Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Film Review
Seventeen movies into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and there appears to have been a change in tone since the mega success of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and this change appears to have improved the Thor franchise which suffered from a forgettable second instalment after a decent origin story.
Injecting more humour and pop culture stylings from a previous decade seems to be the recipe for success in recent films since 2014’s entry into the MCU and it works – to a point.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a larger than life Marvel super hero, charismatic, strong, ‘dumb’, and resilient, and he’s joined in this film by the only Marvel character who is bigger than he is – The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Thor’s visions of an apocalyptic future for his home of Asgard appear to be coming true, and the Prince of Asgard must face off against his older sister Hela – the Goddess of Death – who has come to claim the throne but before he can do battle he accidentally finds himself transported halfway across the galaxy to a junk planet where he must fight to survive in a gladiatorial arena against none other than The Hulk.
So Thor has to organise his escape from Sakaar and get back to Asgard where a final battle awaits.
Thor’s team is completed by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) as they battle not one but two main foes in Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) and The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) as they fight in two main locations – Asgard – Thor’s homeworld – but first they must escape from Sakaar – a junk world surrounded by portals but dominated by The Grandmaster.
Thor Ragnarok is an above average amusing road trip for two of Marvel’s most loved characters
Director Taika Waititi, who has a small role in the film himself as a surprisingly amiable rock monster, has worked hard to meld two legendary Marvel comics storylines (Planet Hulk and Ragnarok) together into a single movie and put plenty of laugh out loud moments in there to keep the audience amused.
This is where the film falls down a little bit in plotting and starts to feel like two films squished into one. There’s two great villains played deliciously by superb actors who are clearly having a whale of a time but they hardly get to interact with our heroes and end up doing moustache twirling monologues to keep themselves amused.
There’s the requisite excess of cameos to help move the story along and a climactic cgi-heavy final battle but any emotional heft due to the consequences explored in this film is utterly diffused by the humour which was good in moderation but when turned up to 11 in this film leaves you feeling a little remote – especially in places where the cgi looks a little low-rent and lightweight (looking at you, Norway!).
This seems like such a pity given some of dreamlike visuals earlier in the film looked very much like an epic prog-rock album cover as done by Roger Dean or Chris Achilleos.
Perhaps my anticipation was too high going into the film but it also felt like Marvel put too many of the best scenes in trailers and teasers, leaving the two end credits scenes looking very shallow.
A bit like the film itself.
But Thor’s charm just about lets it get away with it – Kenneth Branagh’s emotional weight and journey from the first Thor film are noticeable by their absence. We’re all just waiting for the Avengers Infinity War anyway though.
Thor: Ragnarok (12A; moderate fantasy violence; 131 minutes)
Directors: Taika Waititi
Cast Includes: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston
Summary: THOR: RAGNAROK is a sci-fi fantasy adventure in which the God of Thunder must stop the Goddess of Death when she threatens to destroy Asgard.
Rating: **** (A loose collection of skits which just about hang together but the comedy overpowers most of the emotional depth between the action and the laughs)