Having just left Thor: Ragnarok, my first and immediate thought was, “Has the movie’s build up ruined the film?” So today I will be reviewing the film and arguing whether the film has met its expectations.
To say that the Thor: Ragnarok hype was pretty high would be a massive understatement. We’ve seen both reviewers and fans going nuts from pre-screenings of this film.
There’ve been interviews from director Taika Waititi as well as Chris Hemsworth (Thor), talking about how this film was going to be hysterical, that it rejuvinated Chris’ passion for playing Thor, that nearly 80% of filming was ad-libbed, that it combined a mixture of New Zealand humour and Australian Easter eggs, and even that Hela was going to be a deep and complex villain!
Just from its lead up, Ragnarok had a Hela of a lot going for it (still not apologising for that). But the question is, did it live up to the hype?
Thor: Ragnarok is Taika Waititi’s first attempt at a massive Hollywood blockbuster. Taika, the 2017 New Zealander of the Year, has directed and starred in incredible comedies like Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople (I’d recommend watching these ASAP because they’re hysterical). And it was known from the beginning that he’d be bringing in his own unique directing style.
So first thing’s first, yes – the comedy lived up to expectations. I couldn’t stop laughing, and even got glaring scowls from the people sitting around me. But that was obviously because they lacked the high IQs to understand Marvel Comics.
In any case, it felt as if every actor had a chance to pull a joke, or prove themselves to be comedic geniuses. And no that was definitely not an issue.
Ragnarok is undeniably entertaining. It is fast paced, but never rushed. There is a good combination of set-up and execution. And it succeeds in being very funny, but also meaningful, and the juxtaposition between the two creates some powerful scenes between our heroes.
But the issue that I have with this film (without going into spoilers), is that it just didn’t exceed expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic! I loved the Hulk, Korg, Thor, Odin, Loki, Hela, and even Skurge, but it wasn’t “OMG this is the best Marvel Movie eva.” And I think that’s partially due to the hype surrounding this film, which lasted literally for months. Please don’t hate me Taika, I still love you!
All in all, it’s a great film to take your partner, or just a bunch of mates to have a laugh. It’s a great adventure movie, with lots of humour (if the IGN video didn’t make that clear enough) and excellent characters – just don’t take it too seriously, and you’ll love it!
How does it compare with other Marvel movies?
Ragnarok is easily the best Thor film. No one in the Nine Realms is denying that. But recently I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how Ragnarok is in their top 5 Marvel films. Now I’m not denying that, but we’d have to consider all the Marvel movies before making that call.
I came up with eight MCU films which would be considered in the top 5 category and they include: Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Spiderman: Homecoming. And that’s just eight of the 17 movies that Marvel Studios have released so far.
Now to go into an actual ranking would be an article in and of itself. But to be very quick, I have to say that:
1) Ragnarok is funnier than Ant-Man.
2) Ragnarok is nearly as creative as Doctor Strange but obviously for different reasons.
3) Ragnarok is more adventurous than Guardians of the Galaxy, but manages to be less all over the place.
Ragnarok is a great film, but does it make the top 5 Marvel films? If we’re looking at comedy, fun, and adventure, then by Odin’s eye yes! If we’re talking about being the best film in general, I believe it could compete in making the list. But then again, it’d probably be up to the subjective opinion of who’s making that list to decide. But if it were me personally, I think it would just miss out on making the top 5. This is for the reasons that I’ll be mentioning throughout this article.
Is Hela a good villain?
Now from here on, we’re going to be going into some spoiler territory, so you have been warned. Returning to that buzz atmosphere I was talking about, I do have a complaint about Cate Blanchett’s Hela.
In an interview with ScreenRant, it was hinted that Hela would be a very complex villain. Now, Blanchett explains Hela as someone “…bewildered as to why people are frightened of her.” She leaves us to wonder that if death is such a universal concept, and if it’s so ingrained into Asgard’s creation, why should anyone shy away from the Goddess of Death?
However, it feels as if Hela is a very one-dimensional character. While she is confused as to why people don’t embrace her as the rightful ruler, it honestly feels like she just doesn’t care. She takes what she wants and what she wants to take is life. However, that’s pretty much it. Kill, conquer, and repeat.
So while Hela isn’t as interesting in of herself, how she fits into the bigger picture is much more so. Hela represents a way of life which fit the status quo thousands of years ago. And it makes sense that people aren’t receptive to her blatant disregard of life when she re-emerges on the scene. Life, and society, has simply moved on. Rather than being war-mongering and barbaric, Asgard has seen itself trying to become more diplomatic and magnanimous. And that essentially embodies Thor’s development in this trilogy.
But yeah, Hela is kind of average. She’s definitely no Loki, but then again, I don’t even consider Loki to be a villain now. I think it would have been better to see her try to make the Asgardians love her, or if not that, have her internally debate about whether what she’s doing is right.
If I haven’t made this clear yet, the comedy was on point. I loved how the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) was essentially just an overgrown five year old. When he threw his hands up and yelled that was the cutest thing I’ve seen! Korg was also amazing – a good addition of Taika’s kiwi humour perfectly nestled into this film.
I don’t know if there were too many Easter Eggs, but one of note was the statue of Beta Ray Bill on the Grandmaster’s building, as well as the long suspected confirmation that the infinity gauntlet in Asgard was a fake.
Also Loki’s ebbing anxiety when the Hulk appeared, and when he yelled “HAHA, THAT’S HOW IT FEELS LIKE” had me in tears!
And that introductory play scene! You can’t go wrong with telling Sir Anthony Hopkins to play a hedonistic, Dionysus-like Loki, playing Odin. OH AS WELL AS MATT DAMON PLAYING LOKI. And even better, they got Chris Hemsworth’s brother, Luke (not Liam), known for Westworld, to play Thor in that play. And I thought it was also a nice touch bringing in Sam Neill to play Odin (he starred in Taika’s The Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
I was also pleasantly surprised to see Skurge, Karl Urban’s character development. It was a lot different from what I was expecting in the trailer, and from what I’d read in the comics. So it was a nice twist to keep comic readers on their toes. But to be perfectly honest, his death was the funniest, overdramatic display I saw in this film. At first, he’s very much “FOR ASGARD”, and he gets 20 seconds of very solid action. Nek minut he gets Sean Beaned.
Final thought is that I really loved how Thor properly became the God of Thunder. I thought it was kind of nice how Mjolnir only allowed him to channel his abilities, and that the power was always within him. I know it’s completely different from the comics, but it’s still cool so shut up.
Also did anyone else think that the way they killed off Hogun, Volstagg, & Fandral was pretty brash? They were one of the better parts about The Dark World, but they were so offhandedly killed. Also where the hell was Sif!?
And I think we can all agree that Heimdall (Idris Elba) was the real hero in Ragnarok.
All in all, Thor: Ragnarok gets 7.5 Mjolnir’s out of 10.