So I watched Thor: Ragnarok…
I’ve been looking forward to this movie for ages. Thor is by far my favourite Avenger and his cosmic adventures allow for novel storylines that most of Marvel’s other Earth-bound heroes can’t provide. Ragnarok is probably the most daring Thor movie yet BUT is that a good thing?
Okay, basic plot: After going on a quest to find the Infinity Stones, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself stranded on the alien planet Sakaar. Thor is desperate to return to his home, Asgard, in order to prevent Ragnarok – an event which will lead to Asgard’s destruction. While on Sakaar, Thor finds his old comrade – The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – and his disgraced brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Back on Asgard, Hela (Cate Blanchett) the goddess of death – in Thor’s absence – plans to claim the throne and lay waste to all that stand in her path. Thor must return home and stop Hela before she destroys his people and unleashes her plan to conquer the entire universe.
The thing I enjoyed most and least about this film is how funny it is. Watching interviews with the cast and reading up on the film, a constant theme is how director, Taika Waititi encouraged improvisation. This is quite evident when you watch the movie. Certain pieces of dialogue feel spur of the moment. The film has a real unrestricted vibe to it. This allows for a great amount of humour and the fulfillment of Taika Waititi’s vision to create a Thor movie completely different from its predecessors. Now, unfortunately, there is a downside to all this humour and improvisation. This film often lacks structure. It feels like the script went out of the window to allow for all this improvisation and as a result the film becomes messy and uncoordinated.
There’s also a loss of gravity that comes with Thor: Ragnorok‘s unrelenting humour. Everything’s a joke, nothing feels serious and, as a result, it doesn’t feel like anything’s at stake. Hela, the villain in this piece, means to conquer the universe; but you don’t really care because she keeps making jokes at every turn. Thor is stranded on this alien planet while his people are being slaughtered but you don’t care because you’re too busy laughing at his never-ending quips. I don’t think you have to be dark, gloomy and gritty to create a sense of danger and gravity in a film but it’s difficult to create real stakes when everything is a joke. Marvel films have always been funny but normally they have grittiness interspersed with humour which creates a good balance. In this film, the scale is swayed too far towards humour.
Another problem I had with this film is its lack of action. Or rather, it’s lack of exciting action. There are a few fight scenes here and there but none of it is going to get you out of your seat. Thor hits some things, he flies around, it’s all good and well but you’ve seen it a million times before. Ragnarok doesn’t push the envelope with its action the way it does with its humour and it’s a real shame.
It’s a shame because it’s got some truly badass characters in it. Hulk’s in this movie and for all of you who are thinking you’re going to see some amazing fights with Hulk and Thor fighting side by side…you’re going to be disappointed. I’m actually wondering why Hulk was in this movie at all? He doesn’t kick much ass nor does his alter-ego Bruce Banner do enough “science stuff” to warrant his inclusion. It feels like Infinity War is coming soon and they just wanted us to know that Hulk’s still alive. I still don’t understand why Marvel doesn’t give Hulk his own solo movie but what do I know?
I did enjoy the acting in this film. This is Chris Hemsworth’s fifth outing as the god of thunder and he really has the character down. The movie also allows Hemsworth to display his comedic talents which you might have gotten a glimpse of in movies like Ghostbusters and Vacation. He is a really funny actor but I just wish there were more moments of grit to his performance. Tom Hiddleston as Loki, as always, steals the show and is my favourite character in the piece. I do think the dynamic between Loki and Thor has become a bit stale in much the same way as the sibling relationship between Professor X and Magneto. The constant love/hate/betrayal/forgiveness/more betrayal thing has reached critical mass and we need to see something more.
One thing we definitely need to see more of is Tessa Thompson who stars as Scrapper 142. She’s a bounty hunter with an interesting link to Asgard that I really enjoyed. I’m really hoping to see more of her character in future Marvel films. She’s an absolute badass. Someone who I could have done less with was Jeff Goldblum who stars as The Grandmaster. Look, I think Jeff Goldblum was amazing during the 80s and 90s but his idiosyncratic performances just don’t do it for me anymore. I feel there were too many new characters in this film and the script wasn’t able to balance all of them. This is a true shame because it leads to Cate Blanchett – who I really enjoyed as Hela – getting the short end of the stick when it came to screentime. We’re given glimpses into the character but never a full view.
Now I’ve said quite a bit about why I didn’t quite like this movie but the question is should you go watch it? I think you already have. If you’ve seen the trailers that came out before this film’s release, I’d say you’ve seen at least about 70% of the movie. That’s not even an exaggeration. The trailers revealed far too much from characters’ allegiances to potential twists to cool fight scenes. This ‘overshare’ feature in trailers is a common problem in modern cinema and I think it is taking away something from the enjoyment of films. There was hardly anything to enthrall or surprise you in this film. I actually caught myself yawning a few times because there was nothing new for me to enjoy.
Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is in many ways the best Thor movie yet and also the worst. The bulk of its entertainment value comes from its seemingly endless supply of humour. Unfortunately, this humour comes at the expense of story. It’s a mess but a really funny one. I think most people will enjoy it so I think it’s worth seeing despite the problems I had with it. 6/10