REVIEW – “Thor: Ragnarok”
Thor: Ragnarok checks in as the 17th film in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Throughout the film, you can feel the progression of not only the franchise and its characters, but the genre as a whole. This universe started as a dip into the world of Marvel and the characters that inhabit it; blending in the flashy costumes and rich storylines within our own reality to make for something a bit more palatable for the modern viewer. From the opening sequence of Thor: Ragnarok alone, where we find our titular hero battling demonic creatures in the backdrop of a gorgeous fiery vista to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, it’s evident that the MCU is no longer here to make films about modernizing our heroes for the sake of the audience’s comfort – but that we’re here for a self-embracive period for these characters and the colorful, wacky stories that they should be able to tell.
The film is much like Guardians of the Galaxy in the sense of a larger story looming over several, cosmic adventures embarking throughout. From the gladiator matches on the far-away planet of Sakaar run by The Grandmaster (played wonderfully by Jeff Goldblum) to the colorful battles run by Hela on Aasgard, where she wants to take over the throne from Odin – this is a large-scale spectacle through and through. This makes it even more impressive when it remains to be Taika Waititi’s film among all of the CGI-heavy craziness and deeply nerdy lore that is being fed to the audience in each scene. The film somehow strikes a truly perfect balance of feeling like a deeply funny, singular vision behind the camera as well as a genuine expansion of this universe and an embracive love letter to the cosmic world of Marvel. It’s hard to stand-out in a franchise that is this far out, but much like James Gunn and the Russo bros. have done with their films in the franchise, I feel like Taika has made his mark on the universe and truly defied Thor as a character here.
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans rightfully get their praise as the definitive versions of Iron Man and Captain America by the fans, but I’ve always felt like Chris Hemsworth has been neglected when it comes to that sort of praise. His previous two Thor films, while entertaining, are lesser-tier MCU entries and are hardly ever talked about among the rest. I feel as if Thor: Ragnarok has not only defied Thor as a character and his place in the MCU, but has finally proven how quintessential of a part Hemsworth is to this character being as lovable as he is. Hemsworth balances the muscle, the laughs, and the heart so perfectly that it’s hard to imagine anyone else ever replacing him. It’s not an easy job to carry a film that’s as wacky and vast in scope as this, but he’s the perfect man for the job. His entire supporting cast is fantastic as well with Mark Ruffalo’s go as The Hulk possibly being the best yet, Cate Blanchett hamming it up to perfection as the villainous Hela, another entertaining go for Loki by Tom Hiddleston, and Tessa Thompson being a scene-stealer as Valkyrie in every moment she’s on-screen.
I’m not sure how much this will appeal to casual Marvel fans or people who just watch these movies because they’re so engraved into our culture now. There is such steep lore being presented here and so much craziness going on that I feel like some people may be turned off by it at points. My only real issue with the film is that the plot feels so weightless in comparison to everything else going on that the consequences don’t hit quite as hard as you’d like when shit truly does go down. At the same time, I can’t quite recall a blockbuster of this size and caliber being quite as bat-shit crazy and totally unique as Thor: Ragnarok is, which makes me love it even more. Much like the best films of the MCU like Guardians of The Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Avengers – Thor: Ragnarok reminds me of why I love this genre so much and the endless possibilities that can occur when you take them to their full potential. This is one of Marvel’s very best. 4.5/5.