(Warning! May contain spoilers)
Let me begin by saying that I have enjoyed all the Thor films from the MCU so far, and yes, that includes the second one. These three films have been an exploration in a character and mythos that fits the more fantasy elements within the Marvel universe. In the first Thor film, we had a Shakspearian tone with a heavy lean into the fantasy realm. We established Asgard and the nine realms, and learned that magic is science, and science is magic. In the second film we went with a darker tone that ramped up what we knew about Thor and those around him. It was dark as the title had suggested, however, we got more character development regarding Loki and Thor’s warrior friends. There were mixed reviews to the second film, but I enjoyed it. Now we come to the third movie in the series, and by Odin’s beard, we have received what I would say is the most fun of the Thor films, and quite possibly the most fun MCU film to date!
I know that by the Marvel Studios system that we are in phase 3 of the films, however, I see the MCU to date as BCW and ACW. (Before ‘Civil War’ and After ‘Civil War’) Before ‘Civil War’ we had a MCU that had a more serious tone, with fun elements peppered in. There was a great progression of story, characters, and world building through MCU phase 1 and 2, but when we got to ‘Age of Ultron’, that progression stepped over a line that left most Marvel fans with a bad taste in their mouths. While I liked the second Avengers film, it is probably the worst of the MCU films to date. ‘Ant-man’ released a couple of months after AOU, and was more of the fun side to the MCU. I believe that Marvel Studios recognized that the recent MCU sandwich of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, and ‘Ant-man’ was not as hoped, and saw that the fans enjoyed the bread more than the meat of that sandwich. With ‘Civil War’, Marvel Studios blended all the fun and drama with precision that gave a well-balanced MCU film. Plus, we finally got Spider-man! Following ‘Civil War’, Marvel has kept that new balance of fun and drama on point. We have a better grasp on the expanded MCU, and it delivers for both the hardcore fans and the general movie going audiences. The MCU is different now, but for the better.
This brings us to ‘Thor: Ragnarock’ and how Marvel delivers once again. SPOILER WARNING! Some of the following goes into spoiler territory. Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi of ‘What we do in the Shadows’ fame. He really delivers a somewhat balanced film of humor and drama. The film flirts with crossing the line from fun to absurd, but never crosses it. When the film opens and closes, we see what the visions Thor had in Age of Ultron mean, and what the weight of their consequences are. The fun parts of the film are just that, fun beyond what we expected. For us 80’s comic fanboys, we finally get the answer to ‘Who would win in a fight? Thor or Hulk?’, well sort of. Jeff Goldblum is at his most Goldblumeness, and is rock solid from beginning to end. And to the end I mean the post credit scene. (There are two stingers, one mid-credits and one post-credits) The interesting thing is that this film could have not had the Thor Hulk fights for Goldblume’s enjoyment, and the story would not have been impacted. However, I am glad it is in there! Such a fun thrill ride from beginning to end.
Hela is hella awesome! Cate Blanchett delivers awesome carnage and destruction on her path to re-take Asgard, the nine realms and everything beyond. Her scenes are the most badass in this film. Who knew Thor had a sister? Odin really did get around back in the day. As stated earlier, the film flirts with crossing over into absurd, and some of the more dramatic parts of the story are undercut by the mix in tone. While still a great MCU flick, the death of Odin, Thor’s warrior pals (except Siff maybe?), and the fall of Asgard are not as heavy as they deserved to be. This is not a major complaint, but those pieces could have been handled better. The way they handle Natalie Portman being gone is a cheap throwaway line from a fan rushing Thor on the street and saying they were sad to hear that he had broken up with Jane.
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie was a nice drunken surprise! This is my new favorite female hero in the genre now. She is a hard-drinking warrior who left Asgard after a defeat in battle for her and her sisters against Hela. She is simply put, a badass! We meet a fun rock creature named Korg, who has wanted to revolt against Goldblume’s Grandmaster. Korg is performed by the director himself.
Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) comes back as both the Hulk and himself. We have not seen the Hulk since ‘Age of Ultron’, and not only do we catch up to him, it seems he has also been the Hulk for a couple years now without going back to Banner. The Hulk has been fun in the MCU, but not nearly as fun as he is in this film. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) continues to be the character he has been all along, but with some growth here and there. His reaction to seeing the Hulk was priceless. Loki is once again showing his trickster self, but with some better decisions in this story. He remains as good a character as he was when we first met him in the MCU.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor has been a joy from the start. He continues to hold the same values he has in previous films, but with more of an edge than before. Hemsworth proves once again that he can handle comedic material. He was the funniest part of the recent ‘Ghostbusters’ film. The way Thor is portrayed in ‘Ragnarok’ is as a fun and cheeky as what we are now expecting in the MCU post ‘Civil War’, while still being a serious badass all along.
As of the writing of this review, the estimated opening weekend domestic box office take is approximately 121 million. Double that with the international numbers. It is certified fresh on Rotten Tomato with an average rating of 7.5. I highly recommend ‘Thor:Ragnarok’ and rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
PS: The Stan Lee cameo is fun. Look for it and be ready to clap.
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