TL;DR – A visual extravaganza, Taika Waititi with the cast and crew gave their all to this film, and it amazing to watch.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
P.S. – There is a Mid and End Credit Scene
Wow, what an amazing end to a film trilogy, and one of the strongest so far for Marvel. I’ve always had a kind of indecisive feeling towards the Thor films so far. They have been a case of fantastic casting matched with just ok storylines. Now when you have Anthony Hopkins going gangbusters, then even a bad script will look good, but overall I just thought the Thor films were ok and nothing more. To be fair, I think it was a testament to the quality of Marvel’s films that while Thor might have been my least favourite Marvel films it was because they were only ok, not fantastic. However, I was honestly wondering with everyone doing their big Cinematic Universes now if superhero fatigue would set in given my relationship with the films so far, but nope this film was a riot from start to end and I highly recommend it. So today we will set the scene, and then have a look at all the factors that went into making the film work. However because of the nature of Thor Ragnarok and its story, we are going to hit spoilers much earlier than we would normally do, so to be on the safe side I am implementing a [SPOILER] warning from this point onwards.
So to set the scene, it has been about two years since the events of Avengers Age of Ultron (see review) and during that time Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been exploring the universe trying to find the source of these bad dreams he is having about Asgard in flames, the oncoming Ragnarok, and the power of those infinity stones. Finally, he tracked down Surtur (Taika Waititi & Clancy Brown) a fire daemon bent on bring fire to the heart of Asgard. However, when he returns all not as it seems, Heimdall (Idris Elba) has disappeared after being brought up on charges of dereliction of duty and now Skurge (Karl Urban) mans the Bifröst, and something is rotten in the state of Denmark. But all of that is nothing compared with the oncoming storm that neither Thor or Loki (Tom Hiddleston) can see coming, for Hela (Cate Blanchett) is coming and they don’t call her the God of Death for nothing.
Now unlike say Captain America (see review) or the Guardians of the Galaxy (see review), the Thor films have not had that much needed unified vision, with different directors and writers each time. Indeed, I feel sorry for Mark Mothersbaugh who wrote the score for the film and had to incorporate the work of Patrick Doyle, Alan Silvestri, and Brian Tyler while also having his own vision. However, whoever it was in the Marvel hierarchy, and I’m going to assume it was Kevin Feige, that picked Taika Waititi to be the next director, and then let him do his job, congratulations because that was a phenomenally good decision. Taika Waititi is a director that has a wonderfully off-kilter sensibility that immediately draws you into the worlds he creates. He was the perfect choice for this slightly oddball world of Gods of Thunder, Monsters raised from the dead, and an alien fight club. If you liked Thor Ragnarok, then do yourself a favour and pick up Hunt for the Wilderpeople (see review) or one of Taika’s other films and you won’t be disappointed.
One of the reasons I think Ragnarok worked as well is it did is because all the cast were game to just go with it. Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston have always had a good rapport with each other on camera, and here is no different, but there is a new dimension to their relationship, that Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in death may have done what he could never do in life, but also that his actions in the past still haunt everyone. Also, as you can see in the film, but damn is Chris Hemsworth ripped, I mean goodness. Cate Blanchett is wonderful as the God of Death Hela, because she can command the screen and all around her with just a look. I’m glad with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) that they did not just make her the standard love interest substitute to replace the absent Natalie Portman. Indeed more than that, she actually is a deeply fascinating character who commands your attention from the moment she appears in the film, and becomes more interesting the more we know about her. I’d only really seen Tessa Thompson in the excellent Creed (see review) before this and I was really interested to see more of her in a lead role, and she was the highlight of the film for me. Now, of course, this is just scratching the surface of the fantastic cast, you have the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and his offsider Topaz (Rachel House). Yes, Jeff Goldblum is as electrifying as you would expect him to be, but more so, I’m so happy that more people get to see how great Rachel House is, she has some of the best comedic timing in the business and more people need to see that.
From the story side of things, and yes if you ignored our [SPOILER] warning before but you still went in for the deep dive can I suggest you skip the paragraph on the story, what I loved is how it was all about redemption. For Thor he spent so much time away, he left Asgard undefended and that haunts him, for Loki, he might have finally done the one unforgivable thing, and how do you come back from that? Can you come back from that? For Valkyrie, it is coming to terms with the demon that is the past, and not allowing it to control you anymore, for Skurge (Karl Urban) it’s about surviving in the now, even Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) and Odin are coming to terms with their pasts, and how some of them literal paved over their history. This gives Thor Ragnarok more thematic weight than its predecessors, and this was a must needed change. Looking back at my review of Doctor Strange (see here), which happens at the same time as this film sort of, I was concerned that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was becoming a bit too samey, however, Thor Ragnarok continues to buck this trend along with many of the other films since then. Also, like it is funny, like really funny, like the entire auditorium laughing so much that I can’t remember the last time that happened funny.
From the production side of things, Thor was a visual delight with colour splashed everywhere. There was none of that dull grey/brown colour scheme on show here, there were reds splashed on the walls, Hela has a dark green flowing cloak that shimmers, purple lasers smash across the screen, a rainbow of colours on the costumes. Indeed all the props felt real, I got a chance to see a couple of them up close at the recent Marvel Exhibit at the GOMA Art Gallery here in Brisbane (see here) and they look just as good on the screen as they did in person. Indeed as someone who lives in Brisbane, it was really fun to see the city and its surrounds on the big screen, even if they were pretending to be New York. The films were also peppered with New Zealand and Australiana, that I’m honestly interested to see how well The Kerrigans translate across the pond, or indeed if anyone picks up on some of the colour combinations. We mentioned the music before but Mark Mothersbaugh does a really great job of blending the more traditional orchestral scores from the past with a, I want to say synth harpsichord feel. As well as this, there are a number songs like those from Led Zeppelin that even hours later are still stuck in my head. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if Thor Ragnarok does not at least pick up a nomination for costume design, and the visual effects from the likes of Industrial Light and Magic are fantastic to see.
While I really loved Thor Ragnarok, there were a couple of small issues with the film, which while not major were noticeable. Firstly, there is one major missing character in the film that they don’t mention or give any reason for the absence which was odd. Also while I did think overall the effects were really good, there were a couple of times when you could see that they were using a CGI body, and no, I’m not talking about the Hulk. Also, at a particularly important moment in the film, you could tell that they were on a blue screen set, or the background had been digitally inserted, which is odd because I’m sure there is terrain like that in South East Queensland.
So, in the end, do we recommend Thor: Ragnarok? Of course, we do, Taika Waititi with the cast and crew have breathed new life into this series and it was such a delight to see. I think it is telling that there is so much I haven’t said about the film, because even though we said spoilers, I don’t want to spoil anything, I want you to experience it before someone spoils it for you, indeed, if you have not seen the film yet don’t look at the cast list below. It is so clear that everyone involved in the production put 100% into this film and it just works. Now we have just one more film before the next Avengers, and soon Phase Four will come to an end, and goodness what happens then.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Thor: Ragnarok
Directed by – Taika Waititi
Story by – Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Eric Pearson
Screenplay by – Eric Pearson
Based on – Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby
Music by – Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography by – Javier Aguirresarobe
Edited by – Joel Negron & Zene Baker
Starring – Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Taika Waititi, Clancy Brown & Rachel House with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Luke Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Neill & Matt Damon
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: na; Germany: na; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13