As a lifelong Marvel fan, to say my excitement for the brand has dwindled over the last couple of years would be an understatement. The comic books have become a disgrace thanks to the current crop of writers and the number of comic book stores closing down mirrors their poor sales. As far as the movies go, I have been on the fence about the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe since the disappointment that was Avengers: Age of Ultron. The last several films have been good but not great. Enjoyable but safe. Watchable but not memorable. Basically, Disney has created a system where they know these films will make money on the name alone, so the need to do anything truly innovative is not needed *cough* Edgar Wright *cough*. So here we are with the third Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok. And seeing how bad the last two Thor movies were, my expectations were low. Now that I’ve seen Thor 3, I can honestly say this is the best Thor movie of the three…and that isn’t saying much.
The film begins with an imprisoned Thor, who is warned that the end of Asgard is near also know as Ragnarök. Thor returns home to discover that Loki has posed as Odin and demands that he brings him back. With a little help from Doctor Strange, they find Odin in Norway but he only lives long enough to tell them they have a sister named Hela who is the goddess of death. Hela without hesitation destroys Thor’s hammer and sends him and Loki to another planet as she begins her siege of Asgard. With their planet at risk, Thor and Loki must work together to get back to their home and stop Hela from causing the end of the days. They also happen to run into an old friend and have very different reactions to his return.
Thor: Ragnarok is what you expect from the MCU these days, neither great nor terrible. One of the reasons for this is the humor. While most may enjoy the jokes in the film, I felt like the comedy became overkill rather quickly and the need to advance the story to the next punchline really undercuts any action or serious moments the film was trying to have. This has been an issue with the MCU for a while as Kevin Feige sees it as his job for Marvel to be funny knee-slapping films, even when the tone of the story requires it to be more serious.
Marvel also continues to have a villain problem. In the film, you have Cate Blanchett as the main villain of Hela, a character who is introduced strongly enough, but then disappears in large parts of the movie. Hela is given a backstory that could have actually been very fruitful if they allowed her to expand on it. Hela is Odin’s first born child who used her expertise for death to conquer the nine realms. But then he banished her and erased her from Asgard’s history ashamed at what she had become. It’s one of the better character motivations we have seen but with most one-off villains doesn’t get the time she deserves to sell the conflict. Jeff Goldblum is in as the secondary villain of The Grandmaster but honesty doesn’t do much outside of being quirky comedy.
Hulk is in the film alongside Thor and for a giant green monster doesn’t have the impact we have seen from other films. Hulk in the movie hasn’t changed to Bruce Banner since Age of Ultron leaving Bruce in the dark about what has happened the last two years. Tessa Thompson is another new edition as Valkyrie who, after a battle with Hela has spent years trying to forget her past with the bottle. Valkyrie is an ok character, but it once again not given the time to truly stand out as nothing more than Thor’s new female friend with Sif gone from the movie.
A couple positive changes to the film is addition by subtraction. Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are nowhere to be found as they have been DELETED from the franchise.
Many fans least favorite parts of the first two Thor movies are gone and that’s only an improvement. You can tell that Thor picked up a lot of influence from the Guardians of the Galaxy series and dumped in a lot of pop culture references to the 1980s to win over the hipsters including getting every cent of worth from Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. I give the film credit for coming up with an unconventional ending to the film similar to what we saw in Doctor Strange just not as a happy one.
Thor: Ragnarok is entertaining but suffers from the same problems as other. It’s gotten to the point where you can cut and paste previous reviews and change the names while the major pros and cons of the film don’t change. Thor: Ragnarok is the best Thor movie but it’s also a textbook popcorn film.
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