Review: Thor: Ragnarok is the best Thor yet but it is still a Thor Movie.
Thor: Ragnarok’s story is centered around Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) having to work together in order to save Asgard from the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett). As the story unfolds, Thor and Loki begin to learn some secrets about their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) which gives them some insight as to why Hela has shown up and is seeking control of their home planet. Thor and Loki join forces with The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) which leads to the creation of the Revengers, as Thor appropriately names their group. Despite a series of obstacles standing in their way, the foursome work together and form a plan to save the people of Asgard and take back Asgard.
In my humble opinion, this has been a weak year for Marvel Studios. I was very disappointed with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 back in May and thought that this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (which I know was considered a Sony release) wasn’t very good either minus an incredible performance by Michael Keaton. I had a lot of hope for Thor: Ragnarok because I love Taika Waititi as a writer, director, and actor. I felt like a man of his talent would be able to bring something fresh and new to the Thor series and sure enough, Taika delivered. Thor: Ragnarok is easily and without any question whatsoever, the best Thor film to date.
With that being said, I always found the Thor films to be the weakest films in the MCU. I think most of the blame is a combination of the poor writing and dark tone of the previous two films. The first two films are very dark and have this incredibly serious tone that just doesn’t work. There are only a handful of light and comedic moments sprinkled throughout courtesy of Kat Dennings’ Darcy and of course, Loki. It is also important to note that both of the previous entries have a ton of cringe-worthy moments due to the poorly written dialogue that is haphazardly delivered by Chris Hemsworth and the rest of the cast.
Waititi’s take on Thor is much different than the previous two Thor films, especially the tone. The film is lighthearted and fun right from the get-go. This sudden change in tone might be a bit jarring because it’s not what audiences have come to expect from these films. While the lighter tone definitely helped the film overall, I did think that having such a light and silly tone made it harder to believe that there was any real danger for these characters. It seemed like Marvel Studios and Waititi were trying to combine the tone of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy but it didn’t fully work. As a result, I feel a lot of the film lacked a sense of danger and suspense.
Another thing to note is the humor. I found that the types of jokes were all over the place. There were certain jokes that were geared toward mature adults like the joke about the Grandmaster having orgies. However, there are a ton of childish jokes like going into an anus in the sky. You can tell that someone at Marvel Studios must have watched the film and told Waititi to add jokes that would appeal to younger audiences so that the film would have more of a mass appeal. Maybe it’s just me being a fan of Waititi’s work but you can sometimes tell where he didn’t have full creative control of what was left in the final cut of the film.
In terms of the performances, Chris Hemsworth’s acting is still a bit weak when compared to most of the cast members in the MCU. I do like Hemsworth because he’s charming but some of his line delivery is just plain embarrassing. Hemsworth does what he can and I give him credit for trying something new with the character. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this was the most fun I had watching Thor since his big screen debut back in 2011.
My feelings on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, however, are the complete opposite. I felt like the joke that Loki is this unreliable and never-changing jackass has finally started to get old. Loki is still one of my favorite characters but I think the way the film tried to make his actions come off as “shocking” didn’t work. Audiences already know how Loki acts and behaves so there is no point pretending that he’s going to become this completely different person.
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk is perfectly fine and does what he needs to do. Hemsworth and Ruffalo are given ample screen time together and you can see their relationship build as the story progresses. They each grow as characters and even have the time to go back and forth with one another when Bruce is the Hulk. A lot of these scenes seemed to work for most of the audience but I found them to be a bit too childish for my taste.
The newcomers to the franchise are very strong for the most part. Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster is without question the comedic highlight of the film. He essentially plays Jeff Goldblum in alien makeup. He’s great and his line delivery is perfect, as anyone who is a fan of Goldblum already knows. Tessa Thompson, who I particularly love as an actress, is noteworthy as Valkyrie. I didn’t find the whole always being drunk gag that amusing but she holds her own and steals the show in the third act. I should also mention that when she springs into action she looks incredibly bad ass!
Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett brings Hela to life. The makeup and the character design is spot on. However, this is Cate Blanchett we are talking about so I expected her portrayal of Hela to be a lot more evil and menacing than what was actually found in the film. I feel like she never really got to shine and the “epic” battle with her at the end left a lot more to be desired. I think if it wasn’t for the fact that Hela was played by Cate Blanchett, I wouldn’t be as hard on the character because everyone knows that Marvel villains are usually weak but this is Cate ‘Freaking’ Blanchett we are talking about here! I can’t help but expect more from her and I don’t blame her but rather the script for giving her so little to do.
Waititi was a great pick in terms of direction. His film looks like Guardians of the Galaxy combined with hints of Tron: Legacy. The film is incredibly vibrant and colorful which are expertly matched by Mark Mothersbaugh’s wonderful score which reminded me of the score of Stranger Things mixed with classic arcade game music. The use of colors are often trippy yet are the perfect fit the tone of the film and the world that Waititi has created for the title character. The set design is terrific as well. The scenes that feature Hela as well as The Grandmaster standout because they are so different yet captured beautifully.
Thor: Ragnarok delivers exactly what Marvel fans always wanted in a Thor film. It is without question the best Thor film which makes it incredibly fun to watch yet totally forgettable. Marvel fans and moviegoers will be thoroughly entertained by Thor: Ragnarok from beginning to end. It will certainly keep fanboys and fangirls entertained until Black Panther and Infinity War hit next year. Thor: Ragnarok is a fun big-budget spectacle that will be best enjoyed with a group of friends looking for a movie with a lot of laughs, stunning visuals, and some solid action sequences.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Thor: Ragnarok is a 7 out of 10.