Directed by Taika Watiti
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson and Mark Ruffalo
If you go into an MCU film expecting a serious take on super heroes anymore you’re wasting your time.
Disney and Marvel seems pretty content to stick with the tried and true formula of action comedy blockbuster and for what it’s worth most all these films are at worst watchable.
(Most. Not all…)
“Thor: Ragnarok” falls on the sharper end of the shallow spectrum that the MCU has established and for the most part it’s a pretty damn funny and entertaining movie, even if it’s not terribly deep.
Considering the bar the previous two Thor entries set, new director Taika Watiti didn’t have much to surpass here but the third installment in this so-so series is a tremendous improvement and one of the better popcorn flicks of the year.
(Just leave your brain at the theater door.)
“Thor: Ragnarok” takes place, presumably, during the events of “Civil War” where Thor feels he has put an end to his nightmarish visions of the fall of Asgard by taking the crown of Surtur to end the prophecy of Ragnarok. As he returns to Asgrad he, of course, discovers that his brother has hidden their father Odin on Earth and they return to discover that he’s about to pass away (Why? Never explained). Before his death Odin tells his sons that once he leaves his control over the Goddess of Death, their banished sister, Hela will unravel and she will come to takeover Asgard. She of course returns and proves to be too powerful for them and sends them careening through space and time. Now Thor must find a way back home to stop Hela before it’s too late.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is basically what fans like myself expected “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” to be more like earlier this year. It’s delightfully weird, stylish and over the top and the jokes, pop culture references and musical choices really work much better in this movie. It just doesn’t feel forced or like it’s trying too hard to be funny in here and it’s part of why “Ragnarok” works and “Guardians” didn’t.
(Me whenever I think about “Guardians” these days…)
I stopped caring, though, a long time ago if I was ever going to get a truly serious take on these Marvel characters (especially Thor) and have more or less excepted that whatever MCU film I walk into is going to be mostly just two hours of big dumb entertainment.
(With a couple exceptions of course.)
“Thor: Ragnarok” seems to understand this expectation, as it abandons all seriousness pretty much from the opening line on and goes almost completely full cheese and camp and for the most part it works. Generally speaking films suck if they try to be two things at once. The previous Thor movies’ problem is that they couldn’t decide between being campy and being serious at times and this movie definitely opts for the former and the result is a much sharper film than the previous entries.
“Ragnarok” has a ton of jokes and the actors involved ham it up nicely between Hemsworth’s big dumb jock version of Thor playing off the always delightful Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Karl Urban as Skurge playing a dim-witted Asgardian grunt, and Tessa Thompson as a believable, alcoholic warrior woman in Valkyrie (also fuck you if you don’t like that’s she’s black now). And of course it’s fun to watch Mark Ruffalo’s fish out of water Bruce Banner and his now fully speaking Hulk trade insults with Thor.
Cate Blanchett steals the show, however, as a Hela as she appears to be having a blast hamming it up as this character in every scene she’s in. She’s delightfully wicked and fun to watch as each scene she’s in oozes with cheese but in a much more palatable way than most of the MCU’s previous villains.
Unfortunately she’s allotted a criminally tiny amount of screen time and viewers like myself are left a tad bit blueballed.
There’s not much else to say about the movie otherwise here, unfortunately, as there’s a thin layer of plot over all this humor and action sequences that doesn’t need much examination. The visuals are again fun and cartoonish, like “Guardians,” and the action scenes are enjoyable of course but just like any other MCU film if you’re going into these movies expecting any depth you’re going to be disappointed.
They do a little bit of this in parts of the movie, expanding a bit on Thor and Loki’s complicated relationship, talking about themes of family through Odin’s secrets but the film doesn’t go terribly far with this, if at all. Hell, this is the first time we’ve seen Hulk in two years and he left because he felt he was a danger to Earth but the film doesn’t even touch on this really. There’s missed opportunities for some character development all around here and I want to say that’s disappointing but that’s really par for the course for this franchise.
(”Par for the course? Sounds like a winning formula to us!” It is…)
But again, what do you expect? It’s an MCU film and as long as you’re just looking for some cheap escapism you’ll get what you want here.
It’s unfortunate, of course, that the MCU (for the most part) won’t deviate from this money making formula (and let’s be real, why would they?) but for what its worth at least this movie wasn’t actively irritating or just flat dumb like “Guardians.”
It’s a well-executed, funny, entertaining, action-packed blockbuster that checks all the right boxes for family friendly, Friday night at the movie theaters escapism and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just, again, leave your brain at the theater door, buy yourself a big ol’ tub of popcorn, maybe sneak in a couple of cold ones with da bois, and enjoy yourself for two hours. I mean, who goes to see a blockbuster to find meaning anymore, anyways?
3.5 out of 5
But seriously if we can make ONE not ordinary super hero film going forward in this franchise let it be this one. #HYPE!