Thor: Ragnarok is the third bite at the apple for Marvel Studios with Thor after two installments that were ok at best. It centers around an invasion of Thor’s home of Asgard by Hela the goddess of death, his secret sister who’d been imprisioned by their father Odin. On his way to deal with Hela Thor and Loki get stuck on the planet Sakaar where they meet up with an old friend in the Hulk and some new ones. So how did it go?
The overall story was the best of all the Thor movies, and finally we didn’t get too much time on earth compared to other worlds. Thor stories are best when the mythology and the otherworldly parts are fully embraced. I know there has to be some interaction with humans, and what we got here was good and entertaining, but it needs to be kept to an amount that doesn’t drag down the rest of the movie. Here they got it just right.
The cast all did a great job. We’re used to Tom Hiddleston shining as Loki but Chris Hemsworth got to do more than throw out a few lines for once and show he’s a legit actor. Tessa Thompson did a great job as Valkyrie, so much that I hope she gets more MCU screen time going forward. And Cate Blanchett gave a great performance as Hela, chewing scenery and spitting out great lines as she laid waste to everything in her path. And Idris Elba finally got to do something as Heiimdall other than open up the BiFrost and say a line or two. Jeff Goldblum did his Jeff Goldblum thing as the Grandmaster and it worked to a tee.
I really enjoyed the visuals. I’m not a special effects snob; I can barely tell the difference between good and bad cgi and I mostly don’t care. But the everything from Asgard to Sakarr to the outer space stuff looked great to me. Same with the costumes and everything else. good job by all involved.
I wasn’t as enamored with the second act as most people. I didn’t dislike it, but to be honest I was ready for everything to shift back to Asgard. It felt too much to me like something they had to throw in between Hela taking over at the end of the first act and the big fight of the third act. It was executed fine but it just wasn’t working for me. I guess I’ve seen Mos Eisley spaceport and Jabba the Hutt’s palace too many times for it to move me like that. I won’t argue with anyone who loved it, but it just wasn’t all that to me.
I also thought Hela was underutilized. I don’t mean that in the hyperbolic ‘Marvel Villains SUCCKKK!’ way that pops up too much on social media nowadays, just that she was worthy of more screen time and a bigger piece of the movie. Cate Blanchett did an excellent job and the character was very well written, so expanding her presence would have added more to the movie in my opinion. Her opining about how Odin made Asgard into the kingdom it is could have used a few words for the people who didn’t participate actively in the hypocrisy but had no problem reaping the benefits of it.
On the ‘fun’ factor, people have to let that hate go. Yes the movie had a lot of tongue in cheek elements and a lot of jokes spread throughout. In no means did any of that overshadow the seriousness of the rest of the movie. Fun isn’t a bad thing; it’s a movie about people who dress funny by our standards flying around hurling lightning bolts and magic weapons at each other. While I am fine with superhero movies that go all serious all the time, having some that inject some or a lot of levity into the story is not a big crime.
There are some supporting characters who matter to longtime Thor readers, specifically Sif and the Warriors Three, who get short shrift here and some others who have yet to show up after three movies. I’ll let the Thor diehards be the judge of that; I don’t think those things hurt the film per se but I understand if you’re upset about it.
Gee, which rating system to use…letter grades or numbers? If you read my reviews you know I never stick to one way. I enjoyed it, thought the story was good and coherent, and I didn’t lose focus or get bored like I did with the first two Thor films. The characters were well done, the dialogue was good and the cheese was kept to a minimum. No cringeworthy scenes or lines, either. No serious knocks, but I wasn’t blown away by it either. That could very well be becasue of where we are in the MCU (16 movies in, with some big and unique films up next in Black Panther and Infinity War) and not because of the movie itself. I had the same problem with Dr. Strange. So I’ll give it 8/10 for now.