Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Cate Blanchett as Hela
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
Tessa Thompson as Scrapper 142/Valkyrie
Karl Urban as Skurge
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Taika Waititi as Korg
Director: Taika Waititi
Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.
Thor Ragnarok was one of my most anticipated films of 2017, it seemed to be a very unique entry into the MCU. The addition of actors like Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum had me interested. But the aspect that intrigued me most of all was that Taika Waititi of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We do in the Shadows fame was directing, it was certainly an odd choice for presumably the final Thor movie. Ragnarok from everything that we’ve been seeing looked like a weird 80s action sci-fi comedy, it looked so bizarre and off from whatever we were expecting that I just had to know what it was like. Overall, Thor Ragnarok is a fun time, Taika’s direction and writing definitely made this a very unique film that is undoubtedly entertaining.
The first act has some pacing issues, it moves quite slow until Hela shows up for the first time, then the pacing starts sorting itself out. Most of the film is focussing on Thor on Sakaar, then occasionally it will cut back to Asgard with Hela (the main villain), almost out of obligation to show that she is still in this movie. The second half however was more consistently solid. Yes there is a lot of comedy but don’t just mistake it as being just Guardians of the Galaxy with Thor in it. If you’ve seen Taika’s other movies, you can tell that is definitely a Taika Watiti film. The comedy here is not the same as the comedy in the other Marvel movies, its self deprecating, it’s not afraid to make fun of itself, it goes full bonkers at times, so its not just something you usually see. This is actually the most funny of the MCU film, some of the jokes were quite simply hysterical. The question is, does Taika’s tone and direction work for the movie? For the most part.
First thing I want to get out of the way is that this is not a Thor movie, even Thor: The Dark World, arguably the worst Thor movie (as well as the worst MCU film) felt more like a Thor movie than Ragnarok. It feels like Taika Waititi doing this bizarre sci-fi action comedy, that just so happens to be starring Thor and featuring the potential threat of Asgard. To be honest, I’m not really sure those two aspects work well together, especially as the cutting back to Hela in Asgard felt out of place seemed (like I said) out of obligation to briefly show what was going on there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the tone was misplaced. One thing I can praise Ragnarok for doing is that it separates the dramatic scenes from the comedic scenes, it doesn’t ruin an emotional scene with some misplaced joke (which has become a problem with many of the MCU films as of late). So its not that the comedy ruined the emotional scenes, its that I just didn’t feel that personally connected to the story. I just feel like I should really be caring much more about what’s going on than I actually end up doing, even most scenes that were meant to be emotional didn’t really hit. Aside from that, there’s nothing really here storywise that I have a major issue with. For what Taika was going for, he did a great job with it.
Chris Hemsworth looks like he’s having a blast playing Thor and Tom Hiddleston is once again great as Loki, they work off each other great. Mark Ruffalo was also good, we see the Hulk more than we see Bruce Banner, we actually have The Hulk speaking and interacting and it was an interesting angle to take on him. The supporting cast was also good with actors like Karl Urban and Anthony Hopkins. Idris Elba gets the most to do as Heimdall in any of the Thor movies. Jeff Goldblum is in this movie and this is the most Jeff Goldblum that Jeff Goldblum has ever been. It felt like Taika just wanted Jeff Goldblum to be all Jeff Goldblumy, he doesn’t play a very significant or threatening character. I didn’t mind that, he was undoubtedly fun to watch. Taika Waititi himself plays (motion captures/voices) a character named Korg, who was definitely one of the stand out characters. He was so hilarious and Taika’s voice performance played a big part in that. But the stand out character to me was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, such a welcome addition to the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of her in future MCU films. Cate Blanchett is Hela, the main villain here. Is she great? Yes and no. She is undoubtedly one of the better MCU villains, and Blanchett’s performance is fantastic, making the character even better. However, to put it simply, we didn’t get enough of her. As I said, the first half of the movie mostly takes place where Thor is and every so often we get a brief scene with Hela. By the second half we start getting the appropriate number of scenes with her but we really didn’t get to see Hela doing a lot. She is great in the scenes that she’s in however, she feels like a threat, was acted very well and wasn’t as one dimensional as I thought she may end up being. She was also better than most MCU villains, so that’s always nice to see. There are also some hilarious cameos.
The action was generally well filmed. Most of the CGI looks fantastic and some of the shots are absolutely beautiful. Other times it looks really fake looking. When the film is set in practical locations it is great, a loft of the time the production design, costumes, makeup all work to give a unique look. It really does embrace the world of Sakaar and make it something truly different. However Asgard just looks okay, really Kenneth Branagh is the only director who has managed to make Asgard look like something special. The score by Mark Mothersbaugh is pretty good, slightly more memorable than most of the other MCU scores.
I had a fun time with Thor Ragnarok and it’s probably the best MCU film this year. With entertaining characters and most of all Taika’s writing, Thor Ragnarok was a very unique comic book movie. I’m not really sure if Thor was the best character or series for Taika to use for his crazy ideas, and some of the emotional scenes don’t hit as hard as they should’ve but for the most part Ragnarok gets it right. So I do recommend watching it, its at the very least entertaining.