Thor Ragnarok review: Thor returns for the third movie in the series, a hugely comedic effort to rival all of the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This one could be the best yet.
Thor Ragnarok review by Paul Heath.
2017 has been a wonderful year for superheroes. The DCEU have managed to redeem themselves with the box-office juggernaut that was Wonder Woman back in the summer, and Marvel has kicked things off nicely with the hilarious Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 in April, closely followed by Spider-Man: Homecoming a couple of months later. The studio rounds things off for 2017 with Thor: Ragnarok, the tricky third movie in a series that stumbled a little with the previous release Thor: The Dark World.
Well, this time Marvel has brought Taika Waititi, the genius that brought us the likes of vampire comedy What We See In The Shadows and the outstanding Hunt For The Wilderpeople to the screen. While those movies are dazzling in their brilliance, the choice to use him as the director on this big-budget extravaganza, there’s no denying that it’s quite the step up in scale compared to his previous. The thing with Thor: Ragnarok though, is that his involvement makes the film what it is – one of the funniest, astounding motion pictures of the year so far.
We pick up the story after the events of Doctor Strange, which, as you’ll remember featured Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder in the post-credits scene. We back-track just slightly though, and find our hero returning to his native Asgard to find his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) still alive, and reveling in re-enactments of him and his brothers’ previous exploits against one another –performances staged very much in his favor by some random ‘professional actors’. One thing missing from their world is Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins), and with the help of Loki, Thor ventures off to present day New York to start the hunt for him. It is here where he meets Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a scene which contains the segment seen in his stand-alone movie from last year. Strange gives them some pointers, so off they go in search of their dad.
Meanwhile, there’s a huge threat headed their way – the horned villain of the piece Hela, played devilishly by Cate Blanchett. She’s after their homeland, the kingdom of Odin, and will do absolutely everything to get her hands on it, including recruiting the help of Karl Urban’s franchise newcomer Skurge – a shaven-headed fella with a cockney accent that rivals Ray Winstone’s.
The adventure takes us on a journey to various other worlds, including an intergalactic, psychedelic planet where we spend most of the movie, one that is headed up by Jeff Goldblum’s rather eccentric Grandmaster, a very well-written character created back from the late 1960s – a seven-foot tall being who is part 80’s-throwback, part-Roman emperor with a penchant for grandiose gladiatorial tournaments.
We could go into more detail, but it would spoil the experience of the film – you really are best off going in with as little detail as possible. One thing that we can say, is that the film very much fits into the world of Guardians Of The Galaxy in terms of its tone, rather than the first two movies in the series. The movie borders on parodying the previous efforts, but thankfully just about stays within the boundaries of acceptability. There are countless gags in virtually every scene, and it’s easy to see why Waititi was recruited to bring the film to the screen. Eric Pearson, and Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost may be credited for the film’s screenplay, but you can easily pick out Waititi-isms and his unique brand of humour we’ve enjoyed in his magnificent work previously.
This is most evident with the role of Korg, voiced by Waititi himself, a citizen of Sakaar, and slave to the Grandmaster’s Empire, lurking in the bowls of the Coliseum where his epic battles take place. It is here where Korg prepares Thor – who eventually rolls up on his search – to take on the mysterious champion of champions in the arena. Recent trailers have revealed who this is, so I feel that I’m not giving away spoilers here to say that this is when Thor is reunited with Hulk (a returning Mark Ruffalo), the absent character from last year’s Captain America: Civil War, who is easily one of the best things about this new movie. He absolutely smashes it in every scene.
Blanchett is a worthy villain – with a twist – deliciously bringing a unique, much-welcomed female villain to the universe, and Goldblum too – who is also verging on villainy – is equally as good as the Grandmaster. I just hope we get to see more of him in future movies.
The supporting cast is excellent, including the returning Hiddleston and newbie Urban, but Tessa Thompson almost steals the show as Valkyrie, an alcohol-swigging warrior so well written and performed throughout.
Taika Waititi has his stamp all over Thor: Ragnarok, and you must take your hat off to Marvel allowing the talented filmmaker the freedom and opportunity make the movie his way. If you thought the Guardians Of The Galaxy films were the funny flicks in the Marvel universe, think again, as Thor Ragnarok is the most comedic Marvel film yet, and an absolute crowd-pleaser with not one ounce of fat throughout.
Make no mistake, Thor Ragnarok is not only one of the best blockbusters of the year, but one of the best Marvel movies of the last ten years. It’s undeniably smashing.
Thor Ragnarok review by Paul Heath, October 2017.
Thor Ragnarok is released in UK cinemas on 24th October 2017.