Thor: Ragnarok is the third installment in the Thor franchise within the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Marvel Studios; it is loosely based around the Norse religious apocalypse known as Ragnarok and follows the return of the goddess of death, Hela.
With comedy director Taika Waititi leading a new creative direction for the Thor franchise, it’s no surprise that the style of this film bares little resemblance to the previous installments. I believe it’s important to note that this film is primarily a comedy-based Marvel film, much like Ant-Man (2015) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – there’s an inherent sense of looseness and improvisational comedy to the foundations of the story.
Almost all of the characters have been modified for this new style of comedy – from Thor to Loki and even The Hulk, the comedic tones are relentless throughout all three acts of this wacky experience of a film. On top of the goofy comedy and light tone, we are granted some of the MCU’s most ruthless and jaw dropping action sequences yet – as Thor unleashes all of his divine might, we are gifted the chance to see the god of thunder BE the god of thunder. Funny, furious, and packed full of quirks, Thor: Ragnarok succeeds at making the Norse apocalypse fun; though there has been some discrepancy as to whether it was appropriate to insert this much comedy into such a dark event like Ragnarok. In truth, I can sympathize with both spectrums of this viewpoint. It’s clear that there aren’t major emotional moments in this film that rival other MCU titles e.g. the “we are Groot” scene from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) or the moral complexities of Captain America: Civil War (2016) – I say in confidence that this films emotional component struggles to produce a strong spark, despite all of its roaring thunder.
Hemsworth does a brilliant job at portraying the god of thunder, he looks like Thor, he sounds like Thor, and he acts like Thor – he’s truly grown into his character and I am glad to see his transition into this lighter tone of comedy executed with ease. Tom Hiddleston makes a return and incorporates nicely with the changes that director Taika Waititi has made, his involvement in the MCU has been far and wide and we finally get to see his character come towards a conclusion as to who he truly is. Tessa Thompson hits the nail on the head as the rugged, drunken warrior and offers up a good performance despite her small screen time in comparison to the rest of the other supporting leads. Mark Ruffalo also shares small amounts of screen time and plays more of a side role in a lot of the story, not adding much to the film as a whole. Coming towards the villain, Cate Blanchet certainly executed the style of Hela, the goddess of death with the right approach. I enjoyed her twisted wit and she showed some degree of logic in her decision-making – Cate Blanchet does a great job at playing evil roles, but despite having some motivations to her actions she sits in the wheelhouse with many of the other mid-range MCU villains – more could have been done to make her a true villain to Thor and to make his conflict with her much more intense.
This film’s visual strengths lied in its production design like costuming and makeup – many of the armours and style of the alien world they are on has its own dusty colour scheme with lots of matte and scratched worn textures throughout, they keep this very consistent throughout the second act of the film. We’re also given some standout music throughout the film that mostly timed appropriately and some that will crack a smile on audiences. The digital CGI was certainly on point when battles ensued, as Thor fights through hordes of enemies it’s clear that they were putting a lot of effort into making top quality fight scenes – where the CGI really begins to weaken is in its quieter scenes with backdrops, as they don’t use many real locations or utilise real sunlight it becomes clear when a green screen is being used.
The pacing of this film isn’t bad; it’s certainly not great either – much of the second act is squandered on certain plot points that weren’t entirely necessary for the film. A good portion of the second act could have been utilised building the team dynamic between Thor, Hulk, and Valkyrie instead of shifting around as much as it did. Some moments are rushed, some are dragged but in the end the film was entertaining from start to finish.
Taika Waititi has certainly taken a different approach in constructing this film, and while it’s not quite as serious as I would like it to be, I can’t turn down damn good entertainment value and the god of thunder beating the hell out of everyone in his path. Thor: Ragnarok is a cataclysmic cluster of comedy and ludicrous action that elevates the god of thunder to his rightful place in the pantheon – cracking both jokes and lightning at a never-ending pace.