As it has now been over a week since the release of Thor: Ragnarok, here is the long overdue written version of my review. If you haven’t already listened to episode 56, be advised there are spoilers and will be here after the picture.
Thor: Ragnarok is the 3rd film in the Thor series for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And the 5th time we’ve seen Chris Hemsworth play Thor. We have not seen him or Hulk(Mark Ruffalo) since Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The film finds Thor reuniting with Hulk on an alien planet, as he must get home to Asgard to defend it from his sister Hela(Cate Blanchett). This time around Marvel went ambitious hiring Taika Waititi as the director. His resume does not say superhero franchise director at all. He is most know for smaller comedic work, like the quirky horror mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows.
However, after the failure of Thor: Dark World (easily the worst of the 17 MCU films so far), they felt like the character needed an injection of humor. Their gamble…paid off. Waititi directed a wonderfully fun film, which did not lack in action sequences either. Not to mention of the best new characters introduced was also voiced by him, Korg. He is very quotable, (“Another day, another Doug”) and provided a nice bit of comic relief on the alien planet Sakaar where Thor must first battle Hulk before they can escape to try to save Asgard.
There were 4 other new additions to the series that all paid off. Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) was perfect as Hela. Never did you doubt her as a formidable villain because she was a woman. Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) played The Grandmaster, the eccentric ruler of Sakaar. He was hilarious and believable as the brother to Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector from The Guardians of the Galaxy. Tessa Thompson (Creed) is a relatively new face, but was great as Valkyrie. I look forward to her return as another tough female character in Avengers: Infinity War. And last but not least was the always awesome Karl Urban (Dredd) as Scurge. He was funny, with quotable moments, (“Tex Ahss”, “Des and Troy”) and had a great character arc walking the line of good and evil similarly to Loki, with a bit of redemption in the end.
The only negative I can speak of were the scenes with Doctor Strange. I just felt they were unnecessary and an attempt to link the films via post credit sequences. If you took out his scenes, and Thor and Loki’s short trip to New York, the film really wouldn’t change, and if anything it would be an improvement by cutting down the over 2 hour runtime.
The 3 main characters in the film were just as good as we have come to expect from Marvel films. Loki was his usual self, although I felt like some of his motivations and easy ability to flip flop between helping his brother or just being selfish, weren’t explained enough. Tom Hiddleston has played the role great throughout the MCU, but here I just felt like why would Thor include him at all? Thor went through a little bit of a character change in this 3rd film. He gets a haircut from Stan Lee, and loses his hammer and eye thanks to Hela. Although the changes were good for the series. It reinvigorated the character who was coming off a weak second film. I have never been so excited to see a part 3 in a film series, and have never rushed to see a Thor film. The chances they took here showed in the promotional material and drove me, and many others, back to support Thor. The Hulk also went through an interesting change here as we see him using more language than ever before. This is really the closest we have gotten to a stand alone Hulk story in the MCU, as they adapted a lot of a famous comic storyline, Planet Hulk. Banner has been Hulk so long at this point that he has evolved. Ruffalo plays the part here admirably, but I am in the minority as someone who isn’t a huge fan of his as Banner. He’s not bad, but I would rather just see Hulk all the time. Idris Elba also returned, while not a main character, he is always great when on screen and a criminally underused part of the Marvel universe.
Other great parts of the film for me were the use of music. Marc Mothersbaugh of Devo provided a retro synth score( similar to his work on The Lego Movie), and Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song inclusion was part of what really sold the trailer. It was used twice in the film also, during great action sequences. There was also a nice little nod when they used Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka while Thor was being introduced to The Grandmaster. Waititi went with a retro, almost 80’s vibe for the whole film, from the use of the graphics in the credits, to the bright colors, and even the buddy cop vibe of Hulk and Thor’s interactions. 80’s nostalgia, (huge right now with things like Stranger Things) and comedy has worked so well for Marvel before with Guardians, why not go there again? Speaking of which, the theatre scene on Asgard was one of the best uses of cameos I have seen in any film. How did they keep it quiet that Matt Damon was in this film?! He was great in his small scene as Loki, as was Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) as Odin, and Chris Hemsworth’s real brother Luke (Westworld) played Thor. Yet another great example of how the comedy in this film worked so well.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out Thor: Ragnarok. I would easily put it in my top 5 Marvel films ever made. You will not be disappointed.