Thor’s third solo outing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be summed up quite simply; Ragnarok is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, uniquely bizarre, and very, very, colourful. For those who feel like Marvel or superhero films in general are becoming increasingly formulaic and dull, this film acts as a gut-punch to the previously established canon of the hammer wielding avenger.
After flying away at the end of Age of Ultron, after fearing the prophecy of the end of the world given to him in a dream state by Heimdall, Thor is now against a new villain; Hela, the goddess of death. Beaten down and cast out (a mainstay of Thor films, it seems), he finds himself on Sakaar, trapped in a gladiatorial society, needing to escape to win the day and prevent the death of Asgard.
For fans of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), this film takes advantage of all the good parts of the almost decade long established story in the same thread as Captain America: Civil War; take two Avengers that we haven’t seen since 2015, put them in scenes together and reap the benefit of all the history and chemistry they have. The Hulk in this film feels natural and is arguably one of his best appearances on the big screen to date. As for the rest of the plot, while it was left slightly lacking, had well-paced action and dialogue. Combined with entertaining music choices and glorious cinematic shots you are transfixed to the point where the plot doesn’t particularly matter.
The acting is high quality as you can expect with Marvel. Chris Hemsworth shines in his character’s established fish-out-of-water identity, while still being able to give gravity to the more emotional moments of the film. Mark Ruffalo and Tessa Thompson are a fantastic complementary cast, with a dash of brilliantly weird Jeff Goldblum adding some extra oddball humour to the film. Cate Blanchett, while acting at a high standard as usual, and Karl Urban, who is good (though unnecessary in this film), don’t break the trope of bland Marvel villains. This could be due to having the limelight stolen away by other story-points, but they are better than most.
The humour in this film truly puts this above other comic-book movies of late. Unlike other entries of the past few years in the comic-book genre (with the exception of Deadpool, of course), Ragnarok actually got more laughs than many. Thanks to Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows fame, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), who proved once again Marvel knows how to give indie directors a budget and let them show off their traits, there is riotous laughter every few minutes of this film, and not in a quippy, say-something-smart kind of way. That being said, a negative of this is some important, heavy moments were worsened by the unwillingness to hold back from putting in a joke, but for the sake of the film, this can be forgiven.
To sum up, temper your expectations for what the trailers will have shown you. But if you are a fan of comic-book films, zany comedy or just a fun time, this is one of the films to see this year.
By Alastair Thompson