Take a look at our review for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ as it opens in theaters nationwide this weekend…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Let me get this out of the way before starting this review — I’ve never liked Thor.
Having read comics for three-quarters of my life, the fact is Thor was never a character that appealed to me much less the stories that were told of him in Marvel Comics. Norse mythology didn’t exactly grab me the way that Greek mythology did growing up and Thor was represented as a god in the comics but unlike an equally powerful character like Superman, this guy had no personality whatsoever.
So I wasn’t all that shocked when the first ‘Thor’ movie came and went and once again I was less than impressed by his portrayal in film despite Marvel’s grandest efforts to make him a more likable character. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ did nothing to dispel my opinion and the only favorable moments experienced with the prince of Asgard was during his appearances in films such as ‘The Avengers’ where he was a sidekick at best.
Now there’s no doubt I had higher expectations for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ for any number of reasons, not the least of which were the trailers that were so bonkers and hilarious that I had a hard time believing the film wouldn’t follow suit. Casting for the movie was outstanding and bringing in a director like Taika Waititi was a nice change of pace. Still, it was a ‘Thor’ movie and that meant I wasn’t expected much but I hoped for a pleasant surprise.
As it turns out, Marvel finally found a formula to turn Thor into an underdog while simultaneously transforming this once dour character into the best comic relief in a superhero movie since James Gunn blessed the universe with his take on ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.
With that said, let’s get to our review of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’…
At the end of ‘Thor: The Dark World’, Thor believed that his brother Loki had sacrificed himself to save the day but little did he know that the mischievous villain had actually survived before placing their father Odin in an old folk’s home in New York while he ascended to the throne in Asgard.
That provides just one of the numerous side-splitting plots at the start of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ but the bulk of the movie is based on Thor and Loki’s older sister Hela — the goddess of death — returning to take the throne of Asgard for herself after Odin locked her away for centuries while never telling her brothers that she existed.
The gothed out Hela is a force to be reckoned with and she quickly dispatches Thor and Loki in battle, which ends up with the brothers landing on a distant planet ruled by an out there dictator known as The Grandmaster, who enslaves his people — actually he doesn’t like that word — and the “prisoners with jobs” put on gladiatorial fights for the enjoyment of a blood thirsty crowd.
That’s where Thor runs into his old pal the Hulk, who is the Grandmaster’s ruling champion after the green beast took over two years ago while refusing to ever let Bruce Banner show his face again.
Now Thor has to fight his way off this planet before trying to find a way to defeat his evil sister and her army of zombie like soldiers.
Chris Hemsworth has always looked the part of Thor but much like his comic book counterpart, he was as vanilla as any hero could be in past performances. That’s not the case in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ as he truly shows off his comedy chops in numerous scenes throughout this movie. Hemsworth really shines after spending two previous movies as the second or third best part behind Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
Now make no mistake, Hiddleston is great in this movie as well but for once he’s not the star.
Instead, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a true team effort with Jeff Goldblum chewing up scenes as the wonderfully weird Grandmaster who just can’t seem to get Thor’s nickname right as he constantly calls him the ‘Lord of Thunder’.
Mark Ruffalo plays a brilliantly befuddled scientist after being locked up for two years inside the Hulk and Tessa Thompson is an great addition as a former Asgardian warrior princess turned drunken bounty hunter.
Of course, Cate Blanchett is also pitch perfect as Hela, although she sits in the backseat for a large part of the movie with Thor out battling his way to freedom on another planet. Still as much as Marvel has put out the best superhero movies of the past decade, villains have continued to struggle as one somewhat weak point but Blanchett definitely stands out as the unstoppable Hela.
Even director Taika Waititi gets in the act as the voiceover for a pile of rocks named Korg, who is one of the funniest additions to the film.
Directing and Writing
There aren’t enough accolades to pile onto the plate of what Waititi brought to this movie as a director. He brought humor to a character that’s never seemed all that funny while still simultaneously telling a compelling story about the battle for the soul of Asgard.
Waititi is best known for his work on the film “What We Do In the Shadows”, a mockumentary about a group of vampires sharing a house together and he brings that same kind of wry hilarity to this movie as well. Waititi probably won’t win any awards for this movie because superhero films rarely get that kind of recognition but anyone who’s ever been a Marvel fan should give him a standing ovation for this one.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
If there’s one very minor complaint about ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ it’s that the run time seems to go a little long. Thor’s time spent on that fight planet where the Grandmaster rules is definitely the best part of the film but there are a few moments that felt like they could have been left on the editing floor.
The run time is only listed at two hours and 10 minutes but it felt like they could have shaved off about 15 more minutes from this film and it would have been a non-stop thrill ride filled with laughs and actions that could rival just about any other Marvel movie that’s been released because the material is that strong.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ might be one of the best comedies of the year and it’s not actually a comedy but you’ll be doubled over from laughing so hard at this one. Add in the pulse-pumping action scenes that we’ve come to know and love with every Marvel movie and this is a can’t miss trip to the theater. Also make sure to stick around for two post credits scenes at the end of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ gets four out of five on the Skolnik Scale