MOVIE REVIEW: “THOR RAGNAROK” (MILD SPOILERS)

MARVEL DOES IT AGAIN, TAKING WHAT MANY CONSIDERED THE BLANDEST AVENGER AND HAVE GIVEN HIM A REALLY FUN, THROWBACK FILM, THAT WILL SATISFY YOU MARVEL FIX, UNTIL THE NEXT ADVENTURE.

What Marvel has done is nothing short of a miracle, they have succeeded and triumph for nearly a decade on creating what is now, the highest grossing movie franchise ever (having just crossed the $5 billion milestone), and yet as they begin to usher into their brand new phase, with “Thor: Ragnarok” bridging the gap, something feels off and this supposedly game-changing transition doesn’t entirely click.

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“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taikia Waititi (“What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilder People”) and written by Eric Pearson (“Item 47”) and Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost (“Wolverine and the X-Men” and “Thor: The Dark World”), it stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor the god of thunder, who after wandering the galaxy seeking greater purpose and knowledge regarding the infinity stones, ends up stranded on a gladiator planet Sakar ran by Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster.

Within a few hours of arriving, he’s fighting the planets’ champion Mark Ruffalo’s The Hulk, in a battle to the death, meanwhile on his homeworld, the Evil Goddess of Death Cate Blanchet’s Hela, has broken from her imprisonment and seeks to destroy Asgard. It’s up to Thor, Hulk, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and a former Asgaurdian Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie to stop Ragnarok aka the end times.

Now, ordinarily, a plot such as this, would require a heavy and steady hand to deal with such gravity and high stakes, however, director Taika Waititi takes the completely opposite approach.

From the opening scene, which has Thor bound in chains before the evil chaos bringer Surtur, the movie is a farce or more aptly, a comedy. Something that Marvel has been moving towards since “Guardians of the Galaxy” was such a smash hit and herein lies the problem with “Thor: Ragnarok”.

At no point, and I’m pretty sure this is true for the characters themselves. At no point does it come across that the end of times is any more than just a chore that Thor and his bunch of merry men must tend to. Granted, I guess in the grand scheme of things, we all know Thor and Hulk are going to make it out alive, so why create a false sense of peril?

Yet, if I’m being honest with myself, so far this year we’ve had three great comic book films, those being “Logan”, “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2” all of which were able to endow their stories with emotional resonance and still have that fun blockbuster feel.

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Ragnarok however, even though there is some great character work to be had here, never quite clicks with the gravity of the situation the movie presents us with. Everyone is kinda just fumbling around laughing and kicking back drinks (some characters literally). Though those things are a glee to see, it’s difficult to take your movie seriously when the big emotional beat unveils itself and you realize it was a set up for a joke (admittedly a funny one though).

Now *big sigh* having gotten my grievances out of the way, this movie is great fun. Chris Hemsworth is having a blast as Thor, the first time in a while you can tell he actually enjoys being this character. The timing couldn’t be perfect either, as the franchises head into the final doom when they battle *snaps fingers*, what his name, uh-uh-uh, the big purple dude who sits in the chair?

*Googles* Oh yeah, Thanos.

This is also probably the best interpretation for the Hulk and Bruce Banner that I’ve since in their solo outing (I’m talking about “The Incredible Hulk”, not that hot arthouse garbage Ang Lee was up too). He doesn’t have the biggest arc in this, but the character work and performance is great, and since Ruffallo does double duty, motion capturing for Hulk, you can tell he’s having a blast.

However, the stand out here is, (If you follow me on social media, it’s no surprise), Tessa Thompson’s performance as Valkyrie. I’ve never been fully in love with the heroines of Marvel Cinematic Universe, aside from maybe Scarlet Witch (Kinda), none of them have any real discernable cool traits or interesting arcs.

Valkyrie changes that, she’s Han Solo and James Bond all rolled into one and it’s glorious and beautiful. Watiti and the writers give her the best dialogue and she gets, even more, kick ass and cool moments than the titular character.

Yet as typical with the Marvel formula (and truly at this point, it’s become inexcusable), the villains are stock, cardboard cutouts with little dimension, or what dimension is presented doesn’t get explored very often.

The two obvious culprits of this are Loki (Who I’ve never been a fan of) and Cate Blanchett’s Hela, who is your typical mustache twirling (even though she doesn’t have one…that we know), sinister would be world conquering villain and that’s pretty much it.

We have come to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where they are comfortable to stretch and move around, but not so much shake things up indecisively unexpected ways and if that works for you as a viewer I truly can not begrudge you and yes while this is an enjoyable and fun movie, it never reached the peak it was trying too…or maybe it wasn’t and my delusions of grandeur (Which are often), have deceived me again.

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