I have absolutely no problem with Disney churning out Marvel (or Star Wars) films as long as the quality is up to scratch. Thankfully, they are indeed on point with this third and possibly final Thor movie.
Thor: Ragnarok is set two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – although that film’s events seemed more like a week rather than an age – and our hero Thor, the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth), is forewarned about Ragnarok: a prophecy that spells the destruction of his homeland of Asgard.
Without going too much into the plot or spoilers Thor encounters Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), who sends him away to a distant planet ruled by the playful Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, stealing every scene he’s in). Thor must fight for his freedom in a gladiatorial arena and hopefully return to save Asgard. But as the trailers and posters make clear his first opponent is his fellow Avenger – The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Straight off the mark this is one of the funniest MCU movies. It’s littered with visual gags and features great comic timing from its cast. The script and pacing of this movie is brisk and overall it’s a well-balanced and thoroughly entertaining movie.
A lot of this comes from director Taika Waititi. It’s great to see that Marvel is handing the reigns to relatively unknown directors, and trusting them with a (seemingly) large amount of control to create franchise entries that fit in well with the series, yet have distinct signatures. Like Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), this movie takes full advantage of its cosmic setting and has a lot of fun with it.
It’s little surprise then that this film is filled with Kiwis, Aussies and stars of Waititi’s previous excellent moviem Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), along with some great and unexpected cameos. As expected many characters return, including the current best MCU villain Loki, The God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston), whose turbulent relationship with his brother Thor develops and the character has his fair share of standout moments.
However, some returning characters are killed off rather suddenly and without any depth or weight, which is a shame as the actors get not much more than cameo appearances. But that’s no real big surprise to me as Marvel will be resetting the cinematic universe after the 4th Avengers movie, and I expect a lot of these characters will be resurrected, but probably played by actors whose multi film contracts are up for renewal.
But there is wealth of new characters introduced in this film that I hope make the transition to next year’s Infinity War, such as Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. I’m pleased to say there is just the right amount of Hulk and Bruce Banner in this film not to detract attention from Thor, and in whatever form Banner is, the two make a great pairing.
Chris Hemsworth is well cast as Thor both in physicality and mannerisms, but its apparent with this entry that he has fully embraced the silliness and arrogance of the character. Over several films we have seen Thor transform from being a spoilt kid who wanted nothing more than to fight, to a leader who is proud of being a hero.
Looks wise this is one of the most visceral films I’ve seen and at times echoes the psychedelic cinema of the 60s; but not in a Doctor Strange (2016) way. The sets, costumes and spaceships all look amazing and capture the comic book look with its lavish use of colours and unique and often non-symmetrical designs.
As per most reviews I start to wrap things up by mentioning the soundtrack, which is a mix of 80’s style synths along with the normal unmemorable orchestral scores used in the MCU, but there is one tune which stands out. Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is utilised perfectly and had me tapping along to the baseline during one of the fight sequences.
It turns out that director Waititi used this song as part of his pitch to Marvel, and I believe it should be used in every MCU film that Thor makes an appearance.
So with the hilarious script, great roster of actors and actresses who all genuinely look like they’re having a blast, the aesthetics, sound and brisk pace: this film is quite simply a joy to watch.
Overall Verdict: Marvel has done it again. This is easily the best Thor film and one of the best movies in the MCU. Thoroughly entertaining with a great balance of action and drama, and is one of the funniest films of the year!
Reviewer: George Elcombe