By Nic Macotto, Staff Writer
4 = Great; 3 = Good; 2 = Fair; 1 = Poor; 0 = Ooh, let’s not go there
Star Rating: 3/4
In terms of a feature length film, “Thor: Ragnarok” is like going to a comedy club for a night while getting a little more than expected. Since this is another Marvel Studios production, you probably expect some exciting action sequences and a good time. This installment in the trilogy of the beloved god of thunder is definitely an improvement over its predecessor, “Thor: The Dark World” (2013). It may not be the finest superhero movie ever made, but it definitely stands out.
After the ending of “The Dark World”, which probably had you scratching your heads due to so many unanswered questions, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) clears things up by discovering his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is missing. After returning to his homeworld of Asgard, Thor deduces that his adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has been impersonating him so he could rule the land. Thor then forces him to find Odin. With the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch in a nice cameo) on Earth, the dysfunctional pair find Odin in Norway.
Odin reveals to his sons that Hela (Cate Blanchett), his firstborn child who he banished, will soon come to take over Asgard. Instantly though, she appears behind them and destroys Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Thor and Loki try to escape but Hela intervenes. Thor winds up on the planet Sakaar. Taken prisoner by a woman known as Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), Thor is forced to fight in a gladiator match against the Grandmaster’s (Jeff Goldblum) champion to save Asgard from Hela. After getting his cut off, he learns the Grandmaster’s champion is the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who hasn’t been seen in two years.
Taika Waititi takes over as director from Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor, and brings out more from everyone on the crew. His shift in tone is somewhat of a departure if you compare it to Branagh’s seriousness back in the 2011 Thor film.
In addition to the technical side, the visuals feel as if they have improved. Javier Aguirresarobe’s cinematography makes this movie beautiful to look at in many shots. The use of color shines brightly and makes it particularly resonating. The visual effects are also extravagant. They contribute to the action sequences, like any other movie of this medium, which evoke the same kind of feelings you probably have when you see a scene from a Star Wars film.
Everything you hear also contributes to the quality of the final product. The score from Mark Mothersbaugh has many moments that add to the excitement of the scenes. With regards to the music though, you’ll probably wonder why a Led Zeppelin song is in the movie. The lyrics may be perfect for the narrative, but it does seem a bit weird to include it. Regardless, it adds some level of enjoyment.
With the most special aspects of “Thor: Ragnarok” covered, you’re probably wondering about the acting. Everyone is well-suited for their roles and rather casual in their character’s shoes – especially Cate Blanchett, who is delightfully devilish in her portrayal – but everyone else is too casual in their performances.
The film also missed some opportunities. It could’ve gone a little deeper into the internal struggles of a couple of the characters. There also aren’t too many messages conveyed. Only one topic is at the center, which is one that all superhero movies attempt to bring up: heroism. What separates “Thor: Ragnarok” from others is the idea that real heroes take real risks. That is what makes this movie a keeper.
Before you go see it, here’s a warning: it may seem somewhat confusing at first, but if you think about it, everything fits together like a puzzle. This movie provides us with a surprise here and there, a good antagonist, reasonable stakes for its heroes, strong work behind the camera and laugh after laugh. Comedy is something anyone can appreciate but you need to be careful with how it’s presented. Luckily, “Thor: Ragnarok” was.
Illustration by Mary Jane DeCarlo