Title: Thor: Ragnorak (2017)
Genre: Superhero/Sci Fi/Fantasy/Comedy
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars (primary actors): Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, and Mark Ruffalo
Bias: I (obviously) love superheroes, and I love Taika Waititi’s work. Plus, I’m a Thor: The Dark World apologist, so…
In A Nutshell: After traveling the cosmos in search of the Infinity Stones, Thor (Hemsworth) discovers that Asgard is on the verge of Ragnarok – the prophesied destruction of everything. After Hela (Blanchett), the goddess of Death, returns, Thor winds up on a strange planet where he encounters the Grandmaster (Goldblum), Valkyrie (Thompson), and the Hulk (Ruffalo). Thor, along with his brother Loki (Hiddleston), determines to escape and form a team to save Asgard from Hela.
The Critique: For all of the complaints about the Marvel Cinematic Universe being too generic, Thor: Ragnarok is the latest in a series of almost auteur-driven films along with Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy and this year’s sequel. This is a Waititi film from start to finish, and, despite some fantastic action and effects, is more of a comedy than a superhero film.
While the previous Thor movies brought cosmic storylines and comedy together, Thor: Ragnarok finally fully commits to both. Hemsworth and Hiddleston have always been a great pairing in this series (and even more so, with the former given more opportunity to be in on the joke, as well as getting in several of his own), and everyone else in the film brings their own unique – and Goldblumian – energy, as well. That’s not to say the film is without its serious moments. Ragnarok, in Norse mythology and in the comics, is serious, literally end-of-the-world stuff, and that’s on display here. Unfortunately, that’s where the film doesn’t entirely work.
There are some big, life-changing moments (for the characters) in Thor: Ragnarok. Revelations about the royal family and Asgardian history, major and relatively major deaths, and decisions that impact that larger Marvel universe, there’s a lot of serious stuff. Much of the time, however, these moments are either immediately undercut with a joke or gag, or are left behind as the plot barrels forward to the climax. It makes for some jarring tonal shifts that don’t fully hang together on a first viewing. Ultimately, though, the film is so relentlessly fun and entertaining that I know I’ll watch it again and again, so I can’t fault it too much for those choices.
Shout-out: Heimdall (Elba) finally gets to be the bad-ass we always knew he was. Also, (for my fellow comic nerds) this is SO totally a Defenders (comic, not Netflix) movie.
To Go, to Rent, or to Netflix: See this in the theater. It looks gorgeous, and has some fantastic art design, effects, and action sequences.