To close 2017, Marvel decided to release the closing of the Thor trilogy. Up to this point, it has been difficult to actually care about Thor the character or his series of movies. Thor has a rich and interesting lore, certainly. Norse gods always have great tales to tell. Thor’s movies however have never felt anything more than perfunctory. An obligation for the overall meta-narrative to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, otherwise not to be revisited out of pure enjoyment. That’s all changed today, as director Taika Waititi (Two Cars, One Night, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) has delivered the best Thor movie! A movie worth revisiting for the pure enjoyment of it!
Thor: Ragnarok starts off promisingly right from the start by showing that the movie will do what the last one should have done, ignore earth almost entirely! Ragnarok goes out to explore the cosmic weirdness of the MCU offered by the lore from the comics. More alien species are shown, more worlds, Asgard’s own history! A new twist on old characters like Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Heimdall (Idris Elba)! New characters like Surtur (motion-captured by Waititi, vocally performed by Clancy Brown), Korg (motion and vocal performed by Waititi), The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban)! The only time we go to earth is because it is required in order to resolve issues left over from the The Dark World and it only lasts 15 minutes with extended comedic sequence involving Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).
This movie is straight-up an action-comedy, and it only benefits all the more from it! It’s essentially the route you must go when making a movie as weird and “out there” as this. Necessary for this is to adapt Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) personality to this. Reviews have described Thor as almost a rebooted version of what we’ve seen before but this really is not the case. Thor cracks more jokes than he used to in the previous movies, but he is still the overall stoic, serious warrior we’ve known from previous movies. The difference is that the structure of Ragnarok allows more opportunity for the humor to flow organically.
The year has been well for MCU villains on the big screen. Ego (Kurt Russell) was a charismatic, suave, charmer simply by letting Kurt Russell be Kurt Russell and infect the movie with his charisma. Vulture (Michael Keaton) was terrifying without trying to be and he was just a man who wanted to sell guns and get his big score rather than destroy Manhattan. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is, as you probably gathered from her name, the goddess of death. Hela’s a pretty good villain. To be clear, she is much better than almost every previous MCU villain (as seen in the movies), I’ve long criticised the MCU for having weak villains, but Hela’s not as compelling as Ego or Vulture. She’s still better than Surtur, who functions as little more than a plot device. I do hope we get to see more of Surtur in future movies however.
The Planet Hulk material imported to this movie works quite well surprisingly. Seeing planet Sakaar, a junk dumping world with Roman gladiator fights as ruled by an insane Jeff Goldblum was a blast! The Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo, voiced by Lou Ferrigno) appearance is more than we’ve seen before. Hulk was the reliable wrecking ball needed to win a fight in the Avengers movies. Rest assured he still fills that role very well here, but there’s more character to the Hulk than a rampaging bigfoot.
I haven’t really talked about the movie as much as I have characters and what works in the movie. Ragnarok is an action-comedy movie, and to talk so much about it would be spoiler-laden and a ruining of some very good jokes. The best comparison I can provide outside of the MCU filmography is the 2003 Teen Titans show created by Glen Murakami, finding a near-perfect balance of action and comedy. Thor: Ragnarok is a fun ride at the movies and undoubtedly the best of the Thor movies to date. I absolutely recommend it. Between this and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, I think Taika Waititi has me hooked on New Zealand’s brand of humor!