Quick Hit: Probably one of the first movies that seems to have actually read a more recent comic of Thor.
For the past few Thor movies within the MCU, we were treated to a wonderful interpretation of a god on Earth. It’s something that Chris Hemsworth excelled at – he has the right gravitas within his voice, the right look, and the right delivery of his lines. But something was missing – mainly the humor that has nearly always accompanied Thor within the comics. The MCU had done a decent job surrounding him with a humorous cast, but rarely allowed him to completely flex his comedic muscles.
Taika Waititi turns that concept on its head, allowing both side characters and the main character to be extremely funny. This, in turn, creates a movie that is all together a 180 degree turn from the mess that was Thor: The Dark World, but also continues to allow some of the weaknesses of the Marvel universe to continue to abound – namely, wasted characters and wasted villains.
So because of this 180 degree turn, I’m going to follow suit with my post – I’m going to talk about the negatives first, followed by the positives.
Is it possible for a movie to be too funny, or too slapstick? Not really, but when the tone of the previous movies, and the inevitable final showdown is fairly dark, the slapstick humor robs it of any gravity. It’s a tough criticism, but it’s a valid one – one that the MCU has started to really suffer from in general. While I really enjoy the buddy team up of Hulk and Thor, I also think that some of the best scenes (and the ones that really bind them together) are the ones where they are obviously shown connecting because they’re outsiders. It’s this, and scenes exploring Valkyrie’s past that help keep the jokes grounded, but they’re few and far between. Side Note I just thought of - that Valkyrie scene was effing beautiful. More please.
Another issue that I had was some severely underused characters. You have Jeff Goldblum… and you’re going to let him just languish on the sidelines? You have Cate freaking Blanchett, the winner of two Supporting Actress Oscars, and you’re going to shove her in some CGI costume and let her talk to herself in long monologues the whole time? Don’t get me wrong – I actually liked Hela as a character and thought her delivery was viciously poisonous – but there are large portions of the story where she doesn’t even matter. One of the reasons why I think The Dark Knight is one of the best superhero stories of all time is because the first character that we really spend time with is The Joker. We consistently move to see what he’s doing. It’s this parallel journey that makes the movie so good. When we only see Hela when she’s being, well, hellacious, it’s cool, but gives her very little depth.
Now, on to the good stuff, shall we? Marvel hit on something when they allowed James Gunn to be himself when he put together Guardians of the Galaxy and Vol. 2. It’s that those are definitely James Gunn movies. In the same quirky way, this movie is a Taika Waititi movie. It’s an offbeat comedy that’s not afraid to make jokes that may be a bit off-color. It’s one that’s going to have at least one (in this case two) awesome soundtrack moment. And it’s one that is going to build up characters to have big moments.
Thor: Ragnarok does all these things. And the movie is a great ride. It’s laugh out loud funny, and Hemsworth carries a lot of the jokes, often at the expense of his character. It’s worth it, because it’s diving into what makes Thor who he is – desperate always to be loved by all, even if he doesn’t understand what’s driving him to do so. One of the deeper thoughts I had about Thor was that it was showing that all the different children of Odin had their own version of Daddy issues. Hela acts out and “goes to jail”, so to speak, Thor is the goody-goody that listens to everything Daddy tells him to do, and Loki is the misfit who just wanted Daddy to love him more. Ragnarok explores each of these, while in turn coming back to one of the most important lessons anyone can learn – you are who you are, and you might as well accept it.
I also liked the introduction of side characters that, ya know, stick around and do things. You’ve got Korg, the rock monster (suspiciously looking very different then when we saw them in the first movie). You’ve got Valkyrie, who’ve I have already briefly talked about. But talk about a huge misstep with just not having enough Goldblum. Delivering lines as only he can, (the melting scene OMG) he is only too brief, and instead we’re focusing on his aids too much. #moreGoldblum please.
So while I can’t say that it’s the best of the MCU, I will say that it’s a HUGE step forward for the Thor franchise. I’m excited to see more fallout from this movie in Infinity War. Until then my friends, take this one as a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"