Spoilr-Filled Film Review
The latest film in the Marvel machine is bought to us by New Zealand director Taika Waititi, the acclaimed director behind the mock-doco ‘What we do in the shadows’ and adventure-com ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. Personally, I was mostly curious to see how much of Taika will come through in the film, and if you’re a fan of Taika Waititi then this movie won’t disappoint.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the greatest strength of this film, is the humour. When it was announced that Taika Waititi was to helm the film, those who are familiar with his work knew from the get go what he was going to bring, but the only question was whether or not Marvel execs would allow Taika the full freedom to be himself. After watching this film, it’s safe to assume that Taika was being Taika and Thor Ragnarok is as Taika Waititi as any film he’s made. It was mentioned in passing of how much improv was used, and you can tell by the humour, because it doesn’t feel like jokes were written months before, and the actors are just repeating it for the 100th time. It feels like the jokes were on the spot. The film was just full of moments of hilarity, whether that came by situational jokes or by shocking cameos. This film was just side-splittingly funny, the comedy comes from left field, you don’t see it coming which makes the punchline better. I would say that the jokes landed 80% of the time, but when it landed, it was perfect.
Another strength for me was definitely the character interactions. Every character and their interactions with each other is fantastic, from Thor to Hulk or Banner, Thor to Valkyrie, all the interactions felt important, like we were getting important moments together. None more so than the scene where Hulk and Thor are reconciling after the argument they had the day before. I haven’t seen this kind of interaction between these heroes, and it was really satisfying seeing them just connect and chat.
Another strength for me, is the tone. Ragnarok is a reinvention for the Thor franchises on a tonal level, going away from the seriousness of Thor Dark World, personally I think this is the perfect tone for Thor and Asgard.
I think the biggest weakness is how underdeveloped Hela is. It just felt like she had nothing to do that developed her or added depth, and I think it was because of the added Hulk storyline.
Some people would say that the film was too fun. But I would like to remind people to have perspective. Feige and co. have planned this smartly, because what comes after this film is Black Panther and Avengers Infinity War. BP is going to be a totally different film, and Infinity War is going to be brutal. Not to say there won’t be comedic elements to the film, of course there will be, this is the MCU were talking about. I like to see this movie as the greatest entree before the second entree (?) before the main dish.
The cast here was great, Chris Hemsworth is basically Thor now. Much has been said about Chris’ comedic ability, and he had the perfect director to allow him free range to explore and take risks. I loved how fluid his comedy is as a character. He didn’t need to change his character to be just another comedic goofy character whose there just to add laughs (Looking at you Drax from Vol. 2). I think this is the best I’ve seen Hemsworth as Thor.
Banner has been as Hulk for two years, and here he’s developed the ability to speak, like a child, and we see a sensitive side to the Hulk only alluded to in other films, we see an introspective side when Hulk is chatting with Thor on his bed. He’s a two-year-old questioning his emotions, and watching this child like brute talk to Thor was just awesome. Was also great for Banner to have screen time, because Mark Ruffalo has this charisma that whenever he’s on screen, he’s just awesome.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) can be summed up by what Thor says in this film: “You’re still the God of mischief, but you could be more.” Thor has gone through so much, and on the other hand we have Loki, and as much as Thor has evolved and persevered Loki has just remained the same, and is now playing catch-up because he’s not on Thor’s level. Thor predicting Loki’s betrayal and countering it is a great example of this.
Hela didn’t solve the Marvel villain problem for me but that was down to the story. At the end of the day, all I ever wanted was for Hela to do more. Cate gives everything as Hela, as she does for all her roles, but the simple fact of the matter is she was robbed of extended screen time because of the Planet Hulk/Contest of Champions storyline. I personally loved Hela, she is one of the most visually fantastic villains in the MCU, and Cates performance in what little she was given proves what’s been proven again and again, how Blanchett is one of the finest actresses working today. I don’t know if she is the best villain since Loki, but I reckon if she had more time, I have no doubt she would have been.
Korg, Grandmaster and Valkyrie are my favourite new editions to the MCU. Korg is just a scene stealer, his lines made me laugh out loud during the film, he is reason alone to watch this film because everything he does or says is hilarious. Grandmaster Goldblum is a gem, great to see Jeff Goldblum just go straight Goldblum and deliver his trademark off the wall quirky performance. It felt like Taika just gave him space to be him and Jeff didn’t hold back. And Valkyrie is just a straight badass, a favourite for everyone I’ve talked to about this film. She was layered and has such a great powerful arc. It feels like they gave Valkyrie so much scenes to just be a badass. Also, Heimdall has a bigger part to play in this part, and he survives.
Karl Urban as Skurge is criminally underused, but I must give props at the attempt of character development, but I was never invested in his redemption arc, but I appreciate the effort put in for all the characters, not just the main.
Just going to mention the Warriors Three because that’s the same amount of spotlight given to them in the film.
Other Points & Developments:
- My favourite scene is the scene on Asgard where Odin (Loki) and his people are watching a play re-enacting Loki’s sacrifice from The Dark World. Loki played by MATT DAMON! Thor played Chris Hemsworth’s older brother Luke, and Sam Neill playing Odin. To top it off, Anthony Hopkins looks like he’s having a blast in this scene. I was completely shocked watching this scene. It’s got to be the best cameo in any film ever!
- #HammerCam! Absolutely loved watching Mjonir knocked out Surturs minions to ‘Immigration Song’.
- My favourite new character, is Korg. Voiced and Mo-capped by the director himself.
- Surtur: “Thor, son of Odin”
Thor: “Surtur, son of…. A b****”
- When Loki as Odin sees Thor arrive at Asgard after two years, he says: “Oh S***”
- Loki as Odin to Skurge: “You had one job”
- I liked the fact that Hela is Thor’s older sister. It adds depth to Odin who isn’t just this peaceful king, he was ruthless, and Hela was his executioner. Her line in the movie about enjoying what they got now but not loving how they got it was one of the best lines from the movie!
- That moment when Hela kills off Volstagg and Fandral easily, with Volstagg relegated to just one line. Hogun fared a lot better to make up for his absence in Dark World probably. RIP Warriors Three.
- No Lady Sif!
- Loki: “I’ve been falling… FOR THIRTY MINUTES!”
- Doctor Strange’s cameo was awesome.
- Korg: “Piss off ghost!”
- While Hela’s walking through Odin’s vault, she pushes down the Infinity Gauntlet and yells “FAKE!”.
- Korg: “Oh My God, the hammer pulled you off?”
- Music: Mark Mothersbrough was so great, especially the scenes in Sakaar,
- That moment when we meet (drunk) Valkyrie who walks down her ship walkway like a badass, and then she falls off.
- Hulk v Thor was awesome, seeing them kick the crap each other for as long as they did was awesome!
- When Hulks fighting Thor, Thor tried to do that lullaby that Black Widow did in Age of Ultron to calm and ultimately change Hulk back into Banner. During this time, I must say many in the audience knew what was next. Hulk grabbed Thor’s hand and proceeded to slam him from side to side like he did to Loki. Loki then jumped up and screamed: “yeah that’s how it feels like!”
- Stan Lee’s cameo: Stan is the man responsible for cutting the golden locks off Thor with quite an interesting contraption.
- That moment when Banner was on the Commodore with Valkyrie, and Fenris Wolf is running towards the innocent Asgardians. Banner looks to Valkyrie and tells her she’s about to see who he really is and then he jumps down to the Bifrost to fight Fenris Wolf thinking he’ll automatically turn into Hulk. But he just slams on the bridge as Banner… to the hilarity of everybody in the cinema.
- Hela is defeated by Thor allowing Surtur to destroy Asgard, the source of Hela’s power. I loved this twist, that Thor and co. had to bring about the destruction of Asgard to defeat Hela. Instead of them trying to prevent it.
- Odin to Thor: “Asgard is not a place, it’s a people”
- Korg: “The foundations are still there…” Surtur destroys the whole of Asgard. “…Oh, never mind”.
- Thor is now king of Asgard and has one eye. He is leading his people back to earth to make home in Norway.
- Mid-credits scene: Thor and Loki chat about being accepted back on earth. Then a ship twice the size of their ship shows up, most likely Thanos’ ship Sanctuary.
- Post-credits scene: The Grandmaster chatting with some Sakaarians about how their revolution is successful and how he played a part in it.
GRADE: 4.9 out of 6 Infinity Stones
I absolutely enjoyed my time watching this film, so much so one of my friends had to tell me to be quiet because I was too loud when I laughed. No other straight comedy has made me do that, except Batman v Superman (sorry not sorry). The MCU have done it again, and it has left me wanting to watch it again immediately. It’s the first Thor film to make me excited to see another Thor movie, and it’s the first movie with Thor in it that made me really root for the character to succeed in the film! I left the film wanting more of basically everything, but I could argue that that’s what a good filmmaker should do, leave the audience wanting more. And although there are some holes in Taika’s game when it comes to directing, he still left me thoroughly entertained and wanting to see more.
And YES. Ragnarok definitely in my top 10 comic book movies of all time.