Overall: 14/20 – B
Director: Taika Waititi
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum
There were few movies I was looking forward to more than Thor: Ragnarok. I became slightly disenchanted with Marvel when Captain America: Civil War came out so I’ve been embracing the new movies that featured some of the other Marvel superheroes. I loved Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor is one of my favorite superheroes so I had high hopes for him. In some ways, it was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it had a lot going for it. But I had more issues with it than I thought I would.
Similar to my feelings in Justice League, there were many things about this plot that just fell flat. The title of the movie is Ragnarok, yet the actually occurrence of Ragnarok is a minor footnote. The first half of the movie at least is devoted to Thor attempting to make his way back to Asgard after being tossed into a wormhole by his sister, the “evil” Hela. The writers throw in random scenes of terrified villagers and a guardian Heimdall wandering around but that’s about it. More than half of the movie is devoted to reuniting Thor and Hulk and forming the so-called “revengers” (Is that a thing? Is it just Thor trying to be funny? I’m not really sure). There are lots of gags and funny bits that told me they are desperately trying to emulate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. This would have been fine if they’d spent the other two movies setting up Thor as this kind of character. I didn’t see the person I had known to be Thor until the very end of the movie. Maybe it is the shock of losing his hammer. Maybe it is the loss of his father. Maybe it is being stranded on a ridiculous garbage dump of a planet with some very strange people. It just doesn’t work.
Chris Hemsworth returns as the title character of Thor sporting a new hairstyle and by the end of the movie a wicked looking eye patch. In some ways he’s still the same lovable Golden Retriever character we all know and love. However, I feel like there is something missing. For the sake of cheap gags, we lose the Asgardian warrior. Thor throwing something in the middle of a temper tantrum only to be hit in the head? No. Just no. StarLord, totally can see him doing something like that. Not Thor. Loki returns with his alter-ego Tom Hiddleston as well. The two maintain their brotherly friendship and that is probably the most honest and unforced interaction I see. I wish I could say I enjoyed Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, but he fell into the same category as Thor. He is not the awesome nerdy scientist who happens to be green. He’s the confused person that everyone wishes would just turn back into the Hulk. I’m still not sure what to make of the alcoholic Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson. She is a present but not well developed character. As for Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, pretty sure he was playing himself. Which is an amazing character, but his storyline did not need to take half the movie to resolve. Cate Blanchett, while an amazing actress, didn’t really sell me as the world-ending Hela. Another case of “oh look! A villain. Now what?” She also isn’t nearly as convincing as a sister as Hiddleston and Hemsworth are brothers.
The takeaway is that everyone played their parts perfectly …but their characters left something to be desired this time, which is not a fault of their acting but the material they were given to work with.
By far, this is the best part of the movie. Some of the shots are gorgeously defined with eye-popping color and action. I love the trend toward making 3D comic book shots, such as Thor descending onto the evil minions with lightning blazing. The Grandmaster’s planet is literally a dump so not very visually stimulating, more annoying than anything. I wish I could say more about the visuals, but this is what happens when I let a movie sit too long without writing it up. My memory is dusty which means so are the visuals. All I can remember is that there are a lot of greens, blues, reds and yellows. Very primary color based. The visuals didn’t overwhelm me.
Mark Mothersbaugh has a slew of movie credits to his name, but an astonishingly few amount of big blockbuster hits. His soundtrack is well grounded, but like most of the movie mostly unforgettable. There are no truly new themes and despite listening to the soundtrack several times on Spotify, I can’t hum a single tune. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pleasant to listen to. But it doesn’t evoke any mental images of the movie and honestly, I can easily forget it’s playing.
Overall: I should have written this ages ago. Please keep in mind that this was written several months after the fact and after only one viewing. What I do remember of it was cheap laughs, a few minor battle thrills, and some genuine laughter about the interaction between Thor and Loki. I also remember for the first time ever in my life preferring a DC movie over a Marvel. Maybe a second (or third) viewing will change my mind. I hope so. Thor really is an amazing character and finally at the end of the movie he showed what he was meant to be.
Adults: If you are a Marvel fan, you’ll probably like it. Particularly if you favor the style of Guardians of the Galaxy. If you aren’t interested in superheroes, I’d give it a pass.
Children: From what I remember, you’ll probably like it. Nothing too crass or crazy. Definitely no scary villains here.