Thor: Ragnarok: An Imperfect but Hilarious, Adrenaline-Pumping Film
“Thor: Ragnarok” is the third entry of our favorite Norse god into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel is noted for consistently churning out critical successes unlike its DC counterparts. Though still wholly enjoyable, the Thor franchise has proven to be the weakest of its MCU brethren. “Ragnarok” is undoubtedly Thor’s strongest effort and easily the funniest, with its noteworthy approach to comedy simultaneously being a refreshing booster and a hindrance to perfection.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) escapes from the captivity of the fire demon Surtur and heads for Asgard upon learning that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) no longer governs the realms. Upon Thor’s return, the doings of his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) hit another low as he has exiled Odin to Norway and impersonated him while on Asgard. As Odin’s reign comes to its culmination, in comes the evil goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett). Disgruntled at her obscuration from Asgardian history, she destroys Thor’s hammer, forces him and Loki out to die in space, then proceeds to lay waste to Asgard. Meanwhile, Thor crash lands on Sakaar, a planet run by the tyrannical Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). He is subsequently captured, forced to participate in gladiatorial combat, and must figure out a way to escape and save Asgard from the apocalyptic Ragnarok prophecy.
With the wrong script, viewers can easily see through flashy visuals attempting to conceal incompetent filmmaking. Thankfully, that is not the case with “Thor: Ragnarok”. As per the Marvel standard, “Ragnarok” delivers the splendiferous aesthetic grandeur that we’ve come to expect from those exorbitantly priced blockbusters. But my praises go beyond exterior surface beauty and superbly choreographed, adrenaline-pumping action; the vibrant visuals exude personality that complements the giddy tone that the film was going for. The kaleidoscopic color palette oozes with 80’s throwback vibes a la “Guardians of the Galaxy”, akin to a vivid, flashing luminescent pinball machine spawned to life.
I knew from my inaugural viewing of the trailer that this film would be a comedy-laden crowd pleaser. Viewers got exactly what they asked for in that department as “Thor: Ragnarok” is a positively rollicking film; the dilating grin affixed to my amused face never dissipating throughout the movie’s two-hour runtime. Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is prominent for its astute balance of levity and sobriety, New Zealand director Taika Waititi’s approach to humor is more amiable and seems to function more effectively; it palpably communicates with the audience on a sort of intimate level. Thor shows off his comedic chops quite competently, most notably during his interactions with Valkyrie, Loki, and Hulk. Korg is sure to become popular among Marvel fans as he will have you cracking up every time he shows up on screen. All in all, the hilarity hits hard and in quick succession. Taika Waititi and his screenwriters seem to know the audience well; the one-liners are droll and the hints to past antics are gut-bustingly uproarious. Kudos to Marvel, it possesses an uncanny ability to make us laugh more than the combined efforts of all comedy films made in this past decade.
Thoroughly entertained and amused as I was, “Thor: Ragnarok” is imperfect as it is irreverent to a fault. The film’s choice to put such a hefty emphasis on jesting unfortunately mitigates the story’s emotional credence. We as viewers become so entrenched into the assorted comedic shenanigans of Thor, Hulk, Grandmaster, and Loki on Sakaar that we almost forget about the abominations that Hela is wreaking onto the Asgardians. The screenplay is a bit too flippant in its treatment of Asgard’s storyline, consequently mollifying the overall sense of urgency, which is a slight disappointment given the significance of Asgard’s annihilation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s arc. Furthermore, the script’s overly comedic approach dealt some damage to a couple of characters that were laden with potential. Take Valkyrie for example; as a former Asgardian ally her backstory is poignant and deserved to be conveyed with more gravitas. We do get an artistically gratifying flashback, but then it’s straight back to the gags. As a result, her character arc isn’t all that convincing, thus feeling more like a plot device than a truly well-realized character.
Additionally, as a Marvel villain, the menacing Hela is yet again left on the backburner. Her motivations are thinner than I envisaged; she’s evil for the sake of being evil. Given Hela’s history of conquest alongside Odin, thematic opportunities overlooked by the script include the moral hypocrisy of benevolent conquerors like Odin, and the villainous but eerily factual argument concerning great civilizations being formed via annexation and blood.
Ultimately, I had a roaring blast with “Thor: Ragnarok”. This film certainly is the most superior Thor entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not without its few notable flaws. Now that another critical and commercial hit has been appended to the MCU’s repertoire, I am jonesing to witness what the Russo brothers have conjured up with the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War”.
My score: 8/10
© 2017 Rami Nawfal