I must admit to a bit of superhero fatigue at this point, there never seems to be a point where there isn’t a new superhero movie out. This is after all the third Marvel Cinematic Universe offering this year alone, combined with DC’s efforts this year, it adds up to a whole lot of superheroes. You can have too much of a good thing after all.
The first two Thor movies are probably two of my least favourite MCU movies, both were nothing special and the second one was aggressively dull. However the trailers for this seemed to indicate a change in tone for the God of Thunder, did it work?
Thor is haunted by visions of the fall of Asgard. He is however kept prisoner on a planet ruled by an eccentric leader and forced to do battle with his fellow Avenger, Hulk.
Together with Hulk, and his untrustworthy brother Loki, Thor must stop his sister, the Goddess of Death, Hela, from destroying Asgard for good.
One thing is clear from Thor’s very first scene, this is not the same Thor from The Dark World. He’s lighter, more sarcastic and irreverent. The cynic in me thinks that Marvel has looked at the success of Guardians of the Galaxy’s lighter, more comedic tone and decided to run with it with Thor.
The comparison with Guardians doesn’t end with the comedy, it’s space setting and visual design sometimes invokes thoughts of Guardians too. This movies comedy is a little hit and miss at times, at it’s worst it seems forced and hackneyed, but at it’s best makes Thor a more approachable, and likeable, character. Of course there was comedic moments in the first two, not on the scale of this though.
Make no mistake, Thor: Ragnarok is a very good movie for it’s genre, it’s visually stunning and it’s tone remains consistent, to me it’s a great deal better than it’s two predecessors.
I think a lot of the improvements can be credited to a change of director, and a new vision. The movie’s director, Taika Waititi, who himself features in this movie as a humorous side character, brilliantly crafts inventive and lively action set pieces, as well as actual living, breathing worlds, the planet Sakaar looks and feels like a thriving planet and is extremely visually interesting. The direction of the climactic battle on Asgard is also breath-taking.
The cast assembled is one of immense talent also, we of course have the returning favourites: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo, who as always capture their characters brilliantly, Hiddleston’s Loki has always been a stand-out character from right back in Phase One and his character development in this movie helps to make him a complete character, as opposed to a complete ‘villain’. Something must also be said about the chemistry between Ruffalo and Hemsworth on screen, their interactions jump right off the screen as their characters come together so well, a good example of which is seen in scenes on Sakaar.
As for the newcomers, we had two brand new antagonists, firstly Jeff Goldblum as The Grand Master on Sakaar. This was typical Goldblum fare, an eccentric and colourful character that fits him right down to the ground, it seems like he had tremendous fun in this part, his character doesn’t turn out to be massively significant to the story as a whole, especially in the later stages, but he helps flesh out the world while he’s there.
Then, as the film’s ‘big bad’ we have a turn from Cate Blanchett as Hela, Thor and Loki’s previously unseen sister, and the Goddess of Death. It’s nice in a Marvel movie, which are often criticised for having weak villains, to see a powerful villain who are not only a threat to the heroes but are perhaps stronger, making the heroes need to think to defeat them in the climactic battle. Blanchett’s performance is strong and domineering, occasionally wandering into hammy territory, but if anything, this works with the films tone, especially sharing villain duties with the equally hammy Goldblum.
In conclusion, Marvel’s strong streak continues with this visually impressive and warm movie, which helps move the whole plot of the MCU a step towards it’s eventual endgame, Infinity War.