Thor: Ragnarok - Marvel Space Comedy Mania
Thor: Ragnarok is the seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is also the third Thor film, and finds the self-titled God-Hero (played by Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned after Hela (played by Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death and Odin’s oldest spawn, who takes over Asgard. Captured by a colony, Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to stop Hela from destroying Asgard and its people. Thor: Ragnarok is a fun, fast-paced, space adventure that works both as an action film and also as a literal “funny (comic) book” movie. It’s some good stuff.
Thor: Ragnarok features a cast of very colorful characters. No longer is Thor just on Earth trying to solve problems. This time, he’s actually going into space and visiting other worlds. There’s no Jane (she only gets a passing mention), but Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins), and Heimdall (played by Idris Elba) are back. The Hulk also returns, and I absolutely love that he can speak clear sentences like Frankenstein. Some of the film’s biggest laughs came from his slow-witted “monster-ish” dialogue. In many ways, this film splendidly takes its tone from the Guardians of The Galaxy movies (2014 and 2017)..
To add to this, we have a roster of new characters, all of whom are taken straight from the comic pages. Karl Urban plays Skurge The Executioner, an Asgardian warrior, who decides to help Hela, despite the fact that he knows she’s pure evil. Jeff Goldblum is in top form as The Grandmaster, the ruler of the planet Sakaar, where he forces captives to fight in gladiator games for his own amusement. Goldblum is, as usual, having a ball with the role, and he plays the grandmaster with his typical “ahs’ and ‘uhs”. Tessa Thompson (Creed, 2015), plays Valkyrie, an Asgardian female warrior. Valkyrie was one of my most anticipated new characters and I’m happy to report I’m a fan of the film’s portrayal. She is a fierce independent female, with a strong character arc, who is not a love interest for Thor.
Marvel villains are often criticized for not being well-developed characters, and while Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death, could have had more screentime, she’s still, nonetheless, a villain with motivation. She wanted revenge on Odin, for lying about his past, and this is a backstory I could get behind. Plus, Blanchett, hamming it up, and playing an “almighty” villain, is never a bad thing.
Thor: Ragnarok is such a comic-booky movie, as reflected by its production design. This film is possibly the most colorful Marvel film I’ve seen since Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 (2017). The art is very much Jack Kirby inspired, and the movie looks great. The action sequences are also superb, possibly some of the best in the entire MCU. The Thor/Hulk colosseum battle has wonderful fight choreography and left me on the edge of my seat wanting more. It was that good. Adding to this comic booky feel, is Mark Mothersbaugh’s musical score. Mothersbaugh, of Devo fame, has scored TV and films for several years now, and may be best known for doing the Rugrats (1991) television theme. Here, he’s scoring his first genuine blockbuster, and he does not disappoint. His score for Thor: Ragnarok, is a mix of traditional orchestrations, and as he puts it, some fun Giorgio Moroder/Jean Michael Jarre inspired electronics to represent the Grandmaster and the planet of Sakaar. Rarely heard, Motherbaugh references other Marvel themes, including Patrick Doyle’s Thor theme (Sons of Odin), Brian Tyler’s Thor: The Dark World theme, and Michael Giacchino’s Doctor Strange strings. It’s a seriously fun score.
If there’s any major issues I have with this film, it’s that there are possibly too many jokes, with even serious moments being ruined a bit by humor. Marvel movies are often criticized for their overall jokey “one liner nature”, but in many cases, Thor: Ragnarok takes it a step further. In an interview, director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows,Hunt For The Wilderpeople) stated that much of the humor was improvised, and it shows.
Despite this “big flaw”, Thor: Ragnarok is one of Marvel’s purest fun films. In a year that includes Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2, the MCU has proven to be of consistently good quality. That’s a winning formula. Seventeen films in, and not a single one have I disliked. Thor: Ragnarok is no different, presenting all of the MCU’s best qualities, while even improving upon some. It’s an absolute blast, and a movie I’m sure I’ll be returning to again.
Playing at Entertainment Cinemas Monday Thru Friday at 3:00, 3:30, 6:30, 7:00, Saturday and Sunday at 11:45am, 12:10 am, 3:00 PM, 3:30 PM, 6:30 PM, and 7:00 PM.