Ragnarok is the end of all things. It’s death. It’s destruction. It’s the finale. Now add Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Odin, Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Grand Master, Surtur the Fire Demon and Hela the Goddess of Death with an abundance of humor and we get “Thor Ragnarok.” Does this third film in the “Thor” franchise live up to the Marvel brand name or should we send this film off to Valhalla? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
First, Taika Waititi directing this film was a special touch for the Marvel stable of films. Being known for his dry and sometimes literal comedy we most certainly were treated to many comedic moments from start to finish. I knew walking in to the theater that we’d be getting more comedy than we’re familiar with. Considering the films that came before have all been sprinkled with comedic moments this particular story went above and beyond the status quo. The entire story is peppered with Taika’s familiar style of comedy and I couldn’t have been happier. That being said, there were a few moments where I thought the jokes could’ve been pulled and, just like in “Doctor Strange”, we could’ve let the tension crescendo instead of grow, laugh, grow again. In “Doctor Strange” we get a dramatic build up towards the end only to be ruined by the cloak of levitation wiping his face. In “Thor Ragnarok” we get Bruce Banner accepting the fact he needs to become the Hulk in order to save countless lives. Instead of Bruce having a smooth transition from human to Hulk, we get a quick slap stick style joke that we could’ve done without. Also, When Thor is explaining to Valkyrie what heroes do, he didn’t need to be struck in the head with the bouncing ball. Overall, I was mostly pleased with how the majority of jokes landed.
The story was quick paced. This was one aspect of the film that caught me off guard, in a good way. The movie sets out to cover a lot of ground. First, where has Thor been since “Captain America Civil War” and where has Hulk been since “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? Also, what’s been happening with Loki and Odin? The amount of backstory this movie decided to cover was impressive and I’m glad they did. The story could’ve easily skipped over details but instead we get some back story and it makes sense. Thor has been out looking for infinity stones and while away realizes that something is amiss because the 9 realms are falling into chaos… which shouldn’t be happening because Odin should be keeping things in check. So we get back to Asgard to discover that Thor has defeated Surtur preventing Ragnarok and during that battle he’s made aware Loki is disguised as Odin. From there the story jumps forward and we’re off and running for this particular film. The brief moment we get to see Doctor Strange was fun however almost unnecessary. This very limited cameo did show us that the good Doctor has definitely been getting stronger and more skilled in magic but other than that, sadly, almost not necessary. The entire reason for that cameo is to tell Thor that Odin has chosen seclusion while he waits out his last few days.
The big reveal in this film is the continuing saga of secrets that Odin has kept from those closest to him. Here we are told that Hela, the goddess of death, is actually Thor and Loki’s older sister and rightful heir to the throne of Asgard. There has been no mention of a sister up to this film so that was a pretty big reveal. Her character was also deliciously evil and determined for all the right reasons. She was not simply the goddess of death. She was the rightful heir come to take her place on the throne and exact revenge for being locked away by her father after helping him take control of the 9 realms. She had incredible motivation for her actions which made her role and motivation captivating. Cate Blanchett is in the Top 5 villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and if you disagree I wonder about your taste in story and film.
The trilogy does end by showing that at the end of the day, brotherhood matters. In all, these films are about the relationship between Thor and Loki. That is the heart of these stories. For better or worse, these two are brothers and that makes for great story telling. Kenneth Branagh did a fantastic job in the first Thor film establishing an almost Shakespearean relationship in the house of Odin. This movie continues that theme and does well on how it builds upon it as we move towards “Avengers: Infinity War.” The short speech Odin gives his two sons in this movie is the heart of a father who sees his sons for what they are, what they can still become and what they can still achieve together. It’s this relationship that ultimately saves the day in this movie as well. We find out Odin’s plan and why he chose isolation and why he’s accepted Ragnarok as a reasonable solution. He knows that his death will unleash his daughter who, for the most part, is unstoppable. The only means of destroying her is to destroy Asgard and the only means of accomplishing that is to unleash Ragnarok. Absolutely brilliant storytelling even if it’s subtle in its delivery.
“Thor Ragnarok” is in theaters now! I thoroughly enjoyed this film and my time spent in the theater. It is not my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it’s definitely not my least favorite. This film takes you on a colorful, adrenaline fueled, science fiction adventure, full of laughs (some from adult/crude humor) with the continued theme on the importance of brotherhood. We get to see Thor accept the burden of leadership and become the ruler he was destined to become but in an unconventional way. Finally, Jeff Goldblum as “The Grandmaster” has to be experienced on the big screen in surround sound while he sings “It’s my birthday!” I hope we get to see him and Benicio Del Toro on screen together. This movie has two end credit sequences. So, you’ll want to stay for those. “Thor Ragnarok” is in your local movie theaters right now. Check this film out!