Final Rating: 8/10
Directed by The Guy Who Did What We Do In The Shadows (Taika Waititi)
Written by The Guy Who Wrote a Bunch of Marvel Shorts (Eric Pearson), A Guy Who Wrote a Bunch of Marvel Cartoons (Craig Kyle), and The Guy Who Wrote Thor: The Dark World (Christopher Yost)
Starring: The Blonde Hemsworth (Chris Hemsworth), Handsome Snape (Tom Hiddleston), Goth Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), The Chick From ‘Dear White People’ (Tessa Thompson), Mark Ruffalo, and Jeff Goldblum
Thor: Ragnarok is the third film about the Marvel hero Thor. Directed by indie darling Taika Waititi, it’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve said that about every superhero movie to come out this year (I’m reserving comment on unreleased films like Justice League). So far, we’ve had: a dysfunctional family character piece (Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2), a return to form origin story (Wonder Woman), and a fun high school comedy (Spider-Man: Homecoming). I think it’s reflective of the audiences fatigue at superhero movies that films are having to adapt and take new genres or angles to be fun and interesting again. Thor: Ragnarok is a dark science fiction comedy. Waititi’s known for finding the humour in the darkest places, so it’s fitting that Thor: Ragnarok is both the funniest, and the heaviest installment. Some viewers might be put off by this. There isn’t enough breathing room between each devastating act and the joke that follows, giving the viewer not enough time to care about the stakes. At least there are actual tangible stakes. Remember how the events of Thor: The Dark World affected the rest of the MCU? Me neither.
Thor: Ragnarok is the most like Norse Mythology, and the most like a Thor comic of the MCU films. It gives little nods to the text (most notably, a stein that never empties) and moves through time and space without stopping for much exposition. Indeed, the world exists now, so we can just play in it.
The most standout performance of the film was Taika Waititi himself. He stole his own movie with the motion capture role of Korg. An alien who looks like a blue version of Fantastic Four’s The Thing.
(Spoilers follow as I get into the nitty gritty.)
The film gives Thor’s world a good pruning. Gone is the majority of the supporting cast from the past two movies. Thor is without a love interest, having been dumped by Jane. His mother and father are dead. The Warriors Three are killed off in a stakes-raising power play by villain, Hela (Cate Blanchett) and I for one, did not care. I had no attachment to any of these characters and was relieved for the brevity their absence brought. The supporting cast has been whittled down to fan favourites, Loki and Heimdall. This leaves room for newcomer, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) without making the material feel thin or bloated due to the amount of characters on screen needing something to do.
Cate Blanchett is having the time of her life as hammy villain Hela and it’s a delight to watch.
It’s a tight film that balances its silliness with a message about the way a buried past poisons a society. Odin’s refusal to acknowledge the violent history of Asgard and how that colonialism led to its wealth is the driving force behind Hela’s actions. It’s an interesting take and a message that the current filmgoing audience needs to digest along with its popcorn.
This is the kind of film I wanted Valerian to be and I’m sure it’s making Luc Besson furious.