This post was originally published on 26/10/2017, but has been moved back to fit in with my MCU review series.
This is it. The end of the line. With one week left to go before Avengers: Infinity War hits, I’ve made it to the last Marvel Movie of the series (chronologically). Well, sort of; I already wrote this review a while ago, but the overall watching experience has been fun. Anyway, here we go; it’s Thor: Ragnarok!
RELEASED: October 27th 2017
DIRECTED BY: Taika Waititi
WRITTEN BY: Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson & Christopher Yost
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Mark Mothersbaugh
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Karl Urban & Anthony Hopkins
When I first heard that Taika Waititi had been brought on to lighten the tone of what was, at the time, a very dark script, I was worried. Not because I didn’t have faith in Waititi; What We Do In The Shadows is hilarious, and Hunt For The Wilderpeople has since become one of my favourite films. The problem was that with a title like ‘Ragnarok’, the usual, light-hearted, quippy Marvel style didn’t seem appropriate.
And when you start watching the film, you may think that Waititi has indeed sacrificed the true themes of the story in favour of directing yet another bubbly Marvel movie. The majority of elements from Thor‘s mythology are quickly sidelined and supporting characters are killed off with abandon, so that Thor and Loki can be carted off to Sakaar, where they can have a colourful Guardians of the Galaxy-esque adventure.
My fears started to subside when it came to humour. While Thor: Ragnarok definitely has it’s fair share of jokes, the humour is done in a way that it actually fits the moment. The jokes are more sporadic than other Marvel movies, but when they come about, they’re better crafted than, say, hammering down the fact that ‘Taserface’ is stupid name over and over (looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2).
But that’s just one piece of the puzzle, and serves as one of many factors that make you realise that by the time you reach the film’s climax, Waititi was definitely the right man for the job.
The result is the best Thor movie so far, the best Hulk movie so far, and probably one of the best Marvel movies in the seventeen-film strong series.
The film follows Thor as he seeks to hold off Ragnarok, the ‘end of all things’. During this quest, a string of encounters with Surtur, Doctor Strange, his brother Loki and his long-lost sister Hela sends the God of Thunder on a journey of self-discovery that leads him to the planet Sakaar. There, Thor is forced to become a gladiator, but finds unlikely allies in the form of a forgotten Valkyrie and the incredible Hulk.
That may seem like a lot of information there, but frankly a lot happens in the first quarter of the movie as the film tries to quickly tidy up any loose ends from the previous films so it can get to the meat of the picture; the Thor/Hulk team-up.
Once we leave Earth and move on to Sakaar that we’re presented with every eighties science-fiction director’s dream; Sakaar is a planet filled with spectacle; from its distinctive characters to it’s ultra-colourful retro cityscape. With each Marvel film, the visuals seem to get better and better, and Ragnarok is no exception.
The cast is also a delight; crammed full of amazing actors bringing their A-game. Each character undergoes a strong emotional journey, that shows that the threat of Ragnarok isn’t really in the foreboding promise of the world ending, but more in how it affects the characters. Perhaps the only weak point in the film would be that, while Blanchett clearly does her best and has a lot of fun in the role, her character, Hela, is another Marvel villain who could do with a bit more work. The dialogue between Hela and Thor scratches the surface of what could make a great villain, but unfortunately it never quite gets there.
But that’s forgiveable due to the aforementioned fact that the meat of the story is the Thor/Hulk team-up. Each character progresses so much further in this film than they have in any other. The Hulk, for one, evolves past his usual form of a mindless beast, while his alter ego Bruce Banner finds his very humanity threatened by the choices he is forced to make – something that makes for a surprisingly poignant watch, considering the character is nigh-indestructible.
However, it’s Thor’s arc that really makes for the most emotional parts of the movie. Despite a lot of his supporting cast and settings being sidelined, it’s his actions and dialogue that show that at it’s heart, this is still very much a Thor movie, rather than a Guardians knock-off. Every time he has a familial interaction, he gets one step closer to the closure he’s been seeking surrounding his strict father, deceased mother and mischievous siblings, becoming a truly rounded character, as opposed to just a brusier with a hammer. And when the climax of the film hits, and the musical ques link back to the start of his first film, you realise that he has every bit of potential to be the ‘strongest Avenger’, not just in terms of physique, but in terms of character.
While the focus of the movie was indeed marketed as being Hulk vs Thor, it’s so much more than that. With dragons, demons, undead warriors, angels and monsters, this is very much the Thor movie we’ve all been waiting for.
All-in-all, I give it: