by Erin Hatch, Reporter
Thor has never been the most serious of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, between the lightning powers and the hammer and the super strength he has been cool, but he’s also essentially a medieval space Viking complete with bombastic attitude and archaic speech patterns. There is something ridiculous about that facet of the character that the Thor movies have never quite fully embraced. The first Thor film played off of it by transposing the hero from his native Asgard to rural New Mexico, and Thor: The Dark World played it straight and embraced space elves fighting space Vikings in longboat spaceships, and both films were terribly silly as a result, but neither seemed to fully embrace the silliness of Thor. Thor: Ragnarok commits fully to the comedic potential, almost focusing on those aspects of the film more than the action or storytelling. It is a very funny movie that closes out a lot of plot threads from earlier Thor and Avengers films, but doesn’t really turn into a riveting adventure of its own.
Since the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, while the rest of the MCU has got muddled up in Civil War and Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been galavanting across the nine realms trying to prevent Ragnarok, the prophesied destruction of Thor’s home realm, Asgard. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) rules over their home while pretending to be their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Thor forces Loki to reveal Odin’s actual location only to discover that he has disappeared, and Thor must endure a funny but ultimately disappointing cameo by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to discover his father’s location just in time to watch him (Spoilers!) die of natural causes. With the passing of Odin, Thor’s older sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) is released from Odin’s spells, and decides it is her turn to assume the throne. After a climatic battle, Thor flies so far he leaves his own movie and lands in a half-hearted adaptation of the “Planet Hulk” comic storyline, where the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is enjoying himself as the champion of Sakaar after getting lost at the end of Age of Ultron, and Thor must convince the Hulk to join him in escaping Sakaar and saving Asgard. Aside from its embrace of madcap antics and abject silliness, Ragnarok doesn’t really serve as a huge departure from The Dark World, but instead as a natural continuation of the plot… until Thor shifts to “Planet Hulk” and gets distracted. In many ways, the “Planet Hulk” storyline- while fun- feels like a completely separate story, and while it does end up tying into the Hela plot in the end, the two stories don’t particularly mesh well.
Which isn’t to say that it is a bad or unenjoyable film because there are a number of things it does well including the music and visual. Both the licensed musical choices and the original score are amazing, while the visuals include some mind-bending effects as well as a great treatment of depth if you are seeing it in 3D. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it, this movie is funny, which is worth the cost of admission alone. Director Taika Waititi steals several scenes while providing a voice for the “Planet Hulk” character Korg. There are multiple gags that earn huge laughs, from the opening moments to the after credits scenes.
The story choices for Ragnarok are ultimately flimsy, and the comedy might have distracted too much from fleshing out the rest of the film as the epic adventure it wanted to be. Thor: Ragnarok is definitely worth a watch, but it is not a film I find myself wanting to watch again.
ComicsOnline gives Thor: Ragnarok 4 out of 5 Immigrant Song callbacks.
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