg goes for the joke, which seems completely out of place considering what is happening. Sometimes less is more.
Thor: Ragnarok is a fun, witty, and sometimes goofy experience augmented by the chemistry of Thor and the Hulk. If you’ve seen previous MCU movies, you’ll appreciate the callbacks this film has. We are finally blessed with a Thor visual effects smorgasbord worthy of the God of Thunder title. The action scenes are great, the music is on point, and the witty banter between the characters is some of the best ever in any Marvel movie. The Thor character is written in a way that makes you interested in his first meeting with the Guardians of the Galaxy in Avengers: Infinity War. Thor: Ragnarok was a pleasant surprise. My personal preference is less comedy in these kind of plots but you’ll be entertained throughout the film. Plus, nerds like myself get a nice tease for Avengers 3.