Boy, this movie sure has hype surrounding it. “Best reviewed Marvel film of all time.” That’s saying quite a bit as there’s a ton of well-received Marvel films and Thor hasn’t exactly been everyone’s darling as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is concerned.
The Thor movies are funny enough among my favorites. Why? Well, Chris Hemsworth always seems to knock it out of the park for me. He’s got a crap load of charm and charisma. Plus, the dude’s really funny. And that was always the bread and butter of these solo films: the humor. I still laugh hysterically when Thor gets hit by Natalie Portman’s car in the first film. Granted, THE DARK WORLD (2013) had its hits (the final battle with Thor and Malekith teleporting everywhere and Mjolnir just can’t get to Thor, and just Loki) and its misses (Stellan Skarsgård. Just… Stellan Skarsgård…), but I still really enjoy these films. They’re probably not the best of the best in terms of Marvel films, but I like ’em anyway.
The latest installment looks like Thor got himself into a fight with Hela, the Goddess of Death, resulting in Mjolnir getting destroyed, and she being hellbent on conquering Asgard. Thor’s without his powers now and taken to a gladiatorial planet where he meets up with Hulk and later on, Loki, eventually teaming up to try and bring down Hela. Standard enough story, but the cast is great, so I’m sure it’ll be entertaining as hell.
Speaking of which, here’s the cast. Starring, we have Chris Hemsworth (GHOSTBUSTERS , RUSH , STAR TREK , and upcoming films 12 STRONG  and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ), Cate Blanchett (SONG TO SONG , I’M NOT THERE. , THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY , and upcoming films OCEAN’S EIGHT  and THE JUNGLE BOOK ), Mark Ruffalo (NOW YOU SEE ME 2 , ZODIAC , WINDTALKERS , and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR), Jeff Goldblum (INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE , MAN OF THE YEAR , THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK , and upcoming films ISLE OF DOGS  and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM ), and Tessa Thompson (CREED , SELMA , WHEN A STRANGER CALLS , and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR). In support, we have Tom Hiddleston (KONG: SKULL ISLAND , MUPPETS MOST WANTED , THOR , and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR), Idris Elba (THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US , PROMETHEUS , 28 WEEKS LATER , and upcoming film MOLLY’S GAME  and TV show continuation THE DARK TOWER ), Karl Urban (PETE’S DRAGON , PATHFINDER , and XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS [1996 – 2001]), Anthony Hopkins (TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT , BEOWULF , and AMISTAD ), and Clancy Brown (STRONGER , PATHFINDER, STARSHIP TROOPERS , and the upcoming SPONGBOB SQUAREPANTS 3 ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Taika Waititi, known for HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (2016). Penning the screenplay, we have a red flag total of three writers: Eric Pearson (3 episodes of TV show AGENT CARTER [2015 – 2016]), Craig Kyle (animation writer for PLANET HULK , DOCTOR STRANGE , and 6 episodes of X-MEN: EVOLUTION [2000 – 2003]), and Christopher Yost (MAX STEEL , THOR: THE DARK WORLD , and the upcoming SILVER & BLACK ). Composing the score is Mark Mothersbaugh, known for LEGO NINJAGO (2017), MAMA’S BOY (2007), video game CRASH BANDICOOT 2: CORTEX STRIKES BACK (1997), and the upcoming HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is Javier Aguirresarobe, known for THE PROMISE (2017), GOYA’S GHOSTS (2006), and THE OTHERS (2001).
I can safely say that I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps not hyped on ecstasy and twenty shots of espresso, but I’m pretty damn excited all the same. Gotta love anything Thor and Hulk, right?
This is my honest opinion of: THOR: RAGNAROK
After saving the world from Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been on a quest across the cosmos looking for more infinity stones, but not having any luck. Shifting his focus to deal with a set of dreams he’s been having involving the complete destruction of Asgard, revealed to him by the fire demon Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) that it’s Ragnarok, which can only happen if King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) dies. Having stopped Ragnarok by taking Surtur’s crown, Thor is shown that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) never perished in the Dark World and has been posing as their father, enjoying his fake ruling. Searching for the father Loki hid away, they find him in his final moments, revealing that the two have an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), Odin’s firstborn, who was imprisoned for having a blood-lust beyond even his own control and so long as Odin lived, she would remain where she was. However, Odin dies and Hela immediately arrives, destroys Mjolnir, and as the brothers try to escape back to Asgard via the Bifröst, Hela tails them and throws them out of the portal. While Hela arrives to claim the throne as her own, Thor is stranded on an unknown planet, run by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and is taken to an arena to fight for his freedom so he can return to Asgard and fight Hela once more.
Dear, Hollywood. Stop making comedies. Your desperate attempts to make cursing and sex funny has failed. Marvel’s got this. Go away and never come back.
OH MY GOD!!! Bar none, this is the funniest movie of the year. I haven’t laughed this hard, this consistently, in a long ass time. Er… well, since maybe the last Marvel movie. Anyway, there is a lot to go through, so let’s get through it.
While Thor has always been a more comedic focused set of movies in the past, it’s clear to me now that they’ve probably taken themselves a little too seriously. What I mean is that despite the humor, and a mixed bag of good and bad as they’ve been, there was still an air of seriousness that probably didn’t mix that well. That’s not to say that the comedy didn’t work, nor am I saying that the drama didn’t work, what I’m saying is that perhaps the tones needed some working. It took some time, but that seems to be the case and it works beautifully. Thor’s just found out that Loki isn’t dead, and what’s worse, has been masquerading as their father to enjoy the perks of being a king, while hiding their real father on Earth. Though this does beg the question… was Odin really just sitting on his ass the entire time letting Loki vainly rule Asgard? That’s… not really explained very well if I recall. Also, really? Thor hasn’t been to Asgard in two years? Isn’t the Bifröst supposed to be his primary source of interstellar travel? The opening makes it clear that he’s been all around the universe. One would think that he’d visit Asgard once in awhile just to sleep in his own bed and eat a proper meal before shoving off. Yeah, now that I’m writing about this, the beginning of the film doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially when you work in that he tries to use the Bifröst to escape the demon dragon pretty liberally. Side note, demon dragons need to be more of a thing. Anyway, the rest of the movie is Thor just trying to get home, but constantly put in situations that he can’t simply walk away from. He’s frustrated, angry, generally being a “hot-headed fool,” as he admits later on. Hulk doesn’t want to help him, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) doesn’t want to help him, Loki’s enjoying his position at the Grandmaster’s side a little too much, so he’s obviously not going to help, so you feel Thor’s need to get home despite how horrible the odds are against him. And is Thor secretly in love with his own hair? Because when Stan Lee is about to cut it, I would swear you’re about to see the God of Thunder about to weep.
Hulk. What the hell can you possibly say? Quite a bit, so let’s start gushing! He’s been a fan favorite ever since his reintroduction in THE AVENGERS (2012), and it’s not hard to see why. Smashing everything, including punching Thor. His fight with Iron Man in AGE OF ULTRON (2015), a classic to be sure. And now he’s gotten even better. If I remember his previous appearances, he’s never said much outside of, “Puny god.” Hell, he technically hasn’t even said, “Hulk smash!” since THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008). Everyone else says it for him. But now he’s given actual dialog. Short, blunt sentences more akin to a child’s speech, but it works out. Because of this, he’s got an actual character. Yeah, how about that? Hulk has always been more or less portrayed like a sad monster with the hots for Betty Ross, and in the Avengers films, he’s just the awesome smashing monster. Finally, he’s got his moment in the sun and they do a surprising amount with the idea. While most everyone under the Grandmaster’s heel is a warrior who exists to fight and die for his and the planet’s entertainment, an obvious form of servitude, Hulk rather enjoys himself. He lives in an impressive penthouse where he lounges around being appreciated for his fighting prowess until the next combatant arrives to unleash the anger that he always feels. So it comes as no surprise why he doesn’t wants to help Thor reclaim his home from Hela. Though why Thor didn’t try to entice Hulk with the prospect of fighting the GODDESS OF DEATH, an opponent that Thor himself couldn’t defeat, is entirely beyond me. But more than that, and the incredibly funny banter that the two characters exchange, there is still an ironic softness to the big green guy. When he and Thor argue and Thor calls him “the stupid Avenger” in the heat of the moment, Hulk actually pauses. You see his feeling are legitimately hurt and Thor knows it, immediately prompting an apology a kind of sweet connection they share knowing that they’re, “just a couple of hotheaded fools.” You really feel for the guy and love him all the same. This is how you do “Hulk with feelings” Hollywood. The emo brooding Hulk from his two solo outings is a little too soap opera.
Now for Blanchett. Holy shit, who the hell knew that an actress as freakin’ classy as her, who brought such elegance to Lord of the Rings, complexity in CAROL (2015), could play such a wonderful comic book villain? And isn’t that a rare thing to say these days? Hela is indeed my favorite villain since Loki. Although you could easily convince anyone nowadays that Loki is just an anti-hero, rather than a full-blown villain, but we’ll get to Loki in a minute. I love Hela. While her… well, I’m not sure what to call her look when she’s not all “metal spiky hair”… urban? We’ll call it her urban look. Her urban look is a little too similar in design to Enchantress’ design from SUICIDE SQUAD (2016), which is already too similar to the Grudge girl and Samara from the Ring franchise, which was initially a bit of a blow to my liking of the character. But give Blanchett credit, she made the look… well, look good. And more than that, Hela’s a BEAST. Aside from tossing Thor and Loki out of the Bifröst portal, which we’ve never seen happen in previous movies, one of the first thing she does is murder the entire Asgardian army solo, or at least the royal palace guards. But more than that, she’s kinda funny. A hell of a lot funnier than they tried to make Ultron. She’s got this great sense of sick humor. Like when she appoints Skurge (Karl Urban) as her personal executioner, she goes on this tangent about how the Executioner didn’t just execute people, but they were enforcers of the ruler’s will. Essentially their champion. But… they primarily executed people. I loved it. Blanchett should do more comedy related work.
The very first thing she does is murder the Warriors Three, which I am very conflicted about. On the one hand, I get what this is supposed to represent. Hela’s threat to the main characters. And in an action movie where you need the villain to be a threat, they have to do something big to back that up, and that’s a big move. The problem is the Warriors Three had small appearances in the Thor movies. Their characters weren’t very fleshed out. They were enjoyable as “good guy henchmen,” but there really wasn’t much to the characters. In THE DARK WORLD, Sif was the closest who got character by being teased as a romantic interest for Thor instead of Jane Foster, but again, they barely get fleshed out as characters… and that’s kind of lame to reduce Sif as “the girlfriend.” So Hela killing them off does get the job done in showcasing the threat she really is, their deaths aren’t very impactful since we know so little about them. And because they’re killed so unceremoniously quick, we never will. So here’s to seeing Lady Sif again in an upcoming sequel.
This is also probably a good time to mention something that will likely break the hearts of a few fans out there. It’s not a negative toward the film, per se, but… at the same time, it kind of is. Lady Sif, played memorably by the lovely and kick-ass Jaimie Alexander, is not in this movie. Hell, she’s not even referenced. What the hell gives?! Well, in reality, it’s because of timing. Alexander was offered a chance to return, but currently, she’s starring in the hit TV show BLINDSPOT (2015 – ongoing), and the timing was really bad. Her show was about to start shooting its new season and she wasn’t able to make an appearance, or something along those lines. Why she wasn’t referenced in this film, who knows? It’s pretty classless if you ask me. Sif was a pretty popular character from the previous two films, being the only bad-ass woman surrounded by burly men. But here’s hoping that she makes a return in a future film.
But to make up for the lack of Sif, they did something rather amazing. They included cameos. But not just any cameos. Luke Hemsworth, the eldest Hemsworth boy, followed by Chris and Liam, the youngest. And not just Luke Hemsworth, but Sam Neill. And not just Luke Hemsworth and Sam Neill, but mother @#$%ing Matt Damon. Yes, each of them has a cameo in this movie. But wait! There’s more! Their cameos are all in one scene! But wait! There’s even more! Their scene is this: Thor has returned to Asgard after two years and happens on the Odin-disguised Loki watching a small stage play of his death scene in THE DARK WORLD. And who are the actors in this play? Luke Hemsworth plays Thor, Matt Damon plays Loki, and Sam Neill plays Odin. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, a million yeses! This is about as hammy and insanely hilarious as it sounds.
Speaking of Loki, let’s talk about Loki! Hiddleston is his usual brilliant and conniving self. His opening sequences are great. When Thor and Loki head to Earth to locate Odin, who wasn’t where Loki originally hid him, are both picked up by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Thing is, while Thor is treated like a welcomed guest, Loki is forced into… well, I’m not sure what it was called, but it’s some place where he was just falling. FOR THIRTY MINUTES!!! See the movie, you’ll get it. It’s hilarious. Seriously, Loki versus Doctor Strange should have been one of the most epic fights in cinematic history, and instead it became one of the most epic punchlines in the movie. In retrospect, Loki’s primary purpose is to be the punchline to every joke that he’s apart of. When he sees Hulk appear on the arena, his first reaction is, “I need to get off this planet.” Not simply, “I need to leave this building,” or, “I need to leave this city,” no, he knows his ass is going to get tossed around like a cheap rag doll if he doesn’t get off the planet. But much to his hilarious tension and unease, the Grandmaster won’t let him simply go. Ugh, I want to talk about the jokes more, but I don’t want to give away everything. Just… keep an eye out for the joke, “Get help.” It’s been two days since I’ve seen this movie and I still can’t stop laughing about it.
And here’s a surprise stick-out: Thompson. Out of this cast of heavy-weight actors full of charm and comedy, who would have guessed that Thompson would not just simply hold her own, but be among them as one of the more impactful characters? No joke, she’s really funny and Valkyrie has a really good backstory to her. She was once one of the valkyrie, a legendary group of all-female warriors sworn to protect the throne of Asgard. This is coming from Thor, by the way. Yeah, the God of Thunder is talking about “legendary” warriors. Really think about that. We know Thor was born and was a kid. Childhood and everything. But he’s pretty ageless and has probably outlived some of the longest running Earth civilizations. For a GOD to be talking about heroes of a bygone era with such wide-eyed admiration should really give you a scope of just how incredible the valkyries were. But Valkyrie here has certainly fallen from grace. Awe hell, having written that out, her intro scene is pretty symbollic of that, as she appears drunk and falls into a pile of garbage. Jesus, that’s a hell of a lot more heartbreaking thinking back on it than it is when it happens. In any case, she is a drunk and she’s got a boat load of sass to her, but she knows exactly what she wants and a lot of that involves being left alone and getting drunk to forget her past. About the only thing that I didn’t like about her is that she develops a close bond with Hulk. Not that it’s a bad thing in of itself, but it’s simply because the relationship is heavily implied, but they rarely interact with each other outside of maybe one scene, and it’s not for very long. We know they’re training partners and they like each other. Maybe that’s all most audiences would need, and it’s quite possible that the movie would only be made longer if they focused on this relationship and diverge too much from Thor’s story, so I can see this as being just a “me” complaint, rather than an actual complaint of the movie. Still, for as much excitement the internet has been getting about what their relationship means in the comics, you’d think the relationship on screen would be fleshed out a little bit more, especially if she’s going to be a mainstay of the franchise for years to come. But I guess that’s what sequels are for. Fingers crossed, y’all!
Jeff Goldblum!! Ahhhhh Jeff Goldblum!! Once you see him as the Grandmaster, life becomes just a little bit better. He’s always got these quips ready to go like a cowboy reaching for his six-shooter. It’s incredible. “Ass-guard?” “The Lord of Thunder.” Oh my god, I think Goldblum is my spirit animal. I honestly don’t know what to say about him other than… if it’s true that there’s going to be short films in the same vein as the short films about Thor during the events of CIVIL WAR (2016), and he’s also going to be rooming with Darryl, I think life can be considered a blessing.
Urban as Skurge is also highly amusing. In the comics, I’m pretty sure he’s portrayed as this hulking enforcer with zero dialog. Merciless, blood-thirsty, the works. But here, he’s got plenty of dialog and he’s not a brute by nature. Hell, he’s just a janitor who cleans the Bifröst gateway and shows off Earth trinkets to a couple of easily impressed lady Asgardians. You can tell that he isn’t really much of a warrior, but accepts his place at Hela’s side out of survival instincts, not because he cares about her usurping the throne. Hell, half the time, he hesitates doing anything that she tells him to do. Executing an innocent person? That’s not in his character. He just wants to be recognized as more than who he was, not as some kind of monster, which Hela was almost turning him into.
Notice something here? Despite how many characters there are in this movie, everyone’s got just the right amount of screen time. We know exactly who all the important characters are. We know what their motivations are, their goals, their backstories if applicable, their personalities are all distinct, their resolutions are all satisfying in varying ways, and that’s a real testament to how well-written the movie is as a whole. Most movies with an extensive cast like this, SOMEONE gets the short end of the stick. Usually it’s pretty understandable, depending on the story. IT (2017) certainly fell prey to this, as some of the boys weren’t well-developed or memorable, but this movie succeeds for the most part. Quite literally, the closest person who doesn’t get that much screen time is Heimdall (Idris Elba), but even he has a certain air of badassery that it almost doesn’t matter. All he does is protect the innocent Asgard people from Hela’s undead forces with a giant sword and glorious set of dreadlocks. Also, it’s Idris Elba. He’s kind of automatically cool.
Aside from the beginning of the film, which, a lot of stuff really didn’t add up, I don’t think I had any additional major problems. I am in love with this movie, y’all. I have no idea if it’s in my top five favorite MCU films, but it’s one of the best and certainly the best Thor film. It looks great, feels great, guaranteed to entertain. If you’re a fan of the MCU, you’re likely going to see this, so there’s no point in me telling you that I recommend it. If you’ve only been casually watching these movies, like my parents, I think you’ll still get something out of it. There’s enough humor and tremendous acting to keep you engaged. If you haven’t seen a single one of these films, I don’t think it’s for you. It does heavily reference the previous films and you might get lost in what lead up to these events and might be confused on where the direction will go. But even then, I can’t imagine the visuals wouldn’t grasp you. I can’t believe that there isn’t something that you couldn’t take away from. It’s an amazing film and well worth the price of admission. I hope to God that I can see this again in theaters and I can’t wait to own it on Blu-Ray. Ragnarok may threaten Asgard, but the Mighty Thor will live on.
My honest rating for THOR: RAGNAROK: 5/5