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Thor: Ragnarok Review

November 3, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Thor Ragnarok Thor: Ragnarok
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Thor: Ragnarok Review  

Directed By: Taika Waititi
Written By: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost; Based on Marvel comics and characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Runtime: 130 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Cate Blanchett – Hela
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner/Hulk
Tessa Thompson – Valkyrie
Jeff Goldblum – Grandmaster
Idris Elba – Heimdall
Karl Urban – Skurge
Anthony Hopkins – Odin
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Stephen Strange
Taika Waititi – Korg
Rachel House – Topaz
Clancy Brown – Surtur
Tadanobu Asano – Hogun
Ray Stevenson – Volstagg
Zachary Levi – Fandral

Marvel’s third installment of the solo-Thor movie franchise is undoubtedly the best movie adapting the adventures of the God of Thunder. Infused with the unique sense of humor and style for filmmaker Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is a highly satisfying cosmic romp that truly feels like a fitting conclusion to the Thor movie trilogy.

Approximately two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Asgardian God of Thunder, Thor (Hemsworth), confronts the fiery demon lord of Muspelheim, Surtur (Brown), who espouses some ill omens for the future of the Mjolnir-wielding Avenger and his home realm. After some loose ends are wrapped up from Thor: The Dark World, which may or may not involve social visit to a certain doctor, Thor is confronted by an ancient evil in Hela (Blanchett), the self-proclaimed Goddess of Death.

In a flash, Thor is stripped of his ultimate equalizer, Mjolnir, and vanquished halfway across the universe to the urban planet of Sakaar, which is ruled by the opulent Grandmaster (Goldblum). Thor is taken prisoner by the drunken degenerate, Valkyrie (Thompson), and delivered to the Grandmaster as a contender for the Grandmaster’s gladiatorial games, where enslaved alien subjects are forced to do battle. Sometimes they are even forced to battle with the Grandmaster’s own champion of the arena, who happens to be Thor’s one-time teammate The Hulk (Ruffalo). It seems Hulk has inexplicably been stuck on Sakaar in his gamma-induced form for a considerable length of time. With Odin (Hopkins) out of the picture, Asgard has been left defenseless to Hela’s devices. So Thor has to rally what allies he can to escape Sakaar, stop Hela, save his citizens and avert Ragnarok itself.

Waititi’s presence definitely serves in giving Thor: Ragnarok a much more unique attitude than its past installments. Is the humor dialed up a great deal? Yes, but it works for the most part. Thor comes off as someone who gotten quite used to living among mortals and Earth, so it makes sense that he’s gotten somewhat integrated to Earth culture and life, especially after working with the likes of Tony Stark. Additionally, Hemsworth plays the humor along with the more dramatic moments involving his complicated relationship with his brother Loki (Hiddleston) incredibly well.

This is easily some of the best material Hemsworth has had to work with as Thor, and this is very much a Thor movie, despite the appearance of Mark Ruffalo in a supporting role as Bruce Banner and The Hulk. But even The Hulk’s presence is a welcome return. It’s fitting because as a third movie, it feels like a conclusion to Thor’s story in many ways. Waititi has finally imbued Hulk with an actual personality and characterization beyond just bashing and smashing; and Hulk finally talks beyond a single line, which is another welcome change. Thor’s struggles to deal with Hulk also produce some of the film’s biggest laugh-out-loud moments, including a hilariously amusing callback that all fans of these movies should recognize.

The major flaws here, if you can call them that are the marginal appearances of certain pre-established characters, two of which are painfully obvious from the cast list. It’s always disappointing when the writing has to get around such a character’s absence, and this is no exception. The absence of Sif and Jane Foster in Thor: Ragnarok are not major offenses, but nonetheless, they are disappointing.

There is another instance in the film where there’s a major development, and everyone essentially ignores its implications. It seems to be a matter that is summarily ignored, and that’s not something that typically happens with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the film’s humor is really good, but there are also a couple of instances where less definitely could’ve been more.

Cate Blanchett is great whenever she’s onscreen as the evilly regal Hela. She’s actually competent, and more than a match for Thor. Unfortunately, her entrance into the story is rather abrupt and somewhat lacking in the pomp and circumstance such a character deserves. Additionally, her title and powers are a bit too perfunctory. The major issue with Hela is that her screen time could have used one or two extra scenes to give her backstory a bit more texture.

Visually, the movie is a delight. Sakaar is filled with some very obvious architecture and cues that are lifted directly from Jack Kirby’s artwork. The standout action sequence is easily Thor and Hulk’s titanic battle in the Sakaar coliseum, for which the trailers have not even really scratched the surface. Waititi does a great job with action sequences that mix together the aesthetics of superhero comics and heavy metal album covers that still look good without looking drab, dark, and ugly.

Additionally, the fitting use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” has never felt more appropriate than it is here, as part of the anthem for Ragnarok’s soundtrack. The rest of the film’s soundtrack is a throwback to 1980s pop-music and film scores, filled with lots of synth-pop-esque and keyboard cues. Coupled with the Jack Kirby influences that are heavily incorporated throughout the look and design of Sakaar, these influences certainly help Thor: Ragnarok stand out among the Marvel Cinematic Universe pack in terms of defining its own style.

While the first two Thor movies were a bit uneven at times, at least Thor: Ragnarok feels like the franchise has definitely found its own stride. If this is the last of the solo-adventures for the Thor series, at least this movie ends things on a high note rather than a whimper.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Taika Waititi delivers the most satisfying, entertaining and action-packed Thor film to date with Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok. Thor goes on an epic adventure across space in order to save his homeland, and it also includes the best film characterization ever for The Hulk. Waititi infuses the film with his own unique sense of humor along with a look and style that feels unique, even compared to other Marvel Cinematic Universe installments. The film's writing and certain characterizations and plot elements are not without its flaws; but the Thor film series seems to have finally found its stride here.