Thor: Ragnarok Review (2017)
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?: ABSOLUTELY
IMAX?: YES 3D?: UNNECESSARY MID-CREDITS?: YES POST-CREDITS?: YES
The last time we saw the god of Thunder, he had set out an a journey to figure out what his dark visions of destruction meant. After the Scarlet Witch caused him to see those visions, he became increasingly concerned about what they could mean in reality. How much of those visions were prophecy and how much was literal? When Thor: Ragnarok begins, it’s been 2 years since that moment. Unbeknownst to him, the Civil War between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America over Bucky and the Sokovia Accords had come and gone and he finds himself on one of the nine realms about to get his answers (the movie may be happening during the Civil War). On this world he finds out more than he bargains for when he is made privy to the fact that the Odin who sits on Asgard’s throne is not his father (as we learned prior to this movie). He does what he came there to do and heads home to confront Loki and seek out his father in order to restore order.
Unfortunately, this is where the real fun begins. Loki’s actions tipped the last domino and, in a round about way, have caused the return of Hela (Cate Blanchett), goddess of Death.
She. Is. Powerful.
You’ve seen the trailers. You (unfortunately) know most of what she can do. The details are interesting but this was another case of too much shown in the trailers. In their initial battle, both Thor and Loki are accidentally transported to Sakaar, which is basically the garbage dump of the universe. As you’ve seen in the trailers, this planet is home to gladiator games hosted by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who happens to be brother to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) who you saw at the end of Thor: The Dark World and in Guardians of the Galaxy. Valkyrie (going by another name) happens to be a scavenger on this world and ends up bringing Thor to The Grandmaster, looking for a payday. Again, as you saw in the trailers, the champion of these games is Hulk, and Thor is pitted against him for The Grandmaster’s amusement. After many shenanigans, including meeting Korg (Taika Waititi), our heroes head back to Asgard for the final showdown. However, Hela has been busy on Asgard with plans of her own. Naming Skurge (Karl Urban) her “executioner”, she shackles Asgard while Heimdall (Idris Elba) scrambles to protect the people in harm’s way.
In director Taika Waititi’s first mega-budget blockbuster film, he does remarkably well. When he signed on with Marvel, he must have told them “I’m doing this my way, deal with it”, because his stamp, for good or ill, is all over this one. Let’s get this right out of the way: If you are a comic purist, you may want to catch the cliff notes of this one. This is definitely an action-comedy and that’s made clear from the first bit of monologue. In that vein, the movie is fantastic. It’s hilarious from start to finish and the action set pieces are pretty spectacular, for the most part. The exception being the final battle between Hela and Thor. Waititi’s inexperience shows here, but no more so than the mistakes that have been made in many Marvel movie’s third acts. Speaking of which, Hela is definitely done a disservice by the script as far as connecting with the villain, but again that’s the MCU school of villainy at work. I’ll also say that we were written a check by one part of the trailers and it simply was not cashed. Either that or there were insufficient funds.
Ragnarok, in the comics, is the end of all things. It is death and destruction and no more fried chicken for anyone. It is darkness. You never, ever, ever get that sense in this movie. That sucks. It also works, just, not if you’ve read the comics and can’t compartmentalize. This is not the Ragnarok you’re looking for, but it is the Ragnarok we deserve in these times. I can’t say I don’t want to see a dark movie that makes me concerned about everyone’s well-being, but I’m also pretty pleased with the end result here. It’s a Marvel movie, through and through, good and bad. It’s also one of the most fun times you’ll have in the cinema this year, I wager.
Loki has a decent arc, as well as Hulk/Banner. Some of the comedy elements didn’t work with Banner but not enough to detract from the overall plot and mood. Hulk’s arc, particularly in this setting, is a let-down in one respect, though. If you’ve read the comics, you know what Sakaar is and what it means to Hulk fans. I’ll leave it at that. Listen, guys, this movie is great. It’s exciting, hilarious and very, very cool. Also, I’ll just say look out for Korg. He absolutely steals the show. If you’re an avid Thor reader and can be objective, separating 616 from the MCU, you absolutely will enjoy this. If you’re an average Marvel movie fan, you absolutely will enjoy this. The only people who won’t enjoy this are those who don’t really like Marvel movies to begin with and those comic purists who can’t separate the page from the screen. Go see it. Trust me.