‘Thor: Ragnarok’ isn’t taking any of this superhero stuff seriously

by Tim English on November 3, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

One thing is clear about the third and final installment in the Thor series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re not taking this shit seriously any more. Thor: Ragnarok, based on its premise, should be the most serious and dire of the God of Thunder’s standalone flicks. Alas, it is not. It’s funny, goofy, and one of the most entertaining of Marvel’s iconic franchise.

Unfortunately, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) missed out on the last super hero punchout party in Captain America: Civil War. Remember, he went off to sort out the psychedelic prophecy visions he was having in Age of Ultron? (Something like that, anyway.) When Ragnarok opens up, Thor is hanging by his feet, a prisoner of Surter, this big fiery demon chump destined to wipe Asgard off the face of the universe. It’s the first sign that this is all going to be one big joke.

Director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeopleestablishes the ludicrous and campy tone right out of the gates by capitalizing on Hemsworth charisma and comic chops. Without spoiling anything, Thor manages to evade his captor in a highly entertaining action piece and heads home to stop Ragnarok, the end of days of Asgard. Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston, still awesome) are forced to team up to stop Thor’s sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has come to lay claim to the throne.

The real fun begins when Thor gets to Sakaar, a colorful planet that’s basically the dumpster of the universe. Here we meet Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), as a fallen warrior, hiding in shame, drowning in her sorrows. Thompson is fantastic. I dug this chick in Creed and she is a really nice addition to the MCU. Then, there is Jeff Goldblum, playing The Grandmaster, the creator of the gladiator games on Sakaar. I’m pretty sure Waititi’s direction was “Just be Jeff Goldblum.” And we can all be thankful. For further proof this movie isn’t taking any of this crap seriously, we get Krog, a rock monster dude with a Kiwi accent (voiced by Waititi).

And yes…we get the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who gets better and better with each appearance. His solo rights are tied up by Paramount, so we may never get a Marvel Hulk solo flick. And I’m okay with that as long as they plunk him in to stories like this from time to time. Teaming him up with Thor is perfect. Ruffalo and Hemsworth have great comic timing and chemistry and the Hulk-Thor rivalry is just so much damn fun to watch.

Hela would be just as crappy of a villain as most other Marvel baddies if the amazing Cate Blanchett was behind the skin tight goth suit and freaky black antlers. She’s really not given much more to do that spout exposition and lines about lies and doom and gloom, but dammit it’s Cate Blanchett! She’s also the only one who doesn’t get to have any real fun. (Note: not taking anything away from Miss Blanchett’s performance. I’m sure she had a wonderful time on set. How could you not when you’re hanging out with Hems, and Hidds, Edris Elba, even though Marvel can’t seem to find a freaking use for this guy.) But, she’s also a very important component in the upcoming Infinity War storyline. At least she should be.

Ragnarok is your typical race across the universe to save the end of the world Marvel plot, but it’s delivered with a fuck it attitude. Waititi doesn’t seem to give a damn about answering questions from previous movies or setting up the next big thing — Avengers: Infinity War (May) will follow Black Panther (February) — and that’s the beginning of the end for this version of the MCU. So this should really be a big deal. Like some serious shit, man. But, it’s like someone finally looked at one of these cookie cutter scripts and pointed out how ridiculous it was. And then they all laughed and said ‘fuck it, let’s make it anyway.’

Somehow Waititi makes it all work. And he does it by infusing insane color pallets into every scene. It’s almost like everyone dropped acid before they designed the sets and costumes and wrote the script and, well, you get the idea. And the freaking score by Mark Mothersbaugh, with a dash of Led Zeppelin, is like something out of a bad 80′s video game. It only adds to the LSD-laced frenzy.

Thor: Ragnarok is further proof that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, space…is weird, man — and everyone is fucking comedian. This is by far the best of the Thor series, and just a fun way to spend two and ten minutes in a dark theatre. Look out for some hilariously fun cameos and of course be sure to stay after the movie ends for two credit stingers, that sadly are two of Marvel’s weakest. But hey, this movie is fun as hell.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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