Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor_Ragnarok_posterI remember a couple of years back when Edgar Wright’s name was first attached to Ant Man, and everybody was excited. But sadly that excitement was short-lived as he went on to leave the film due to “creative differences”. After that, I assumed that Marvel Cinematic Universe operates on some sort of template, a set of conventions that directors would have to follow so as all of the movies in the franchise would be visually and tonally cohesive. And when they announced that Taika Waititi was going to do the third Thor movie, I was super excited. I love this guy. What We Do In The Shadows is among my favorite films ever. But at the same time I was a tiny bit apprehensive that this could lead to another “creative differences” issue. Taika Waititi, I’ve come to know, has his own brand of quirky humor and if Marvel is going to put that wonderful, quirky humor on a leash, it’s going to be a problem. Thankfully they let him have his way because I think Taika Waititi is the best thing that happened to the Thor franchise, and even to The Hulk.

I didn’t quite get into the Thor movies. I watched both of them but I was like, meh. In The Avengers movies however, I feel like Thor started to stand out a bit, to me at least. And I think it’s because in those films he was goofier and less stuffy. And I think it’s brilliant of Marvel to bring in Taika Waititi because this man knows goofy. And I think the  great thing about how he does his comedy is to put them in places we never thought they’d be. Usually it’s in intense or serious scenes. Like say, when Thor was hanging from a chain, having this really serious conversation with a demon dude who could possibly bring forth the destruction of the world i.e. ragnarok. But then Waititi puts in this comedy bit of Thor having to be polite and wait for the motion of the chain to bring him around to face the demon, it’s just so funny.  Or like when Thor and Valkyrie are having a serious argument about possibly saving Asgard, and then Thor throws this ball onto the window, but then it ricochet’s and hits him in the face? That just about killed me. Or when Thor was in Sikar’s gladiator arena and the gates open to reveal a screaming Hulk, and we as the audience are expecting Thor to be all scared and stuff, but then he gets all cheery and greets him like an old buddy! I mean in every tense scene, right where you least expect it, there’ll be this tiny bit of comedy in there and I think that is what makes even the most mundane slapstick gag work. The downside however is that the stakes tend to get a bit lower. It seems like nobody really gets hurt in the fight scenes. Let alone die. Not that I would want anyone from The Revengers to die, but there is something to be said about that feeling of rooting for someone because they have a lot to lose. But really, that’s a minor thing, because I love joke filled, super hero movies! And Taika Waititi’s jokes are my kind of jokes.

And what’s even more amazing is that you we also get memorable supporting characters instead of paper-thin ones (what was Kat Dennings’ character for again?). Notable would be Valkyrie played by the lovely Tessa Thompson,  and Korg the rock, alien creature, played by the director himself, Taika Waititi. First off I love that Valkyrie didn’t end up to be the kind of female character that is just there to be the pretty one. For one, she is a bit of a drunkard. By a bit, I mean a lot. And she is also practically a slave trader. And rationality would have it that Thor, the god of thunder, is the one who does all the saving, he is after all, an immortal god. But this time the tables have turned, he’s the one who needs to be saved. Saved by a girl; a drunkard, slave trader girl mind you. Which I think is brilliant. They do alot to mess up Thor in this movie, they cut his golden locks, mess up his face (like permanently), smash his hammer to bits, and have him just look all silly and foolish. And I love it! And then there’s Korg. This guy is a total crowd pleaser. And while we have seen “physically imposing but soft on the inside” type of characters, I think what makes Korg even more hilarious is that he has the voice of a hippie, yoga teacher. And he has totally zero self-awareness.

Now let’s talk about the villain, Hella. I mean when you get Cate Blanchett to do it, it is basically a guaranteed solid in my book. This villain is pretty much your standard baddie, ruthless and evil through and through, and there really isn’t much in there aside from that. The whole my dad used me thing she had going didn’t quite elicit that much empathy from me. But thankfully they had her played by Cate Blanchett, so what otherwise would have been a boring-i’ve-seen-this-before type of villain in someone else’s hands, turned out to be a fantabulous RuPaul-esque, imposing villain. Kudos as well to the costume designer because she looks so badass. I mean with that suit and that headdress (it appears when she pulls her hair back! It’s so amazing!), it’s impossible to keep your eyes off of Hella.

That final battle scene though leaves much to be desired. Aside from the low stakes I mentioned earlier, they do go on for quite a bit of time and would have benefited from a few cuts here and there. And when they let out that other bad guy into the mix so that they could finally wrap things up, I was like, what was that?! I didn’t buy it. I think Waititi wasn’t quite able to bring it home with that ending

But I do love the whole psychedelic, rainbow colored look of the movie, and that badass synth score. And I now have a new favorite trope, “the impending clash shot”, when in a battle scene, two fighters would run towards each other and are about to unleash their signature moves/powers? It is awesome.

Thor: Ragnarok also gave us a different kind of Hulk. I never quite thought about this, but it’s true. Nobody cares about The Hulk. People don’t give their babies to him to be kissed. They run the other way instead.  Kids would always call dibs to be Iron Man or Captain America. The Hulk would be delegated to the last pick kid. So I think it is brilliant that the writers showed how much all of this shunning has affected The Hulk, and the loneliness of being an outcast. So naturally he would want to stay in a place that celebrated him. Now what are the chances of a third Hulk movie, I wonder?

Thor: Ragnarok is just a whole lot of fun! I mean I think even the hard laughs people wouldn’t be able to resist this. Well, the hard laugh hipsters might, but they’re probably faking it to maintain their hipster facade. Go see this!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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