Thor: Ragnarok, 2017.
Directed by Taika Waititi.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Taika Waititi, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, Clancy Brown, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Rachel House, Tadanobu Asano, Luke Hemsworth, Taylor Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Charlotte Nicdao, and Matt Damon.
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
As soon as the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok dropped, Marvel fans everywhere knew that the God of Thunder’s third outing was going to be something different. Helmed by Taika Waititi who at this point was best known for mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows and comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople; Ragnarok is the funniest Marvel film by a long way. After Thor: The Dark World played it safe (and for me slightly dull), Ragnarok is the breath of fresh air that he needed.
After the Goddess of Death Hela (Blanchett) is unleashed on Asgard, Thor winds up imprisoned on a planet and stuck in a gladiator style battle where he’s up against The Hulk (Ruffalo). What ensues is a buddy team movie with newbie Valkyrie (Thompson) and Loki (Hiddleston) joining Thor and Hulk on a mission to save Asgard.
There is so much to love about Ragnarok. From the 80’s vibe and music through to Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric Grand Master of the gladiator contest, to jokes about Point Break and Valkyrie kicking so much arse and being awesome; there is something for everyone. Whilst Hemsworth has had a few moments of comedy in his other performances, it’s nothing compared to what we have here. He’s a talented comedic actor and anyone who doesn’t laugh at his childhood story of how Loki tricked him by pretending to be a snake, then I firmly believe you have no sense of humour. Ragnarok is also visually stunning with exceptional cinematography and it’s great to see Marvel taking a risk with Waititi who on the surface is a left field choice for a big budget action movie. While Marvel do have a tight creative leash, it does seem that if a director is willing to play ball with them, they will support that person’s vision.
But there can be too much of a good thing. With all the comedy going on a lot of the emotional heft of the story doesn’t have much impact. Blanchett as Hela is a serviceable villain and she seems to be chewing the scenery with relish but there isn’t much substance there; a common issue with almost all of the MCU. A few familiar faces don’t make it to the end of the movie but their deaths have little emotional impact because there are too many jokes flying around.
Whilst Ragnarok has flaws, the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s hilarious and it builds on Thor, Hulk and Loki’s characters in particular. The introduction of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is fantastic and she provides a much-needed strong female character in the absence of Lady Sif. Ragnarok is a step in the right direction for the MCU. Criticism of recycled plots is justified; but by taking a chance on Waititi they’ve shown that they are willing to take risks and deliver a different type of action film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★