Thor is starring in his third stand-alone film called ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ and brings a much needed change to the character in the best possibly way. Thor now has a fun personality and great comedic timing, mostly due to Chris Hemsworth amazing acting chops here. In addition to that, the film is steeped in a hypnotic, yet hyper-active color scheme that looks like Willy Wonka and Andy Warhol got together and decorated a city. In fact, Wonka’s theme ‘Pure Imagination’ is a song that plays in the film. It’s not all cold and stiff dialogue here anymore with brown or earth toned aliens and robots that Thor has to use his hammer to fight. Everyone and everything is covered in bright primary and pastel colors that creates a breath of fresh air in this stale universe. That’s all thanks to filmmaker Taika Waititi for giving his unique vision on this big budget film ($180 million). In previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, particularly with Thor, things have been sour and gloomy.
Even the last film was ‘Thor: The Dark World‘, and while it had it’s good moment, it left Hemsworth and his fantastic crafted Thor character something less to be desired, because he was just plain boring. That’s not the case here, nor is it with any of the other character or even villains, as everyone is brightly colored and has a sarcastic side to them. It really gives an extra tone in how relatable everyone is now, much like how James Gunn has made a talking tree, a rotten raccoon, and numerous other alien-monsters so funny and engaging. The same can be said for ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘, which is basically the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ feel with Thor and Hulk. Two years have past since the events of Ultron in ‘Avengers 2’ and Thor is out beating the bad guys on different planets still.
Once he heads home after a wonderful and hilarious encounter with another Avenger, he learns that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is not on Asgard anymore, but Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is up to some hedonistic mischief in his stead. The two brothers track down their father, which he tells them that they have a sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett), who is the Goddess of Death and she’s pissed off that she hasn’t been invited to any of the family dinners in a long time. Hela is super powerful and leaves Loki and Thor abandoned on a colorful, yet trash filled ‘Wall-E’ type of planet, run by Jeff Goldblum in full Jeff Goldblum mode who is known as the ‘Grandmaster’, but looking like an elite member of society from ‘The Hunger Games‘.
In fact, The Grandmaster is a deejay and also heads up a Gladiator style tournament where people can bet on who will kill the other opponent. Soon, Thor is thrown in there and he sees his old pal Hulk in a funny, but all too short smackdown. After their fight, Thor has to talk sense into Hulk and a mysterious woman named Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to help Asgard out in their time of need. The action sequences are mostly good, but all feel too heavy handed in the CGI department, which made most of it look too cartoony, without any soul or heart to it. That is until the final battle, which finally found it’s footing almost two hours into the film.
In the first half of the movie, it’s business as usual with nothing really great or mighty happening. It’s stuff you’ve seen before, but Waititi waits till the final act to show off the emotion that translates into character development and the fight choreography. It just seems more natural there. The best moments of the film is the sibling relationship between Loki and Thor. Waititi really showed them as two brothers who both love and hate each other. The stories they both tell their new friends along the way of growing up made me laugh out loud and really connected me to these characters. We also get to see the somewhat funny side of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and see Hulk have some fun too and talk quite a bit as the actual big green guy.
As for Hela/Cate Blanchett, well – Blanchett is an amazing actress, but this character Hela is just the same old story we’ve seen a thousand times and is completely one note, besides her similar sarcastic lines throughout the film. Mark Mothersbaugh was in charge of the music, which stood out for me, more so than any other Marvel movie to date. Damn good job here, along with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song used throughout the movie. The pacing is could have been fixed a little bit in the first act, but we did get some great new characters and the return of one excellent Asgardian who had some short, but good moments in the film. ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ made Thor fun again. Thank you.
Written By: Bryan Kluger