[A godly spoiler Alert]
As a kid reading comics I was mostly into Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, and Image stuff, but never got into the Avengers other than Iron Man until I was much older. This held especially for Hulk and Thor as characters, which I always had to ask my brother about, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I was not a huge fan of those movies. Here we are with the God of Thunder’s third movie though, Thor: Ragnarok, which is a huge departure from the first two films with a mostly untested director (in films) and an early reception of high praise from most. I was excited to see it.
Hela is a solid character and Ragnarok is a good read in the comics, so I thought this one might be a surefire hit for Marvel to notch into their belt, but I was a little surprised that one of the things I worried about early on was a much greater issue than what I had read: the humor. There were so many jokes, one-liners, physical humor bits; some good, some bad, and I would say about half that could have been cut, maybe even needed to help with flow. This was so weird for the tone. Of all of the big Thor stories, Ragnarok is supposed to be a serious and devastating event and there were moments that simply killed the tension or took away from an otherwise interesting scene. The Warriors Three are taken out quickly without thought or ceremony, but there is almost no time spent on that to make it matter, brushed over. It felt like there was no time for this seriousness.
It also made me look oddly at some characters when they were put into humorous moments, like Heimdall, even it was only a few times. I often talk about balancing tone and how it helps when used correctly, especially in movies that want to evoke certain feelings, but this one didn’t pull back at all hardly. There were parts that I laughed out loud at, several times, but many of the moments were poorly inserted or overstayed their welcome, and those moments stuck out a bit too much. Humor is weird though and many people will feel differently about this aspect. Some of the references and callbacks to previous movies will be crowd pleasers though, and anytime we get a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory reference, I’m sold. Who would have ever thought that a shake weight would be carried from the set of DC’s Green Lantern, since the director was an actor in that movie, and used in Thor: Ragnarok—seems silly.
“Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days?”
“It varies from moment to moment.”
Taika Waititi, whose name I will butcher many times, was not only the director but also the voice of Korg, who was the prime example of ‘too much’ when we talk about comedy—but it might explain why it felt like British humor. Hulk is often used as a funny character, but by Odin, they went too far! In the beginning at least that is, Mark Ruffalo brings it back down a bit and it looks as if he had a good first act to his three-part story arc they are doing since issues with Universal make it hard for them to make a single Hulk movie and take all of the profits from it. Cate Blanchett is fantastic in several scenes, looks badass, fights furiously, but a typical Marvel villain in some ways, but it is a little more hidden. Good overall though, even if I can never remember her name or that she was in Lord of the Rings, with Karl Urban, who played his role perfectly as Skurge. Tessa Thompson, whom I hear is great in Creed, might be the breakout character here as Valkyrie, who has a small arc—and winner of best flashback award for sure—that pays off in a big way, while Loki, Dr. Strange, and Clancy Brown as Surtur are all incredible.
There are a lot of odd cameos from actors I’m sure had other stuff to do but thought this would be fun. No Natalie Portman as Jane Foster though, who was written off and dumped before the dust even settled. I didn’t like her anyway and was okay with all of this. It was two hours and ten minutes, packed, that didn’t need a sad sob side story or love angle. It focused on more wacky story and character arcs. Many of the players in Marvel’s space opera are set up for some great things in the next few coming movies. I’m sure Loki stole the infinity stone or maybe the cosmic cube also out of the vault, which means he’ll have another chance to betray everyone again. I liked Thor losing the eye, but it did feel tacked on, just to make him look more like Odin. The ending isn’t a happy one, still some hope, but now I’m actually curious what will happen to everyone here. Thor actually feels like a much more fleshed out character, and they needed that.
The action here worked for me, looking good and having a decent flow, except when it was interrupted oddly—giants in a colorful sandbox. The characters all got a chance to shine and throw down with faceless evil soldiers that looked like they were from World of Warcraft. The use of music and specifically Immigrant Song helped out here and made for a couple of fantastic moments, but the whole synthwave soundtrack that accompanies the rest of the movie is amazing as well. It is a visual and auditory spectacle.
That is why I have said that this movie also boasts one of Marvel’s best posters, such a splash of color compared to so many of the others they have produced. It is rare that you can call a poster not only eye-catching but also engaging. There was a lot of care put into this movie, and apparently, a good bit of it was ad-libbed, which worked for some parts and not others. In some moments the writing feels spectacular but lost in others. It is a good space movie that is nowhere close to perfectly executed, but something that made a splash and hit well in a lot of places—more than it misses; by a little. Not a great overall Marvel movie; nowhere near the best—doesn’t even beat Guardians of the Galaxy to me—but it is by far the best of the Thor films and so good in parts, well worth a watch.