In Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Though not perfect, this is the best of the Thor movies.

Thor: Ragnarok

Premiered on  November 3, 2017. 130 minutes, rated PG-13.

Directed by Taika Waititi

Story by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson

Screenplay by Eric Pearson 

This is a major change from the previous two films. The first Thor film was very Shakespearean, and very slow. The second movie was drowning in special effects and had a forgettable story. This film has much more humor, much brighter imagery, and goes at an incredibly quick pace. Having along some familiar faces helps unquestionably.

 

SPOILER ALERT FOR PLOT SUMMARY

 

The movie opens with Thor addressing the audience, telling them how he got in his current situation, chained and hanging high in a cavern ruled over by Surtur. Action quickly ensues and moves to Asgard, where things aren’t the way they should be. A humorous production, with two cameos, leads to Thor and another Asgardian traveling to Earth. This leads to the pair meeting Doctor Strange, who is much more a master of his craft than he was when last seen in his own film. Strange sends the pair elsewhere and this is where the plot finally kicks in. Unknown history is revealed, Hela enters the picture, and she ends up sending the two Asgardians to another world.

The middle of the movie is a bright, garish location overseen by the Grandmaster, who has Thor fight his champion, the Hulk. The battle between the two is everything one could want — it is epic. After the fight, the Hulk speaks more than he has in all his other cinematic appearances. The two Avengers resume their friendship and with the help of another individual leave the world to go to Asgard.

The finale of the film goes on too long with the masses, but goes too quickly with Surtur. The movie has the survivors in a surprising location, heading into Avengers: Infinity War.

 

SPOILERS OVER

 

Thor is much less formal in this film, being flippant with his foes, yet still not the smartest of the gods. Chris Hemsworth looks as though he’s having a ball and this allows the viewers to enjoy the Thunder God much more than in previous films. His scenes with Tom Hiddleston as Loki are great, with Thor obviously wanting his brother to be a force for good, but knowing he just can’t help his nature. Hiddleston has some outstanding lines and carries himself as the perfect God of Mischief. His reaction to seeing the Hulk is priceless. Cate Blanchett devours the screen as Hela, trying to get what’s due to her. She looks fantastic when sporting her horns and she’s an absolute fury when she throws blades of all sizes at the heroes. Mark Ruffalo gets some excellent scenes as Bruce Banner, showing that he’s fearful of the Hulk taking control of him forever. His turn as the Hulk is also the most human, not only for getting to speak so much, but giving him so much depth. Tessa Thompson is the stand out for new characters whom I won’t spoil. Her backstory is great and her action sequences slick. Karl Urban continues to blaze his way through franchises, this time as Skurge, who’s sadly just a lackey to Hela. He looks awesome, though. Idris Elba gets much, much more to do in this film as Heimdall and he dominated each time he was on the screen. Anthony Hopkins is best in his opening incarnation, but is pretty rote after the reveal. Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum, with his character exactly the same as he’s been in every film since the 1990s. Did it work for his film? Yes, but if you’ve seen any film of Goldblum’s he plays this character exactly the same as all the others.

The effects were great, and were necessary for the story. Highlights included Thor versus Hulk, every Hulk appearance, Doctor Strange’s entrance, the chase sequence in the middle of the film, the Asgardians’ fight against Hela, Hela fighting, the final battle of the film, and Surtur’s final actions. The best effects involve a flashback featuring Tessa Thompson.

The soundtrack employed Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” twice outstandingly, with its use in the finale spectacular. The song that accompanies Thor’s journey in a chair (you’ll understand when you see) was funny, but didn’t fit the film. The soundtrack is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, frontman for the group Devo. The middle of the film sounds as though it’s a soundtrack for an Atari 2600 game. It fit the setting and by the end of the film I realized I would have to track down a copy of the score.

The good: The action, the music, the look, a majority of the jokes, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, and the first bonus scene in the credits.

The bad: The Ragnarok tie-in to the plot is really loose and will probably disappoint those who love the Walt Simonson comic books, not enough dimension for Karl Urban’s Skurge, Hemsworth’s hair had absolutely no justifiable reason to be cut, Stan Lee’s cameo (I’m done with playing “Who’s Stan in this one?”), Jeff Goldblum playing himself, Korg — couldn’t stand this completely unfunny character (check the credits for who voices him), three unnecessary deaths of long time supporting characters, Thor’s god ability being questionable at several times, horrible make-up on Thor for the last 15 minutes of the film, and the second (and last) bonus scene after the credits.

The final line: This is the best of the Thor movies, as it’s most like a comic book. The story is fast, the action big, and it doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s the most accessible for those who haven’t seen a comic book movie and those who have enjoyed the characters in previous films. It’s not perfect, but it’s the only Thor movie I’d want to give a second viewing to or purchase. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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