Thor: Ragnarok — Colourful, Funny and Deceivingly Great

(Originally written on November 14, 2017)

Ever since Marvel Studios launched its own cinematic universe (dubbed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU), a wide array of characters began to appear in its movies. One of the more interesting ones (to me at least) is the character Thor. Coming from a different place in the universe, we were treated to a unique landscape with his movies that blended different elements together.

However, it always felt like the studio didn’t know what to do with Thor in terms of what type of film to make. The first movie, “Thor”, was a simple origin story of the titular character wanting to succeed his father, but learning it takes more than just lineage to be deemed truly worthy of the crown. With some light humour and a bit of family drama with Loki, it was a solid entry in the MCU that helped build and expand it. The follow up, “Thor: The Dark World”, drastically shifted the tone to a more somber one. Though it did have a few moments of levity, the movie took itself a bit too seriously. As well, the villain was unfortunately forgettable and lacked any real significance in the grand scheme of things.

I think it’s safe to assume that the second Thor movie ranks pretty low among all the Marvel Studios films to date. Whether it was because of studio demands or difficulty in finding the right kind of balance, Thor’s future in his solo movies wasn’t looking too bright. Many were curious as to what his third solo outing would become. Concerns were then somewhat laid to rest when the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok released, leaning heavily into the comedic side of things. With director Taika Waititi at the helm, it looked like Marvel Studios found the right man to bring something fresh to audiences.

Before I talk about the movie, it must be said that there are callbacks to previous Marvel films that don’t provide any explanation for audiences that might have missed them. Hopefully you’re up to speed.

So the basic premise of Thor: Ragnarok revolves around a foreshadowing of how a catastrophic event will hit Asgard (Thor’s homeworld) and destroy it completely (similar to Ragnarok from Norse mythology). Upon learning about this, Thor finds himself doing whatever he can to prevent it. Complications arise and he somehow ends up in a completely different place altogether. He reunites with familiar faces and meets new friends. There is a constant sense of unease for Thor because he wants to return and fight for his home. Alliances are forged and battles are fought. I can’t say much more since it’ll probably spoil the movie. Overall a fairly straightforward plot, but man, the journey is entertaining.

There’s no other way to describe Thor: Ragnarok other than saying it’s a straight-up action-comedy, but that’s what makes the movie so enjoyable. Yes, many of the other Marvel films incorporated humour into them, but this movie took comedy and made it its foundation. That being said, there are tense and serious moments as well, so it’s not entirely a comedic movie. While I loved how funny it was and found myself laughing out loud at times, I couldn’t help but think after how a lot of things between these moments were quickly glossed over. I’m not saying it needs to be super serious, but the ratio of comedy to drama was clearly in favour of comedy. For instance, there are times when something [seemingly] important happens, but these scenes are pretty short and lack the significant punch they should have (in my opinion).

But don’t misunderstand: this personal gripe certainly doesn’t make me appreciate the movie any less, and I understand how it might have ended up that way for the sake of pacing. Another minor issue I had is how the film might have chosen not to really add anything significant to the overall plot of the larger universe and where it’s headed (-cough- Infinity War -cough-), but that’s totally fine.

There isn’t much to say about the cast since they are all phenomenal. Chris Hemsworth shines and shows that he excels in comedy. He and Tom Hiddleston are the perfect duo as Thor and Loki, respectively. Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner gets to show a different side of his psyche as he sheds some light on his constant struggle within himself between him and the Hulk (and there are some great scenes with the big green guy himself). Newcomer Tessa Thompson adds some new flavour with her character. Cate Blanchett is a welcome addition as she takes her role and chews the scenery, but in a good way. And Jeff Goldblum is just classic Jeff Goldblum. What more can I say?

Aside from the cast, we get an awesome musical score from Mark Mothersbaugh consisting of synth sounds and an electronic influence that really evokes the feeling of being in a different galaxy. The action scenes are well done, with one of the early fights being rather unique in what the camera follows.

All in all, Thor: Ragnarok just makes the best of a fun time. Though you might be caught off guard with this new kind of comedic tone the movie and characters have, don’t let it distract you from all that it has to offer. Oh, and you don’t really need to stay until the very end after all the credits are done, but you can if you want. Enjoy!

- A. Shin

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