The hype was real with Thor: Ragnarok. I loved the idea of funny Thor in space with the Hulk bro-ing it up, and given Marvel’s track record, it was bound to be heaps of fun to watch, even if the plot may be a bit thin and the villains poor.
But man, did Thor: Ragnarok surprise me. While the plot and pacing was off, it defied my expectations and can handily call itself one of the most enjoyable Marvel films to date, plus it has an awesome villain.
Ragnarok is yet another movie where I swear all the Marvel producers have been tripping on acid or drugs when conceiving, because along with Dr. Strange (who makes an awesome cameo) and Guardians of the Galaxy, things have been getting a lot more colourful and crazy and magical.
This film doesn’t take itself too seriously like The Dark World did, and is filled from top to bottom with some great laugh-out-loud jokes. But despite the endless amount of humour, it can’t mask the fact that the plot moves along a bit too quickly. They find Odin, he dies, Hela appears, and suddenly they’re already thrown into Sakaar. Asgard and the entire doomsday scenario of Ragnarok doesn’t seem to carry much weight, and instead we get a fight in the Sakaar arena that probably lasted longer than Hela’s takeover of Asgard.
It takes away the gravity of the situation, and that sort of brings into question the sort of balance needed for superhero flicks to strike. We want to see our heroes kick ass and take names, but we hate dreary and gloomy films like BvS. How do we balance the need for danger and suspense, yet keep up a lighter tone to avoid being boringly dark?
So, while I haven’t watched BvS and never intend to, and while there are plenty of other flaws besides the tone of Snyder’s vision for the DCEU, I can sort of see where he’s coming from. After all, my own stories often dive into drama and angst wholeheartedly.
Marvel obviously takes the opposite approach, preferring a more casual viewing experience that can appeal not just to hardcore fans, but to families and kids who can then be drawn into the Marvel universe. Ragnarok feels like it could be a natural progression for the MCU, which I enjoy but don’t necessarily agree with.
Of course, while the film may lack tension and the pacing quirky, there’s no doubting the great turn as Hela by Cate Blanchett. She is truly a remarkable actress, and she’s definitely one of the best Marvel villains we’ve had since…well, Michael Keaton in Homecoming. Powerful, intimidating, confident and scene-stealing, she really made full use of the limited screentime she had to sell herself as a real dangerous cookie.
Meanwhile, we get to see Chris Hemsworth demonstrate all of his comedy chops, which are quite considerable. Mark Ruffalo is a brilliant comedic foil as Hulk/Banner, and their shared scenes are basically the most hilarious in the movie. And who doesn’t love Tom Hiddleston, who also shed the semi-seriousness of the Loki from previous films and became a full-blown comedian.
Jeff Goldblum does Jeff Goldblum in the most quirky and wonderful way, and Tessa Thompson and Idris Elba round up the main cast as the serious members who go about their jobs without cracking jokes. Heck, even Surtr is funny, being a child-like giant monster of fire that tries to wreck Asgard like he was a child trying to wreck a toy city. The only character out of place is probably Karl Urban, who’s the reluctant self-serving new gatekeeper that decides to sacrifice himself in service of Asgard. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is definitely the far more rounded and developed character, that’s for sure.
So yes, this film is ridiculously funny and fun to watch. The fight in Sakaar was genuinely enjoyable. Hela was a great villain. But it just lacked a little plot magic and pacing to be a great movie. Another good Marvel flick it is then.