Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban
I’m not wholly sure if my senses have recovered from watching Thor: Ragnarok, but the real world sure does look grey by comparison.
Taika Waititi has crafted the natural climax of Marvel’s cosmic plotline*, managing to embrace that technicolor Buck Rogers aesthetic more completely than James Gunn did in two Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Make no mistake, Thor: Ragnarok is utterly ridiculous in the way it smashes up science fiction and fantasy like the Abramsverse Star Trek and the Hobbit had a baby then fed it LSD till it ran away as a moody teenager and watched a lot of 80s sci-fi like Krull and Buck Rogers to find itself.
It’s probably chock full of plot holes or things that pedants can poke holes in but the thing is, it’s so… GLORIOUS that I just don’t care.
It starts out strong, has some genuine feels and pretty much doesn’t stop the whole way through. It doesn’t drag, apart from the big final fight scene feeling a tiny bit too long (but still pleasantly well short of the overlong ‘what is even happening now’ nonsense we’re getting used to in big-budget movies) and the jokes and touching bits balance the action well.
Every main character has a pleasing plot arc, everyone’s actions make sense and almost all have a worthwhile resolution, with the caveat that at least some of these stories must continue in Infinity War.
In general, the film looks fantastic and manages to do so without the overly slick sheen that I feel took away from Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
The tangible change of tone between Asgard, Earth, and Sakaar is nicely done and there are a handful of shots in the film that are simply beautiful. What’s more, they didn’t all make it into the trailer and the ones that did were edited to remove significant details.
Yep, the trailers weren’t nearly as spoilery as you thought.
While this film feels relatively lightweight in the terms of the development of the MCU compared to the likes of Civil War or Age of Ultron – the potential loss of a whole realm notwithstanding – there are a few moments (the mid-credits scene certainly) which will likely be important in the big crossover movie.
As to the acting, Hemsworth is eminently comfortable as Thor now, although I do sometimes feel that he’s increasingly playing him (or directed to play him) as jovial Surfer Thor and we’ve lost a little of the gravity that Branagh’s direction in the first movie had.
Likewise, Hiddelston IS Loki, but he isn’t given quite as much to work with as in previous movies although he does still have a few moments and lines that are simply outstanding. There is one joke especially that I expect took a great many takes before he managed to say the line without cracking up.
The real stars are Cate Blanchett as Hela and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie who both steal every scene they’re in.
Blanchett’s delivery and reactions absolutely sell her as the vindictive Goddess of Death and the character is actually given pretty fully fledged motivations which is a significant improvement on Marvel’s usually flimsy treatment of their villains.
Thompson’s character arc is at the centre of the movie and she carries that load with aplomb, kicking ass and drinking like I only thought I could in my 20s. There is a hint of queerbaiting at one point regarding her character and I’m not sure how I feel about that but you can decide for yourself.
The supporting cast do their jobs well with special note going to Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster and get the feeling that he didn’t even really have a script, aside from directions like ‘Thor & Loki talk, Jeff acts weird and this leads to X…’ which produces some funny moments.
It’s worth saying that the front & centre nature of nuanced and capable female characters and relative visibility of people of colour are a good thing. You would expect places like Asgard & Sakaar to be pretty diverse, and they are so that’s good. More of this please.
All in all, Thor: Ragnarok was a fun, kinda silly technicolour sci-fi/fantasy mashup that more than lived up to my expectations. Go see it.
Now listening to: Twilight of the Thunder God – Amon Amarth