If I’m being entirely honest, the Thor movies have been kind of rough. The original introduced us to the wonderful work of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston but ended up essentially being a fish out of water story. The sequel well who can honestly remember anything about it. So, there was definitely a change in direction required for it to succeed. What was not expected was a campy comedy with metal sensibilities, yet here we have Thor Ragnarok and for the large part it’s the successful breath of fresh air the franchise needed. Find out more in our review.
Thor after returning from a quest finds Loki in charge of Asgard and his Father, Odin in exile. This leaves the opportunity for Hela, the goddess of death to usurp the throne. Thor, clearly underpowered and banished must find a way to escape his imprisonment and return home to reclaim the throne.
The most notable difference you will find in Thor Ragnarok is its shift in tone. It moves more towards Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man feeling more comedic rather than dour entries in the MCU. Yet it’s the whimsy and ridiculousness of being a super hero that the humour stems for and makes it more memorable than those. One imagines this is the influence of Taika Waititi as there is delightful sense of play that was often seen in his smaller works. Waititi even lends his voice to one of the funniest characters of the movie Korg who distinct New Zealand accent is a giveaway but also some of the best lines of the movie. The unexpected lines of Korg are probably the most indicative of why the film works.
Yet that sense of fun is carried throughout the production not just in its humour. Colourful planets designs, action sequences that look like the side of a metalhead’s panel van and even a truly psychedelic musical soundtrack seem to give Thor Ragnarok, something unique and something fun to say in a crowded comic book filmscape. Even the action seems more focused and watchable which allows you to comprehend rather than being bombarded by the usual visual explosion.
It helps that the cast is at the top of its game too with returning players like Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo slipping into familiar albeit more comical versions of characters previously played. Jeff Goldblum and Tess Thompson all seem to shine in more newer and distinct roles. Karl Urban while trying his best is wasted as Skurge and his painful stares of moral quandary are tiresome by the film’s end.
Most of the film’s enjoyment centres around Thor attempting to return to Asgard meaning that anything that takes place back there feels like a distraction. Despite Cate Blanchett’s and Idris Elba’s best attempts to enthuse us for this side of the story, the plight of an anonymous repressed regime remains a dull distraction often making the momentum of the film stumble. Cowering civilians is a bit like torturing puppies it’s meant to elicit a response, but we have never cared about the citizens of Asgard why all of sudden should we now.
The cutaways are meant to give Thor Ragnarok some sort of emotional resonance for the audience but fails largely. The film is not without heart though and many of the shared moments between the Hulk and Thor or Thor and Loki are earnest. In fact, I would have happily exchanged anything back on Midgard for more of this. So, it’s fair to say that anything small scale and almost buddy movie like in quality works for emotion, the rest not so much.
Thor Ragnarok Review Cheat Sheet
Overall Thor Ragnarok works because it has a sense of humour and one of fun. It feels fresh because it takes risks with what has been a sometimes too self-serious tone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet its shift in tone means the more epic set pieces of the fantastical Asgard are less than compelling. It’s a film that when focuses on character, humour and weirdness succeeds, when it goes grand it stumbles. Still an excellent film with some caveats.
+ Excellent humour througout.
+ A sense of stylish fun in production, music and action.
+ Both new and old cast are at the top of their game.
+Lots of heart when it focuses on character.
-Asgard story cutaways are dull and heartless despite their intention.
-Skurge is a waste of Karl Urban.