'Thor Ragnarok' Ragna-rocks! (Had To Do It) (2017) Review
After being mostly absent from the silver screen for the last two years, ‘Thor Ragnarok’ sees the return of the God of Thunder. Quite unlike we’ve seen him before. The movie opens up with the Norse God covered in chains, and describing a plot to protect his homeworld of Asgard. It should be simple work, but for the Goddess of Death, Hela. What follows is a galactic trek not dissimilar to one taken by the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, as Thor assembles his team, cutely named “The Revengers”
The most noteworthy member of that team is the Incredible Hulk. Yes that’s right, the movie may have Thor’s name on it, but there are more than a couple superheroes in this film. Thankfully, for everything that’s packed into ‘Thor Ragnarok’, the final product is a well-balanced ride.
Whereas most action adventure movies have a concrete story and pepper in a comic relief scene or two, this movie does the opposite. It’s a laugh fest from start to finish with a few scenes put in to establish a narrative. That’s not to say ‘Thor Ragnarok’ is hurting for substance. In fact, for all it’s non stop humour, I was particularly impressed with how invested I was in the story, even if the movie at times treats it as an afterthought.
As for the humour, 9 out of 10 times I would be upset. Upset that I was laughing so hard I couldn’t catch the next joke in the dialogue. ‘Thor Ragnarok’ never takes itself too seriously and begs you not to either. It’s perfectly comfortable embracing the more ridiculous elements of the franchise for what they are.
While that’s the movie’s greatest strength, it’s also somewhat of a bummer. I left ‘Thor Ragnarok’ feeling delighted, and no doubt wanting to see it again, but part of me wished it wasn’t the irreverent buddy comedy it is. In a franchise with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Ant-Man’, and now ‘Spider-Man Homecoming’, the MCU could do well with the overtly serious fantasy epic that the Thor films could have been. That’s a film that was never quite realized, and thanks to ‘Thor Ragnarok’, it’s likely to never be. The closest ‘Thor Ragnarok’ comes to giving you that film is to use that Shakespearean melodrama as a set up for a punchline. It’s as if ‘Thor Ragnarok’ was written by Tony Stark himself.
As much as I might grumble to myself about missed opportunities of the last decade, I do appreciate ‘Thor Ragnarok’ daring to be different. Not just for the ‘Thor Franchise’ itself, but the film takes an unconventional approach to how films of this ilk typically play out. There’s an A story, a B story, and then there are the multiple character arcs that need playing out. Many times the B story became the A story, and one character would seemingly be the main priority over everything else. That sounds like a confusing mess, but somehow, it works.
What I absolutely, unequivocally loved in ‘Thor Ragnarok’, was the gorgeous set design. Of course, the line between a practical and digital environment blurred into obscurity ages ago, but the fact is, everything in ‘Thor Ragnarok’ has a distinct vision behind it. It’s as if the characters stepped into an 80s arcade game designed by Jack Kirby. Funnily enough, for a movie that’s embracing how ridiculous it is, its environments go a long way to making this world feel real.
‘Thor Ragnarok’ also does right by its characters. In fact, the only thing that I would say the movie does wrong is that it spends too little time with each of them. They feel fully developed, and there’s a balance here that rivals even a more complex ensemble like ‘The Avengers’. It’s only that the characters are so rich that I wanted to spend even more time with them after the credits rolled. Then again for a Marvel movie, that’s not always out of the question.
For what felt like the longest time, the character of ‘Thor’ was never truly defined. His best moments came from interactions with others, but a strong sense of who Thor was never truly came across. ‘Thor Ragnarok’ may have the Hulk, but it’s certainly Thor’s show, as Chris Hemsworth gets to show off his perfect comic timing, and delivers his best turn as Thor yet.
Rating: Big Screen Watch