By Stephen Laming
The release of Thor: Ragnarok has been a long time coming. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has not appeared in a Marvel movie since Avengers: Age of Ultron back in 2015, and Thor had not filmed an update to his solo movie franchise since 2013 in Thor: The Dark World. And while he was gone, he changed into a very new character.
Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor, was, as its title suggests, a darker film. Its storyline was bleak, and it had no comedy in its script. It also underperformed almost every other Marvel film in box office sales. To fix this, Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waiti, reinvents Thor’s character: gone is the dark storyline, and replacing it is a bright and colorful comedy that takes viewers on an exciting ride across the Marvel Cinematic universe. From initial results, this shift has seemed to work. Josh Katz, Upper School English teacher, film buff, and and contributor to Blu-ray.com, described it as “Easily the best Thor movie yet,” and it grossed $650 million in just its opening three weeks.
As the first scene opens, Thor is bound in chains, being held captive by Surtur, a fire demon in pursuit of destroying Thor’s home, Asgard. The tone of the movie is quickly set as an otherwise tense opening scene is quickly diffused by the first of many jokes. Thor manages to escape his captivity, defeat Surtur, and return home to share his accomplishments. But upon his arrival home, Thor learns his father – and king – is no longer there. Instead, Asgard is being ruled by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who is impersonating their father. Demanding he fixes the problem, Thor brings Loki along to find their dad. Unfortunately, along the way, the two brothers run into the Goddess of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who is determined to take over the throne of Asgard. In a brief battle between the two brothers and Hela, Thor’s hammer gets destroyed, and he is sent aimlessly flying through the universe, eventually landing in the garbage dump of a planet called Sakaar.
While on Sakaar, Thor is held captive by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), an eccentric character who has built an intergalactic fighting ring Thor is forced to compete in. While fighting, Thor meets up with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and the two team up. With the help of some new allies, Thor and Hulk work to escape Sakaar and return to Asgard to defeat Hela.
Thor: Ragnarok keeps the viewer very engaged throughout the whole movie. Scenes cut quickly between the various characters and storylines, but it never feels too choppy. Lots of special effects and CGI are used to create the backgrounds and fight scenes, but it is integrated very well, and is hard to tell there is any computer generation involved at all. New visual effects technology was also pioneered in this film to create one of the most impressive slow-motion fight scenes in any film.
In addition, the planet of Sakaar is filled with attention-grabbing props and vibrantly colorful costumes, and Thor gets a much-needed update on his appearance while he is there. He loses his long hair and Roman-esque outfit for a more modern haircut and sleeveless battle garb. In an unexpected change, Hemsworth is also the comedy star of the film, with a stream of quips, jabs, and jokes coming from Thor throughout the entirety of the movie. Impressively, none of the jokes feel cheesy, and Hemsworth hits the mark on delivery.
Overall, Thor: Ragnarok was an enjoyable experience. If you are expecting to see a similar movie as the previous two Thor films, you may be disappointed. But if you are looking for a light-hearted comedy that will keep you excited for two hours, you have come to the right film. You will never bed left bored in your seat, and a prominent member of the soundtrack, “Immigrant Song,” by Led Zeppelin, will be stuck in your head for the next days as a small reminder of the film.
Check out the trailer here:
Featured image credit: Marvel Studios.