After people hear/read/watch my opinions on movies, I’m often asked, “Who hurt you?”
Much consideration has gone into my answer. There are few times when my inner child is able to break free and attempt to flee to safety, but I catch him and push him back into the dark recesses of my soul. I find it difficult to enjoy the sugar that a younger me would indulge on. The answer to who/what hurt me is – Unnecessary pandering movies that do nothing but confuse easy chuckles for quality.
Thor Ragnarok is the third part in the Thor-logy. Thor had previously seen visions about the potential end of the world (as he was sitting in a mystical hot tub) and now it seems that premonition is about to become reality. A new threat, Hela (CGI Cate Blanchett) has come to rule Asgard. Yet, Thor cannot stop her, as he is sent to a prisoner planet and becomes a temporary gladiator for a scene. While he plans his escape, he battles his co-Avenger,
Shrek Hulk, and finds allies to take Asgard back from Hela.
This Thor flick is radically different from the two previous movies, and the word “radical” is no mistake. Thor and Thor: The Dark World attempted one-liner jokes, but focused more on the multi-realm threat that possibly took itself a bit too seriously. Ragnarok flips that formula and does a complete 180. Instead of being Shakespearean in nature with riffs on the side, the entire movie is an intentional comedy, while merely attempting dramatic stakes in an environment that is what a junkyard and Sugar Rush Land (from Wreck-It-Ralph) would look like if they had an ugly baby.
Director Taika Waititi is a huge get for Disney/Marvel. He has been such a fresh voice for cinematic comedy in the past few years with “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt For the Wilderpeople.” His brand of deadpan comedy works on a subtle level that gets better on repeat viewings. However, the misfire here is that Ragnarok was not actually written by Waititi. Instead, Marvel literally hired cheap company men to write this movie and try to fit it into the humor of Waititi. The only differences between this movie and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are a matter of a few poop jokes and a Kiwi accent.
In almost every way, this is the spiritual third part of the Guardians franchise. Yet, that’s a major issue as this is literally meant to signify the greatest threat that Thor has ever faced. It has all the dramatic stakes of a parody of Galaxy Quest. You’ll actually see a few tertiary characters die early on in Ragnarok, which is incredibly surprising to see in a Marvel movie. However, it’s done so quickly that it has no bearing on the movie. They literally write them off as if they were all *Ana Lucia’s and nothing more.
Chris Hemsworth’s comedic chops have definitely increased since his introduction in the first Thor. He proves that he can lead a comedic feature and not even as the straight man anymore. The fish-out-of-water act has transformed to the smarmy, yet hilarious jock he is. Both Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo play different versions of the characters this time around. When Ruffalo does show up, he is no longer “always angry,” he is a sheepish Woody Allen-esque character that is afraid of mosquito bites.
Ragnarok not only treats the destruction of the greater realms with an outlandish comedic flair, but also delves into the story of Planet Hulk. This comic storyline details an ostracized Hulk becoming a champion gladiator and reigning supreme on a planet called Sakaar, until he plans to get his revenge on the heroes of Earth. In Ragnarok, the Hulk is a champion who has developed his communication skills to that of a toddler… to hilarious ends…
Being a movie created in post-production CG, Thor Ragnarok is visually immersive. The emphasis on colors and shiny things is in your face at all times. There are so many elements of this flick to make it almost qualify to be an ’80s fantasy-adventure. It sadly takes these elements too far into the parody realm of movies like “Kung Fury.”
Just when I think I should be kinder to this thing, I remember other elements it completely squandered in the pursuit of being fun. The Thor franchise was home to the one good villain in the MCU – Loki. It’s always a blast watching Tom Hiddleston chew the scenery. In Ragnarok, he has made the full transition from deceptive super-villain to charming anti-hero. His character is just that likable, so it’s a natural fit at this point. However, the transition has also removed the one good villain from any of the 17 movies. Cate Blanchett is sadly wasted in the Goddess of Death role. She shows sporadically every 25 minutes to mention her wrath about Odin and her plans to rule the realms. Honestly, if the middle of the movie was cut to make room for her character development, this could have been a solid well-rounded action comedy with actual stakes.
Look, Thor Ragnarok is an laughable comedy for all those that want it. It butchers the graphic novel stories it’s based on, but general **SJY won’t mind at all, because it’s just SO MUCH FUN. I understand that FUN(!!!) is the goal here and by that measure, Ragnarok reaches its goal. Enjoy the ride, but like any cheap carnival rollercoaster, the fun lasts up until the ride ends and then you end up with motion sickness. D
* The character Ana Lucia was killed off in the second season of Lost, when actress Michelle Rodriguez was arrested for drunk driving.
** Slack-Jawed Yokels