What is it about?
After getting trapped on a faraway planet where he has to fight Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiator contest, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to team up with him, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and new character Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to defeat the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett).
How is it? 8.5/10
Thor: Ragnarok is, above all, a ton of fun. I can’t emphasize how funny this movie really is. The action looks great, but this movie is still primarily a comedy. The cast is all terrific, and they are all hilarious in their respective roles. However, this constant sense of humor takes away any palpable emotion or drama from the film, and causes some tonal dissonance, as so much of the story involves destruction and death.
Thor: Ragnarok nails its humor. The movie knows exactly when to time jokes for maximum impact, and it (for the most part) works. There were several times in this movie when I just couldn’t stop laughing. It is definitely the funniest MCU movie yet. Taika Waititi did a great job directing the film and has great comedic timing.
Chris Hemsworth got to show off some of his comedic chops here, and is really good as Thor. The film elevated Thor as a character, specifically in its removal of his hammer. It shows what he can be as the “God of Thunder,” without his hammer. Tom Hiddleston is, as always, awesome as Loki. He has lots of fun scenes throughout. Hulk is amazing here. He can finally talk (albeit like a 2-year-old), and is portrayed as a sad, whiny child. This causes for lots of humor. The relationship between Banner and Hulk is explored more, which is very interesting. Cate Blanchett gives a hammy, but good performance as Hela. She has her comedic moments, too, and clearly has fun with the role.
Taika Waititi as Korg, one of the contenders in the gladiator contest, is just the best. Korg is one of the best characters in the film, and despite being a giant rock-monster, is actually soft-spoken. He is hilarious and gets some of the best lines in the movie. Jeff Goldblum is a riot as Grandmaster, who controls the gladiator contest. He has a ton of fun witht he role, and steals the scene every time he’s onscreen. Tessa Thompson kicks butt as former Asgardian, but now alcoholic bodyguard, Valkyrie, for Jeff Goldblum’s character. We learn about her past, and her character arc is pretty satisfying.
Although this movie is mainly a comedy, when the action comes, it’s spectacular and a blast to watch. The effects are great, especially for CGI characters like Korg or Hulk. This is one of the few Marvel movies (mainly the Guardians films), that utilizies color. There’s a bright neon color scheme, emphasizing the colorful, vivid locations. There is also a great 80s-influenced, sci-fi score that complements the action and humor nicely.
The emphasis placed on humor in Ragnarok does cause the movie to lose any sense of emotional weight or drama. Its few attempts at this are undercut by jokes: not to say the jokes don’t work, but the movie could have had more emotion. There is one specific moment where the movie could have had a lot of emotional impact, but chooses to go straight for the joke.
The tone also feels a bit shaky at times, as you have a buddy comedy with Thor and Hulk for half of it and a story about death and destruction on Asgard for the other half. The film treats the second part a bit too flippantly sometimes and it’s kind of jarring to switch tones so rapidly.
There are also some problems with structure in the film. The ending, in my opinion, feels abrupt. The movie’s structure left me feeling empty afterwards: Thor’s at Saakar (gladiator planet) for a bit, he has to escape, they go to Asgard, he has to defeat Hela. The Saakar part, entertaining as it is, isn’t even that essential to the story. So much time is spent at two general plot points that the movie feels shorter than it actually is.
While Blanchett’s performance was fun, Ragnarok runs into another case of the Marvel villain problem. We get a little bit of backstory for Hela, but nothing really stuck out in her character. She’s evil for the sake of being evil, without any real development. I found myself bored when she was onscreen and wanted to go back to Sakaar for more of Thor and Hulk because she just wasn’t that interesting of a villain.
Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is a blast. It’s hilarious, looks (and sounds) great, and has stellar performances from its cast. Taika Waititi did a fantastic job directing Ragnarok and acting as Korg, who is definitely a standout character. However, the same can’t be said for its villain, who is definitely underdeveloped. The movie fails to provide any real emotion and has a slightly jarring tone at times. Also, the structure of the film feels empty, as it jumps between two major storylines.