Thor: Ragnarok is One of the Most Fun Marvel Films Yet!
What’s so amazing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it’s been built with such a strong foundation over the years, that now these later installments have the ability to just jump right into the thick of things without worry of having to reintroduce the audience to everything that’s gone down beforehand to get to where we are now. Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th film in the MCU and not only does it Ragna-rock (I’m not even sorry,) but it also shows that the MCU is showing no signs of fatigue.
Thor: Ragnarok takes place two years after Avengers: Age of Ultron, and right out of the gate it sets the comedic tone, with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) quickly explaining to the audience – and his cellmate – what he’s been up to since we last saw him. Now, both Thor and Thor: The Dark World had comedic elements to them, but they also had darker themes and weightier stories that often took precedence. Not this time though! Regardless of the fact Thor is battling Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, as well as attempting to stop the complete annihilation of Asgard via the prophesied Ragnarok, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the funniest Marvel films to date.
There’s really a lot going on in this movie, but it never feels bogged down or convoluted. Along with the threats mentioned above, Thor also finds himself on the planet Sakaar, where gladiatorial contests are held, and it’s here where Thor runs into the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who has also been MIA since the end of Age of Ultron. How the Hulk got there is very briefly touched upon, and while it’s not the best of explanations, it’s easy to forgive since it allows for an intergalactic buddy movie of sorts between two characters that play incredibly well off of one another.
Thor: Ragnarok is also director Taika Waititi’s first foray into big budget Hollywood, and he Mjölnirs it out of the park. Okay, that probably doesn’t make sense, but you get the idea. Waititi – who directed two of the Marvel shorts starring Thor and his roommate Darryl – handles the film with great care, and truly delivers something fresh to the MCU with a much different look and style than we’re used to. The film has a very 1980s vibe to it, from the score to the vibrant colour palette used throughout – though much more on Sakaar than off.
It also helps that writers Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle and Eric Pearson all write and work for Marvel in some capacity. They know their subject material and that confidence allows them to play up the comedic strengths of the character dynamics instead of simply playing it safe.
Yes, as mentioned above, Thor: Ragnarok is flat-out hilarious. Next to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Ragnarok is easily the most joke-filled flick in the MCU. Thor, who has always had a mix of seriousness and wry humour often feels like he’s doing stand-up from the first moment we catch up with him, right until the last – and it really works. Yes, Thor had to learn not to be so smug back in his first film; however, now he comes off less arrogant and more confident, and with that confidence comes quite a lot of one-liners and slapstick moments…with many of the latter coming at his own expense.
That’s not to say there aren’t serious moments to be found within Ragnarok, it’s just that they don’t have such a dark and heavy tone as was the case with say, The Dark World. Some of these serious moments do lose some impact due to how the movie flows. It’s understandable to some degree, as the pacing of the film is just so spot-on that stopping it to deal with certain aspects midway through may not have worked, and if they were filmed it’s possible they found themselves on the cutting room floor; however, to have them ignored completely does hurt things a bit.
New to the cast are Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban and Blanchett, and all are absolute rockstars, or should I say Ragna-rockstars…no, I probably shouldn’t. Goldblum plays The Grandmaster, who is the leader behind the gladiatorial games on Sakaar. I mean, I’m not sure what more there is to say because there really isn’t a role that Goldblum gets that he isn’t fantastic in, and Marvel really couldn’t have found a better Grandmaster.
Thompson plays Valkyrie, who is the one who captures and sells Thor to the Grandmaster. She’s quite a fun and unique character that helps elevate the film’s mythology, and Thompson plays the part of an ass-kicking – slightly alcoholic – lady with nothing to lose wonderfully. Urban joins the ranks as Skurge, the new sentry of the bifrost bridge now that Heimdall (Idris Elba) has been deemed a traitor by Odin – who is actually Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Yes, Hiddleston returns as the fan-favourite Loki. Now, at the end of The Dark World when Loki banishes Odin and takes his place as the King of Asgard, most thought that would likely play a bigger role in the story to come; however, since two years have gone by since this happened, the damage and disarray that has spread across the nine-realms without Odin to look over them makes it quite apparent to Thor upon his return at the start of Ragnarok that Odin is indeed Loki, and even that storyline is somewhat surprisingly handled with quite the comedic touch. But again, it works well with the story being told and it keeps things moving along with no unnecessary downtime.
And we can’t forget Blanchett, who is absolutely superb as Hela, the goddess of death. She’s so good that I almost wish there was more Hela to be had throughout! She’s got some magnificent moments, and even her explanations about her past and why Odin locked her away are done in a destructive manner that truly highlights Hela’s evil persona. While she’s much smaller than Hemsworth, Blanchett embodies the character so well that when the two square off, Hela seems like more of a formidable foe than even the biggest of Thor’s past rivals.
As we head towards the end of Phase 3 in the MCU, Thor: Ragnarok proves that the Marvel brand is as strong as ever, delivering one of the best blockbusters of the year. Even with a 130-minute runtime, Ragnarok never drags, and is an incredibly well paced, laugh-out-loud, visually stunning, action-packed joyride.
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson
Notable Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.