Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (Spoiler Free)
I'm not gonna spoil anything outside of anything you've seen in the trailers. I'll discuss the premise, character portrayals, settings, and whatnot in an effort to explain my opinion on whether or not you should see this film.
Boy oh boy, was I excited to see this film. I've always liked the mythology surrounding Thor and his comics, not to mention that trailer. Man, that trailer was great. After seeing it, I wanted to skip the next Spider-Man film altogether if it would only let me see Ragnarok faster. The cherry on top was the fantastic reception across the board, nothing but good reviews as far as I could see.
Maybe it's because of all these factors that I came away a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. In my opinion. this is by far and large the best Thor film. It's fun, it's fast, and I guess my biggest complaint is that it's a bit fluffy.
The Plot and Performance
Basically, Asgard is in danger due to Hela, the goddess of death, coming to take over. Odin is nowhere to be seen and Thor has his hammer shattered in Hela's grasp. Thor is put into a gladiatorial arena in his attempts to save his world, only to meet new enemies and unlikely allies in his journey to save his home.
The plot is fast and really doesn't slow down. It doesn't particuarly revolutionize anything or try anything new in regards to superhero films or anything similar. Again, that's not bad on an entertainment level but considering the story involves a ton of death and loss, the film's tone is consistently light. It's far from a deep film, but it's not required to be. It's almost more comedy than action.
The film also tidies up a couple questions, such as what happened to the Hulk, where Odin is, the Dr. Strange post-credits scene, and Jane Foster's current involvement in with Thor.
The performances are fantastic. Under a new director, Chris Hemsworth is able to fully unleash his comedic talent and it's quite good. Mark Ruffalo does well playing his fish out of water role when not the Hulk and Tom Hiddleston continues to be the epitome of Loki. Newcomer Tessa Thompson does an excellent job, although to speak of her character is fairly full of spoilers. Cate Blanchett does an excellent job as the villain with all the attitude and aggression as you might as expect from an actress as acclaimed as she is.
Also, Jeff Goblum plays exactly as you expect him to, whether you're a fan or not.
Before all other Marvel films, I've always thought that the Thor films had the strongest visuals. Asgard is practically a city of gold and everyone is dressed to the nines all the time. Most costumes are unique , the Bifrost is a eye-catching bridge of prismatic colors, and it always seems that there's an entire world out there just past what can be seen just from the plot of the current film.
This might be the least amount of time we see Asgard itself, but this film's other primary setting, Sakaar, has a lot more strength than Earth or the 'Dark World.' We've got tons of aliens on par with Star Wars that are literally made for that one scene, a lot of grid-like pairing of red and white, all while carrying the background of a kind of palace amidst a trash-land. It all feels fresh and purposeful and it just looks good, plain and simple.
Cate Blanchett plays Hela who is the first major Marvel villain put to the big screen (so television series don't count). As far as Marvel villains go, I'd say she is one of the better ones. She has a connection to the main characters, Thor's strength is actively challenged by her own, she has her own distinct visual flair, and her character isn't stupid. She's got sass and exudes control and confidence and her visuals with a menacing green and black, as well as her weapons of choice, cause her to stand in a league all her own in this film.
Sadly, as Marvel villains still go, there's a lot of potential unrealized, perhaps for the sake of keeping the plot going. In the grand scheme of things, she may very well be forgettable. Definitely not as forgettable as the Dark Elf Malakith or that Frost Giant King, but to the average movie goer unfamiliar with the comics, she might not be at the forefront of their minds when they hear 'Marvel villain.'
Again, Cate Blanchett owns the role and is a force to be reckoned with while onscreen, but I just can't help but feel there could have been more done with her.
The Trailer and Expectations
As mentioned before, this trailer was wildly fantastic. Many compared to Guardians of the Galaxy but as one of the more consistently fantastic franchises of Marvel, I found it hard to complain. It was an ultimate fan service trailer relying on what makes this film so great, the visuals and characters. While there's about as much music from the trailer in the film, meaning there's maybe a song or two of the electronic feature in the actual music itself.
Also, there's a bit of features in the trailer that are substantially tweaked for the final version of the film. Granted, this happens from movie trailer to movie trailer but I don't believe I've ever seen it done in such a sizable way before. This isn't me complaining mind you, but I found my expectations based on the trailers a bit off which made those specific moments a little more enjoyable for whatever reason.
Other Assorted Musings
Jaime Alexandra, who plays Sif, had scheduling conflicts with her show Blindspot and was unable to join this film, which is kind of a bummer since I always considered her underutilized in the previous Thor films. Also, I'm a huge fan of Karl Urban in nearly anything he performs in but this role he plays feels like a 2D cutout with about two characteristics.
It's what you expect of Marvel films. At worst, you get some Hulk butt played for laughs, there's some comparatively light profanity, a good amount of violence, and a lot of deaths that aren't bloody. There are also some jokes about another character having orgies but nothing of the sort is shown.
Thor: Ragnarak is a good movie, the best Thor film, and a strong showing in the MCU. It's not as good as I hoped it was admittedly and I feel a lot of potential was untapped in favor of the comedic bits, which were genuinely funny. It doesn't feel like it's going to be doing much in the grand scheme of things for the MCU but it also doesn't feel like it's wrapping up any significant threads present in the first two Thor films. It's still worth seeing in theaters but you may not be missing a lot if you choose to wait to watch it in your own home.
- Best Thor film to date in my opinion
- Comedy rivals the action
- Fast paced
- Lacks a bit of emotional connection
- Aesthetically pleasing, good to great performances
- A lot of elements feel a bit underutilized