Thor: Ragnarok- The God of Thunder Stuns and Impresses

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Cate Blanchett, and Taika Waititi

IMDb: 8.2 of 42,000+

Plot:

After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Thor goes in search of the infinity stones. What he finds is a personal crisis that strikes much closer to home than he ever imagined.

Opening Thoughts:

It may come to a shock to many, but I like the previous two Thor movies. (Perfect they were not!) However, Thor could be so much more than what we had seen. He was somewhat stale by comparison to other heroes. Taika Waititi has produced several very high-quality films (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy) that didn’t get much attention in the United States (except cinephiles). If anyone could make Thor into a more interesting character, this guy and his crew could do it. Thankfully, mission accomplished!

What I Didn’t Like

Almost no film is perfection, and this is no exception.  The film has the issue which all Marvel films have, it has a lot of loose ends to tie up before it can expand on its personal story.  There has been a lot of things going on in the Marvel Universe and to Thor offscreen in the last couple of years. This film looks to tie it all in together making the first act a bit awkward in pace and tone.  I was getting very nervous I was watching a bust (at least for me).

Much like Thor: The Dark World (2013), this film does have an issue with humor and tone.  Especially early on, there were serious situations happening, and they were quickly undermined by the humor. It was offsetting, and I was worried we were looking at another film like its predecessor.  The first act falls very flat and mismatched with its pacing and tone. (I must note that this movie overall uses humor infinitely better than Thor: The Dark World.)

The film poorly handled one thing that I can’t mention (Spoilers). There was an opening to a much more emotionally investing scene, and they didn’t deliver in the ability they could have. It could have grabbed the audience and really drawn them into the movie, but it was not to be. Missed opportunity.

There are cut scenes that feel too jagged, too abrupt. It was jarring a few times and removed me from the film.

What I Did Like

As I mentioned above, I love the work of Taika Waititi, and his direction was very evident in this film.  While it took some adjusting, the pace, tone, and humor develop into his unique brand. He may start out rough (perhaps contractually obligated), but it builds to a brilliant climax, and arguably original conclusion.

Everything about this movie had a different feel to it than previous Marvel films. The colors, the clothes, the cast.  While I enjoy all of these films, I was really looking for a change of style, and this film delivered.

Chances are if you are up to date in the Marvel Universe, you know who appears in the film. If you are not and are sensitive to spoilers. (Be warned! Minor spoilers ahead.)

The first act (as wonky as it is) is stolen by Doctor Strange. He has a small role, but his powers and awesomeness were on full display. For anyone who missed out on Doctor Strange, this gives you a decent introduction and some great interaction.

The Hulk was also amazing in this movie. Far more detailed than ever before, and I loved the dynamics between him and Thor throughout this film. Hulk may not be crafting his Magnum Opus anytime soon, but he is more complicated than many have given him credit for previously.

The movie is filled with grand performances.  If you dislike the Marvel style of casting and how the characters work, then you will continue to be disappointed. However, if you are like me, you will have a good time with this film.

We have the amazing work of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkin, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Mark Ruffalo all in returning roles. They have mastered these characters and play them well.  The addition of Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie was excellent. A troubled, yet badass hero.

Karl Urban brings a solid performance as Skurge, a lackey for Hela who winds up having a few sweet moments.

As for the big baddie herself, Cate Blanchett does a marvelous job bringing  Hela, the goddess of death to life (Ironic, I know).  Marvel doesn’t often do villains right, but when I can understand their ideology even if I disagree with it. I can appreciate the villain far more. I feel that Hela had a lot of backstory to cover  (probably could make a movie or two out of it alone) and the film summarizes well her past and her personality.  She is certainly villainous and cruel, but often it is reactive to a situation. (I like a villain with purpose.)

Jeff Goldblum plays a quirky and maniacal ruler, the Grandmaster. Together with Waititi himself voicing a secondary character, Korg, they provide much of the comic relief in this film.

Finally, this film does use humor a lot, and I can see that throwing off some people. However, when you have a movie that is diving into darker territory (and you don’t want to get that brooding and sad vibe to your film), it makes perfect sense to inject humor. Marvel has made clear, its goal is to bring us above-average to the great comic book inspired movies that are fun (escapism). Yes, we can discuss philosophy and ethics in the work, but not at the expense of fun. This film listens to that formula and is among their most original films to date.

The Conclusion:

Thor: Ragnarok is impressive but still very flawed. While it starts slow and has trouble with its tone at times, it builds into something beautiful. It gets darker than other Marvel films, but doesn’t go over the edge and allows itself to embrace fun.  This film shows everyone that the Marvel machine looks almost unstoppable. With talented directors at the helm and an ever-growing diversity in the cast, Marvel is cementing its place in the hearts and minds of many moviegoers for years to come. (Much the chagrin of everyone else.)

With this ladder, I have to watch the film a few more times before finding its rightful place. However, it is certainly the finest Thor movie in my book.

The Ladder:

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor (2011)

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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