Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Outrageous, daring and straight-out hilarious. Taika Waititi’s third entry of Marvel’s Thor franchise brings a much-needed breath of fresh air!
Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel House & Anthony Hopkins.
Run Time: 130 min.
US Release: 03 November 2017
UK Release: 24 Oktober 2017
German Release: 31 Oktober 2017
Welcome back to the last of my Marvel catch-up reviews, which will lead to my analysis of Avengers: Infinity War next week. Marvel’s Thor movies aren’t exactly known to be the studios best, however, it also seems as if every instalment is upping its predecessor in entertainment value. So, when it was announced that the Hulk had secured himself a vital position in the story, my interest grew. Then Marvel made it public that Taika Waititi, director of the indie comedy-horror What We Do in the Shadows, would be helming Ragnarok and I was counting the days until I would be able to see this in theatres!
Thor (Hemsworth) is on the search for a solution to Ragnarök, an event that will unleash the end of Asgard, his brother Loki (Hiddleston) has taken over Asgard, disguised as all-father Odin. Hela (Blanchett), the goddess of death, manages to escape her prison to steal the throne for herself, banishing Thor to a far-of battle planet. There, the god of thunder not only stumbles upon an old friend but needs to make new allies to escape and save his home world, which is on the brink of destruction.
Ragnarok departs from the usual tone set in previous Thor films and follows a structure, similar to that of Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy; adding more silly comedy to the narrative, refraining from taking itself too seriously. It feels like less of a Nordic tale, using Greek tragedy components and mixing these up in a funky, action-packed, space-opera setting, with 80’s vibes. What really impressed me personally, was to see how the production team stayed true to the many different comic-book plotlines, which were taken as inspiration, while telling a story of its own. One core aspect that wasn’t changed, though, is the ongoing internal drama of Asgard’s royal family.
A lot of the dialogue has been improved as well, amping up the humour with witty remarks and funny one-liners, of which a lot was improvised on set by the cast. The son of Asgard still uses a lot of Shakespearean speech patterns, even if some of it is loosened up. Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is also a great source of comedy, giving his character the typical, quirky Goldblum-isms that the audience love.
As much as the narrative and dialogue have been improved, this blockbuster also has its fair share of issues. The biggest one being the split plot, which makes for an uneven pacing, leaving the viewers with the sensation that the narrative is too packed. The problematic outcome here is that the threat of the villain is undermined due to the lack of screen time.
This movie is full of different and intriguing characters, giving them all an equal amount of attention. Usually that is a good thing but in this case, to much time has been taken away from the main villain Hela, played by a fantastic Cate Blanchett, turning her into another forgettable Marvel villain. A shame because Blanchett manages to infuse her character with a terrifyingly dark personality while giving her a snarky but funny tone.
Chris Hemsworth always gives this larger-than-life character a likeable and human angle, adding new nuances to his performance. Thor himself is funny, charming as well as a little naive at times, making him very relatable to the viewers. He also progresses as a character, accepting his role as protector of the nine realms and possible future king of Asgard, something he always felt unprepared for. His strength is still his belief in family, which at times is also his weakness, in terms of Loki.
Tom Hiddleston returns as the mischievous adopted brother of the god of thunder. Ranked as one of the best Marvel movie villains, this blockbuster took a different approach to the character, presenting him as an anti-hero rather than the bad guy. Hiddleston portrays Loki once again with a lot of charm and sleekness, making him one of the most enchanting personas in this feature. Hiddleston’s chemistry with Hemsworth is still impeccable, giving their sibling rivalry a believable twist.
The Hulk is an immense addition to the story, stealing almost every scene that he is in. He also obtains more screen time than he usually does in other Marvel flicks, with animators having done a brilliant work at designing him and bringing him to life on the big screen. Mark Ruffalo’s motion-capture is almost as good as that of veteran Andy Serkis, giving the Hulk more depth than audiences are used from him. Yet, Ruffalo not only plays the Hulk but also portrays the green giant’s bodily host Bruce Banner, managing to balance those separate personalities really well. I can’t imagine anyone else as Marvel's Jekyll and Hide!
With Natalie Portman has left the MCU, actress Tessa Thompson has taken the mantle of Thor’s new female sidekick. She plays a Valkyrie warrior who, contrary to Jane Foster, knows how to defend herself and kick butt. Still, her character is not explored enough, leaving her to be perceived as somewhat shallow.
The final product contains solid camera work, especially during the action segments, and that is thanks to a great job, done by director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe. While medium shots are used for personal one-on-one fights, stunning looking wide shots are applied for more epic battles, detailing every little aspect. The biggest surprise comes in form of the two very distinctive styles that are used to depict the two settings. Asgard sticks primarily to its golden colour palette and fantasy looks but Sakaar is flowing with bright, neon colours, giving the world a flashy 80’s atmosphere. Sadly, these two styles do not always mesh well, making it feel as if watching two different stories that were thrown into one film.
Music-wise, this MCU blockbuster makes a complete change, compared to its predecessors. Instead of epic orchestral melodies, the audience is presented with electro soundtracks and synthesisers that compliment the 80’s atmosphere, as well as the world of Sakaar.
Verdict: Thor: Ragnarok manages to surprise with improvised dialogues and a plot structure that is modelled after Guardian of the Galaxy, setting it apart from the first two instalments. The writers and production team took key elements of different comic books, primarily “Planet Hulk”, and carefully interweaved them into an intriguing and original narrative. Sadly, all these different plot points interfere with the development of the villain, diminishing her to a standard MCU baddie. A shame because Cate Blanchett does give a memorable performance as Hela! Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are still very likeable as Thor and Loki; however, it is Mark Ruffalo, with a brilliant rendition of the Hulk, who steals the spotlight from the titular character. The cinematography is breathtaking, including wide shots for brutal battles, and beautiful neon colours to define the planet of Sakaar. All in all, I had a blast watching the third Thor entry in cinemas, which is why I will give it an 8.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok? If so, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Keep an eye out for my Avengers 3 review, which I will post next weekend.