Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Karl Urban
I’m going to start this review by being totally honest. I have the hots for Thor (a.k.a. Chris Hemsworth). Even though the movies haven’t been Marvel’s best (Thor: The Dark World is arguably the worst in the MCU canon), I’ve always enjoyed Chris Hemsworth’s depiction of Thor. Maybe it’s his bulging muscles, maybe it’s Hemsworth’s chiselled features, maybe it’s his outfit, maybe it’s his luxuriously long golden locks (it’s not)… Whatever it is, I find Thor irresistible. I think it might have something more to do with the charming naivety Hemsworth gives the character. He’s just really likeable.
That said, Thor was never really given the movie he deserved, yet I’m delighted to report that Thor: Ragnarok is exactly the Thor movie we’ve been waiting for and the one that both Chris Hemsworth and the character deserved. In my eyes, Thor: Ragnarok solidifies Thor’s position as one of the more intriguing Avengers who thoroughly deserves his own standalone movies.
Hela, the goddess of death, has invaded Asgard! And you and I had a fight.
A lot of credit has to go down to Hemsworth himself and his director, Hunt For the Wilderpeople’s Taikia Waititi, who is a real breath of fresh air to the Marvel movie franchise. Much like James Gunn before him, Waititi has his own unique style and has a proven track record of making both hilarious and poignant movies. Waititi is a big reason why Thor: Ragnarok works so well. His beautiful sense of humour is all over this film, as is Chris Hemsworth’s, who’s proving time and time again that he’s one of the funniest actors working in Hollywood today. His comedic timing is really quite exquisite.
Now onto the film’s plot. Thor: Ragnarok starts off with Thor locked up in a cage suspended in mid-air in what looks to be the inside of a volcano. This all results in him fighting a great big fire demon, known as Surtur, who wants to start Ragnarok which is a prophesy predicting the destruction of Asgard. Thor defeats this demon and takes his crown back to Asgard where he subsequently ousts his father Odin as actually being his brother Loki in disguise (you would understand this plot point if you had watched Thor: The Dark World’s post-credit scene). Loki then reveals that he had exiled their father on Earth and the two of them go back to collect him.
We’re the same, you and I. We’re just a couple of hotheaded fools.
They end up finding Odin (thanks to Doctor Strange) in Norway and then a bunch of stuff happens that I don’t want to reveal here for fear of spoilers. Let’s just say that Cate Blanchett’s Hela is involved and she is one mean lady.
Let me begin by saying that Thor: Ragnarok is hands down the best Thor movie which, in my mind, is no mean feat since I hold Kenneth Branagh’s first Thor movie in high regard. It was a good introduction to the character who was let down by a poor sequel. He certainly hasn’t been let down here. Thor: Ragnarok is a funny, witty, charming, colourful and heartfelt movie. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is more stripped back in this movie than ever before – he literally has his hair cut off in what is one of the film’s most memorable scenes – and he’s all the better for it.
Thor finds himself without his legendary hammer, Mjölnir, which was a masterstroke because it allows us to see the real hero behind the weapon and proves that the God of Thunder is so much more than just a buff man waving a hammer around. This film also allows us to see the development of Thor and Loki’s relationship, which is as complicated as ever, yet Ragnarok shows a different side to Tom Hiddleston’s Trickster and this, in turn, gives the actor a whole lot more to play with. That said, he does look a bit like The Room’s Tommy Wiseau at some points, especially when he’s in an all black suit.
Another one of the film’s strong points is Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who can finally speak in full sentences. Hulk is one of Marvel’s most difficult characters to tackle, yet this film demonstrates that Ruffalo’s depiction of the big green monster is better than any other and that he and Marvel have really come to understand how to address the Hulk. Pitting him alongside Thor is genius since the characters are so compatible, as are Hemsworth and Ruffalo who seem to share a bit of a bromance both on and off screen.
As well as expanding upon characters we have come to know quite well over the course of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok also introduces us to new protagonists that hold much potential for the future. I’m talking of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and rather surprisingly Taikia Waititi’s Korg who was a real highlight for me. They are all wonderful in their respective roles and Goldblum as the Grandmaster was a brilliant bit of casting. You can just tell how much fun he’s having with the character. I can watch Goldblum strut his stuff all day and Waititi just let him run wild as the Grandmaster. Waititi also voiced Korg, who adds to the picture’s hilarity with his deadpan delivery and brutally honest nature.
I have to get off this planet…
Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is another welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero lineup. Her character certainly gives Thor a run for his money. That said, her British accent did feel a bit false at times, but that’s a very small gripe in what was overall a well-accomplished performance. And who knows of an Amercian actor that can really do a British accent anyway? I’m honestly asking. I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
I haven’t even mentioned how good Cate Blanchett was as Hela, who’s ‘Hela’-awesome (apologies). Marvel movies have suffered from poor villains in the past, and even though this film isn’t really about its villain, it has a very good one in Hela. Blanchett is obviously having a ball in the role and I would have liked to have seen more of her. Hopefully, we will get to see her again in the future. She might end up having something to do with Thanos further down the line.
It’s main event time. And now, I give you your Incredible…
That said, even though this film is chocked full of jokes, colour, great set pieces and even better music, it by no means reinvents the wheel as far as superhero movies are concerned. We have seen this sort of this before from James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Yet, what it does do is demonstrate that a Thor standalone movie is still relevant in the MCU, and I’m excited to see what’s next for the God of Thunder. I just hope they keep the Thor movies in space because that’s where he’s at his best. Not on Earth, but travelling around the galaxy, helping those in need and stopping monsters and demons from destroying everything. Who knows, maybe he could team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy at some point.