‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Spoiler-Free Review

If the satanic Illuminati is real and runs Hollywood, the studio executives at Marvel had to have sold their soul. It’s rare to have such consistency in a film series, like this. One of the best aspects is that the film actually stands on it’s own, rather than getting bit by the “tie it to the bigger universe” bug. Thor: Ragnarok is a breath of fresh air, considering Thor has been struggling to find his footing on his own. Tonally, it is a huge leap from the rest of the solo outings for the God of Thunder, which is good and bad in some ways.

Off the bat, this film has a flashy start with silly moments, and big action scene, and the subtlest exposition which kicks off the entire plot. Everything we need to know about how the film will play out is set up perfectly in the first 5 minutes of the movie. Honestly, no Marvel movie has had an opening that prepares you for the next 2 hours since the first Iron Man. The film is the opposite of a funnel, in that it seems the more that was crammed in, the better it flowed. One thing worth noting, this may have featured the most Nordic/Thor lore of the series, which is a nice touch, because the world of Asgard is rich and has a lot of fun tools to play around with. Do other Marvel characters show up? Yes; one shows up. That scene, by the way, is not only organically woven in, but is easily the highlight of the film.

Image via Fandango Image via Fandango

So Thor, who, up until this point, has been the arrogant warrior with little attachment to materials and planes outside of battle, with a small amount of emotional connection, is now a full on buffoon. Thor is a mix between Hemsworth’s character from Ghostbusters (2016) and Deadpool. He does dumb slapstick, awkward speeches, he makes references to things which he has no knowledge of, but feels more complete. This is good because it gives Thor a little more depth and bad because it strays away from who Thor was, originally, as a character.  Thor is at his best, on screen, as the fish out of water character. While he did silly things in his previous appearances, he was never this silly. He is more like Clark Griswald than the Conan-esque character he was in the books. There is a bit of a conflict here for multiple reasons. The showing that I saw had many women in the audience, and I don’t blame them, but Thor did lose some of his masculinity, and it cannot be denied that that is appealing to part of the female audience. He is no longer the God of Lightning who shows up, kicks ass, and calls down the lightning, which can alienate the hardcore audience. Part of me is upset that Thor was changed, but at the same time, it may be a necessary change. It comes off as a change to satisfy a wider audience, but I don’t think that is always a bad thing.

I am trying to tiptoe around the plot, so the experience is preserved as well as it can be, but everyone is on point. It being Marvel, you may wonder about the villain. Since Civil War, Marvel has been doing pretty well with their villains. Granted, Dr. Strange had a “villain of the week”, even though the resolution was very clever, and I’d say we have another strong addition. Watch the movie to see the fate of the Hela, played by, a never better looking, Cate Blanchett, but she has a goal, backstory, emotional investment, a scene stealing performance and serves as a good means for Thor’s arc to come full circle. Moving on from that elephant in the room, everybody in this movie is hilarious, except Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, who I thought had a stand out poor performance. This is a comedy disguised as an action film. While Guardians has a lot of funny moments, it’s a space opera with strong emotional moments and themes of loneliness and family, while this is a screwball comedy with visual gags galore, slapstick and pratfall like you wouldn’t expect.

Even though not all the Marvel films are of the same series, they all lead down the same road in an overarching story, for the most part, with the exceptions being the strongest films in the cannon (Guardians 1 & 2, Winter Soldier, Spider-Man). Thor: Ragnarok is a strong entry that is getting us closer and closer to that showdown we were teased with back in 2012, but it’s because Marvel is honing their craft. Instead of repeating the same mistakes, Marvel is trying new things to keep the films fresh, even though most of their origin tales are the same story. This film does have some character problems, but only with adaptation, which can alienate the fans of the source material. But for fans of the MCU, and a wide audience, it is a consistently entertaining film that is well written, incredibly funny, over the top violent, but in a silly fantasy way, and makes you happy to be along for the ride.

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