Thor: Ragnarok – Movie Review

movie reviewTo me the Thor movies always felt a little out of place when looking at the overall collection of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The first one took itself a little too serious. The second film was not able to find a good balance between the more serious tone and the lighthearted stuff it tried to sprinkle in. Then Guardians of the Galaxy appeared on the map. Its whacky sense of humour, paired with some neat scifi elements, showed that audiences don’t always want that it all super gritty, dark and enjoy some more ‘far out’ stuff as well. Then we got Doctor Strange, which is also a property you just cannot take a 100% serious and Marvel understood that by giving Doctor Strange a similar treatment like GotG. Now with the third movie in the Thor series it seems they have found the right balance and tone for this property as well. You just cannot be dead serious all the time when you have gods, magic and all kinds of weirdo things going on in your story. Thor: Ragnarok did that right I think. Minimizing the drama and maximizing the fun.

How do I describe the story to this film? It’s actually rather simple. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) have a sister they don’t know about, Hela. Hela (Cate Blanchett) wants revenge on her/their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for leaving her behind and being a traitor to their original plans to extend the power of Asgard. Thor and Loki didn’t even know they had a sister. While trying to stop Hela from entering Asgard, Thor and Loki get split up. Thor lands on a strange planet, ruled by a figure called the ‘Grandmaster’ (Jeff Goldblum). He rules that planet by distracting the population with gigantic shows of Gladiator battles. Thor soon finds himself in the ring to fight the most powerful Gladiator this arena has ever seen. The Hulk. (Wouldn’t it have been awesome to not have this spoilered in the trailer? What a fantastic reveal it would have been in the film itself!) A neat brawl ensues. In the meantime Loki, who is also trapped on this planet, sees how Thor is crossing all his plans to make friends with the Grandmaster. Soon they have to work together and find a way off this planet to get back to Asgard and save if from Hela. That’s pretty much the base of the story. Straightforward and simple.

The question, again, is… would this film work without all the other films in the MCU? In this case I actually think it could. Yes, it has plenty of cross-references to the other films (especially regarding Hulk) but still, it’s more than enough its own thing. Especially when it comes to the production design, presentation and music. This film really has its own voice which separates it from the rest of the films in the MCU. It feels more like a comic than most of the other MCU films. Especially with the colour palette they go with, which orientates strongly on the comic source material. They don’t shy away using strong and shiny colours that stand out and create an appealing style throughout the film. The costume design was quite ridiculous even in the first Thor film and therefor felt a little out of place since the tone was a little to serious. In Thor 3 the costumes and their ridiculousness work perfect and completely mesh with what the movie wants to be. Fun and over the top.

With all the FUN in here, is there any room left for some heady stuff? I fear not. Don’t expect anything here that will make you think about this film or a hidden message or something. You may even forget most of it within one hour after seeing the film. It really is just about having a good time and escape this dull and full of bad news world we live in. And for that it works pretty much perfect. The direction (Taika Waititi) works and makes every one of the characters shine, especially in the scenes where they interact with each other. I already said that the art department did a great job. The camera work is good enough. But the music, with its synthi style, elevates the film even more. Most of the other MCU films do not have a really memorable soundtrack. So, while there aren’t too many topics in here that will keep you busy thinking about it… there is enough stuff to satisfy. So it’s kind of the classic cheeseburger of movies. It looks good. It tastes good. You don’t necessarily miss it when you don’t have it. Does that sound a little dismissive? Maybe. Maybe not?

Overall I think the film is a valuable addition to the MCU. It embraces the comic aesthetic more than most of the other films and does well with that. It is a little long (which film isn’t these days?) but I never felt bored. Will I see the film again as soon as it’s on home video? Probably not. But I will watch it a second time, sooner or later. It is a popcorn movie in the purest sense. Maybe a little hollow, forgettable and not all of the gags work… but it’s just a fun time. Also, Cate Blanchett finally gives the MCU a villain with a hint of depth.

7.8/10

Thor: Ragnarok on IMDb

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