This review is spoiler-free.
Going from the trailers, the initial reaction for Thor: Ragnarok was that it looked to have a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to it. While some, at the time, called this a lazy comparison, after watching the movie, you cannot get away from the fact that it clearly had an influence on the film. But that is not a bad thing. Take something that worked well and then put your own take on it. That’s what happened and it worked to great success.
So what kind of film is Thor: Ragnarok? The first scene plants the flag firmly in the ground as to what you can expect from the movie. Comedy, action, comedy, action. This was carried out extremely well with perfect execution and timing throughout the movie.
Music played an important role in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and while music is used to good effect in Thor: Ragnarok, the standout aesthetic in the film is the colour. This film is full of rich colours that Hulk smash your senses and brings life and vibrancy to the onscreen visuals. But the thing is, the colour aspect of the film never feels forced or out of place, it fits nicely with every other aspect of the movie. Jack Kirby would be very pleased.
In terms of the story, it was very simple and self-contained, with locations kept to a minimum which worked in the movie’s favour. There were plenty of nice character arcs and development interwoven into the main story that had a natural fluidity to them. Karl Urban and Tom Hiddleston had the most noticeable character progressions, even if they were a little simplistic. You always felt though that there was much more story underneath the surface. There is a lot of story potential to work with and hopefully, Taika Waititi and Eric Pearson get another chance at a fourth Thor film. Given the response and reaction to Thor: Ragnarok, it’ highly likely that this will be greenlit ASAP.
As for the cast, Chris Hemsworth is allowed to play to his strengths, he’s a funny guy, and while his Thor performance is night and day compared to his previous outings, this just feels like the Thor we’ve been waiting for.
Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo do well in the supporting roles, yes Hulk may be emphasised a lot in the movie’s promotion, but Banner is not as prominent as you may have been lead to believe. But Ruffalo handles the screen time that he does get perfectly and helps to put a relatable human face on such an outlandish situation. As for Jeff Goldblum, he delivered a masterclass in whimsy making him one of the film’s standout performers. Idris Elba’s Heimdall helped reign in the comedy when it was necessary, and while he did not adhere to a popular theory, he acted as an anchor to keep the drama going. The character that ‘did a Groot’ and stole the film was Korg, voiced by director Taika Waititi. You won’t have to look hard to see why as it will become very clear very quickly.
Right, on to the villain. The true Marvel movie weakness. Last year, when Mark Ruffalo let slip that Cate Blanchett was joining the MCU, we got very very excited. The expectations went through the roof. When it was confirmed she would be playing Hela, those expectations went up even further. After watching her from start to finish in Thor: Ragnarok, did she live up to those expectations? Well, honestly? No.
She surpassed them! She was menacing and dominant until the very end of the movie. She was powerful and a genuine threat throughout and all the big hitters could not take her down. Blancett gives a masterclass in eye acting, putting most MCU villain performances to shame. She commands the screen every time she appears, moving with sinister grace and purpose.
As for characters that didn’t quite work, it has to be said that they mishandled Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. She started ever so strongly. She was snarky, powerful and a rebel. She was perfect. But in the second half of the film, she faded into the background a little too much and you just feel like they missed a trick with her. This was a real shame because she started off so strongly. But while she got lost in the big action pieces, Thompson was brilliant, and hopefully, they bring her to the forefront going forwards.
There was also an issue with the handling of the Warriors Three, which will be in its own article in the near future.
So come on, the negatives! There have to be negatives right? Well, unless you’re being very nitpicky, then not really. Yes, the story was simple, but it worked. Yes, Valkyrie faded away, but she was still had time to shine. Some of the green-screen was a little noticeable, mainly during a clifftop scene, but the blend of practical sets and CGI was fine. This was just a really enjoyable and fun movie. It lacked a big emotional payoff, but we got a few minor ones instead, which for a film with a new approach was fine. I’m sure that we’ll get a ‘Yondu Mary Poppins’ moment in the next one!
The Thor movies have always been considered the weakest in the MCU. But it’s safe to say that Thor: Ragnarok will be number one of many people’s MCU lists after they’ve seen it. And finally, the Hulk v Thor arena fight, it was longer than expected and you should leave the cinema feeling very satisfied.
Thor: Ragnarok is a side-splitting space adventure full of action, drama and oozing with colour. Consistency is the key, and the film never lulls, keeping the tempo high and the movie progressing nicely. Fantastic character performances and some genius cameo appearances will want you longing for another film to follow on from this unique world inside the MCU.
Where does Thor: Ragnarok rank in your top MCU films? Did the film live up to all the hype? Let us know in the comments.