Review: Thor Ragnarok
November 6, 2017 •
Filed under A&E
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Last Friday Thor Ragnarok, the third and final film in the Thor franchise, hit theaters. The movie has garnered an enormous amount of praise from fans and critics alike, and, with a whopping 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, is the best reviewed Marvel movie of all time. So, does Raganarok live up to the hype? Well, while I wouldn’t say it is the best movie Marvel has made (that honor, in my humble opinion, belongs to the first Avengers movie or the Captain America movies), Ragnarok is still a blast from start to finish and the best Thor movie by far.
In Ragnarok, Thor’s home world of Asgard is invaded by Hela, the goddess of death, forcing him to team up with some reluctant allies in order to defeat her. But first, he must survive being marooned on the distant planet of Sakaar and a gladiator match against the incredible Hulk.
The tone of Raganarok could not be further from the first two Thor movies, which take themselves far more seriously. Its colorful, retro aesthetic and goofy self-effacement bear a much closer resemblance to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. Thor, a superhero I never thought I would care much for, is made more likable and entertaining than ever by the movie’s decision to drop all pretensions and embrace the inherent silliness of his character. However, while many, myself included, are happy to see the Thor movies move away from broody self-importance, the abrupt tonal shift and lack of continuity with other Thor movies may disappoint some hardcore fans. Ragnarok feels less like a continuation of its predecessors and more like its own self-contained story.
Many of the key players from previous movies are back, including Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Anthony Hopkin’s Odin, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Idris Elba’s Heimdall, but Ragnarok also introduces a bevy of new characters, including the Grandmaster- a bizarre cosmic entity played by Jeff Goldblum who kidnaps Thor and forces him to compete in his deadly gladiatorial contests, and who is responsible for many of the movie’s frequent moments of side-splitting hilarity.
The real standouts, though, are two much needed female presences- Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett’s Hela. Valkyrie is a fun, feisty female lead who makes a worthy counterpart to the god of thunder but is still allowed to be scrappy and vulnerable. The romance between her and Hemsworth’s Thor is pleasantly subtle and free of sexist tropes.
From her first appearance in the movie, when she smashes Thor’s indestructible hammer with a flick of her hand, Blanchett’s Hela is a force to be reckoned with, a dark queen to beat all dark queens who relishes in being evil. Unfortunately, as the movie progressed, I couldn’t help but feel that there were a lot of missed opportunities with Hela’s motivations, which ended up feeling like a re-hash of the same family-power-struggles that have served as central conflicts in the previous two Thor movies. Still, with her elaborate, spiky headdress, dark eyeshadow, flowing cape and undeniable presence, Hela is certainly one of the most distinctive villains to appear in a superhero movie.
The Hulk, for all his inclusion in the promotion leading up to Raganarok, doesn’t have much to do in the actual movie. And, although the film does make excellent use of him as a foil to his brother, Thor, for comedic effect, neither does Loki. The same can be said for additional characters from different Marvel movies who make appearances. Ragnarok has plenty of material to sustain itself on its own, and the added tie-ins and cameos referencing other Marvel films, while welcome, can make the make the movie feel overcrowded and uneven at times.
Still, Raganarok is an extremely fun movie, one which never succumbs to over-the-top gravitas and takes almost every opportunity it gets to make fun of itself. It is one of the most hilarious, strange movies Marvel has made yet, and I can’t count how many times I laughed watching it. And even if you haven’t seen the previous Thor films (or any Marvel movie for that matter), Ragnarok still stands well enough on its own that you could watch it nonetheless.