Ben Zacuto ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Film Editor
When Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige announced the third film in the Thor franchise along with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film slate several years ago, Thor: Ragnarok seemed to be the least ambitious, most underwhelming reveal of the studio’s future film releases. Fast forward to today— Thor: Ragnarok is one of the most creatively inventive and emotionally fulfilling films in Marvel’s canon. What happened? A combination of perfect timing, raw talent, and creative ingenuity on the part of Producer Kevin Feige, Director Taika Waititi, and the amazing on-screen and off-screen talent that truly brought this picture together in the most wonderful way imaginable. Although “Ragnarok” isn’t a perfect film, its child-like imagination and love of pure fun catapults the story and characters into daring new heights.
Thor: Ragnarok essentially tells the story of Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor, God of Thunder, during the timeline of events from the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron through Captain America: Civil War. After a series of events where Anthony Hopkins’ Odin, Thor’s father, looses control over the kingdom of Asgard, Thor confronts Cate Blanchett’s Goddess of Death named Hela, set on filling the vacuum of power left by Odin. Thor confronts Hela but is propelled off-world into the depths of space, finding recluse on a trash planet named Sakaar, where (you guessed it) Thor is imprisoned and forced to battle Mark Ruffalo’s The Incredible Hulk in a gladiator match put on by Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster. An escape off the planet ensues with an end fight between Thor’s self-titled team of “The Revengers” made up of himself, The Hulk, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and (of course) Tom Hiddleston’s Loki against Hela. If this story sounds nonsensical, I think it’s safe to assume that’s the point.
Thor: Ragnarok is extraordinarily fun because of the ridiculous plot. Director Taika Waititi flips the idea of what we had thought a Thor film was by making the main character comedic and setting him in situations that are so hard to believe to be true that they would only happen to the over-exuberant, almighty God that is Thor. Chris Hemsworth really pulls no punches with his new take on the tired character, managing to simultaneously perform as the film’s main protagonist while acting like the fun side-kick that we can’t ever stop enjoying. New characters such as Cate Blanchett’s delicious villain and Jeff Goldblum’s quietly neurotic space millionaire (?) play with the comic book genre in a way that is borderline self-aware, which could have been cheesy in any other hands besides Waititi. The overwhelmingly raunchy, comedic, and over-the-top tone of the film blankets any awkwardness we might have had in the change in character dynamics.
Given how much is going on in this film, there were specific characters that felt rather sidelined. Exciting cast additions like The Hulk and Valkyrie aren’t given enough screen time to fully flesh out their much deeper character arcs. Additionally, Loki is rather unnecessary in the film given his irrelevance to the main story points. Moments where we could almost grasp onto these character’s deeper emotions could almost make one hope that the film was split into two to give each unique, interesting character more importance. While these elements were certainly underwhelming, they by no means distracted from the fun of the movie. Rather, they incited hope in delving deeper into the story being told from multiple points of view, which on second-thought is a sign of interesting storytelling and reverence for what Waititi was seeking to capture.
God of Thunder? Check. The Incredible Hulk? Double check. A rollicking space adventure? Triple check. Cate Blanchett playing maniacal villain Hela? Umm, yes please. Jeff Goldblum’s swagger as The Grandmaster? Thank you, Marvel. Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel Studios’ seventeenth feature film, not only checks all of the right boxes on paper, it stands alongside the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best action and comedy, all-the-while revitalizing the tired Thor franchise and rejuvenating this lackluster blockbuster season. Up-and-coming director Taika Waititi uses his wit and charm to capture and reframe Chris Hemsworth’s Thor as one of the most entertaining members of The Avengers– a difficult feat when compared to the likes of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Pratt as Star Lord, or Tom Holland as Spider-Man- and place him in a story that is the perfect balance of ridiculous fun and thematic relevance. Thor: Ragnarok is the rollicking ride no one really seemed to have asked for, but we all clearly needed.
Overall Grade: A-
Watch the Trailer: