director: Taika Waititi
writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett and Mark Ruffalo
genre: Action | Comics
released: 26 October 2017, 31 October 2017 (Germany), 2 November 2017 (Greece), 3 November 2017 (USA)
Light-hearted action films are Marvel Studios bread and butter and they shouldn't stray far away from that already successful formula. Although, that still doesn't mean that they shouldn't make the effort and build upon their grandiose catalogue of material to spicing things up or to make their characters even more unique from one another. Otherwise, we would be seeing the same film over and over again and we are slowly, but surely coming possibly to that point.
With Loki (Tom Hiddlestone) on the throne disguised as Odin, the enemies of Asgard have been amassing in the shadows and preparing its doom. This doom though will not come through war, but through Asgard's destruction. With a prophecy at play that will lead Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki to unite with unlikely friends by their side and fight the the God of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett), in what is Ragnarok.
When this film was first announced and given the title of 'Ragnarok' many thought it was a tad early to go with this world ending and apocalyptic storyline for the Asgardians. Thankfully, it is still that story even though not to the significant or emotional level of its comic counterpart. However, knowing Marvel Studios and taking into account it being a part of an interconnected movie universe meant for the mass audiences, they didn't do that bad.
The biggest issue is that because the severity of events is so great that there are very few moments were you truly feel that the stakes are that high. Never could you say that you felt suspense or in agony of Thor or even Asgard's fate. They're never was a moment were you truly thought that Marvel would jeopardize its stranglehold on the mass market with a risky play or a moment of actual drama between two characters due the end of times events they faced. Instead, it just is nonstop action without a moment to spare, Guardians style.
The film literally moves from its first action scene, to the revelation that Loki is on the throne of Asgard almost instantaneously and then wastes valuable story time for the most unnecessary cameo appearance before we get to Hela reigning hell on Asgard. SPOILERS With her arrival being played out to such a high degree and her entry so immediate to the universe that the revelation that she is the sister of Thor and Loki is not met with the proper time to be absorbed or even to be played out as a twist later in the film. A moment where movie magic should have occurred and where both characters of Thor & Loki have a moment to shine with the drama that is presented to them, instead it's wasted for a quick cut action scene of Hela entering Asgard. As if the production were more preoccupied with getting to the Thor and Hulk second act, then the emotional baggage of a hidden sister and power-hungry dad being the bloodiest conquers of the nine realms.
Which isn't bad, but in a film about family divide, betrayal, royalty and Asgard crumbling it is sort out of place if it wasn't for the light-hearted tone of the film. Not to mention that Hulk now has lost its chance of having its own solo and great Planet Hulk film. Nevertheless, the way the present film is handled is good enough that it dishes out some great moments of comedy and action. With some good scenes between the characters and enough scenes of bonding and people coming together to cut it some slack.
Additionally, 'Thor' does act like a hero and all the characters act in the ways that they should. Something that shouldn't be necessary to state, but sometimes is, due to these superhero films losing themselves in their portrayal of their characters in midst of visual effects and mass action set pieces. As they move with such a feverish pace from action scene to action scene forgetting that the characters have to act a little bit like themselves with others and play off those traits. Best part of this in the film is Thor interacting with Hulk/Banner, something that truly lives up to its potential and also the other supporting characters that aren't as bad or mediocre as you would have thought. With the Grand Master played by Jeff Goldblum being a master class addition to the film, with quips and weird hobbies that only raise the film's comedic stature. Then there is Valkyrie that as the film moves along only became a greater character in importance and stature. Main issue with her is that the drunken, tough, fool act wasn't funny, even though the filmmakers might have thought that was the case. Finally, there is Loki who did have a purpose and usefulness in the film, by not only being only a good-looking antihero, but a conflicted individual that had to come to terms with where he stands in the Asgard world.
The worst thing though about the film is the cameo in the first 20 minutes played by a significant Marvel character. As there truly was no great reason for this character to be in the film other than for marketing purposes and to prop him up for future films. Also, and while 'Ragnarok' did dodge some bullets and managed not to be the film we all feared it to be, it still had moments that defied common sense. SPOILERS ALERT. For one, why did they yet again move at a record speed with the death of characters that to either Thor or Loki would be of a significant nature. In the last film their mother died, and the film took around a 1-minute moment of silence and then moved right along as if it didn't even happen. It literally never became the moving force for Thor, Loki or even Odin to face the villain threat or to really come at odds with each other. Here the characters who die aren't as integral to Loki, but to Thor they were supposedly his best friends and brothers in arms. With Thor not once in the film questioning their fate and only caring about Heimdall so he can see with his eyes what's happening on Asgard as the plot would have demanded it. However, it goes to show how poorly Thor cares about his best friends. As your friends and family are the reason why you fight for your homeland. As they represent the first part of connection to the extended motherland. Here, he completely bypasses that step and its utterly not convincing.
SPOILERS Moving on there is the change in Thor mythology that does work in the context of the story and makes it more personal to the main characters and nothing beats having the villain being related to the hero, but how many times have we seen this happen before. From Two Face murdering Robin's family in Batman Forever, Sandman being the killer of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man 3, or Peter Parker's father being the reason why he became Spider-Man in 'the Amazing Spider-Man' series, or Daredevil and Batman that made their arch nemesis be the murders of their parents. It just goes on and on, and sorry to say this, but that wishing well has run dry when you don't fully explore the possibilities of the change you have made. As the production must have seen what a bore-fest Thor 2 was in its lacklustre and amateur villain plot, that they thought the only way to make it relevant is for Hela to be his sister. Which granted wasn't a terrible idea, but besides her being 'OP' (overpowered), what else did she really do? She killed Thor's best friends, but he never notices, never does she put Loki and Thor against each other and there isn't even a part of Asgard that admits that her claim to the throne is valid. You might say too political for a Marvel film, but at least it would make it more realistic and give her character more credence.
On more minor & nitpicky note other things that didn't work in the film. One of which is the heavy use of green screen that is noticeable. Worse moment must have been Thor and Loki shooting laser machine guns and typing codes in wall keypads where everything looked fake and without a psychical set around them. Nitpicking, but it had to be stated. And last, but not least, the weird advertisement thanks you bit in the beginning of the film. This might not be played around the world but was shown in Australia at a Hoyts theater. It was right before the film with the director and a couple of the actors saying thank you to the audience for seeing the film which was odd. Why they needed to do this, who knows? And then thanking some random guy called Mike and then making a joke out of it. Really out of place and as bad as the Marvel orchestrated intro that I still hate and believe should go to intro hell ASAP.
Many are making this out to be the best Marvel film, but are forgetting that lighthearted and family oriented entertainment shouldn't be the only thing Marvel has its eye on and that the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' vibe might be nice and work on other characters in the MCU as well, but we needed 'Thor' to be backed up by his mythology, some of the drama of the first film and the great jokes of the current film. Not a character that requires a supporting characters to pick up the pieces, and humor that may be funny but isn't what a lot of us think or are accustomed when we want to see a 'Thor' movie, at least not until now.