With less than two months to go till The Last Jedi, there is little that can distract me from that movie. But when Disney drops an invitation to Thor Ragnarok on your digital doorstep, you don’t refuse. I appreciate a good Marvel film, and this third Thor movie has got plenty of weird aliens, supernatural powers and spaceships to make a Star Wars heart skip a beat. But is it a heartfelt masterpiece or a hard sell?
In short, it’s got it where it counts. Director Taika Waititi has pumped Thor Ragnarok full of vibrant colours and stylish shots. Every scene is a work of art, and every plot element gets ample time to breathe. Between the worst day of Thor’s life that starts the film off, the struggle to find his way off the gladiator world of Sakaar, and his eventual return to Asgard to reclaim his homeworld, no part of the film feels rushed and every twist makes sense.
Speaking of things that make sense. After the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s only natural that Marvel would want to infuse the Thor movies with some of their weird cousins’ trademark humour. For the majority of Ragnarok, this pays off, but sometimes it goes overboard. A film that references portals as giant anuses and features an orgy ship feels a tad off in a trilogy with Thor and The Dark World. The fight sequences underscored by Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song also feel derivative rather than poignant. Thankfully, Chris Hemsworth and his supporting cast all have impeccable comic timing, saving the jokes from falling flat.
That same cast is what really elevates Thor Ragnarok above mediocrity. Everyone involved in the making of the movie clearly had fun, and it shows. Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo build and improve on their characters from previous Marvel outings. Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum ham it up as traditional MCU villains: Not the most fleshed out characters around, but a pure joy to watch. And Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is a scene stealer. Thompson brings both pathos and pleasure to the latest heroic addition to the universe. Solo: A Star Wars Story missed out on a fierce first lady by not casting her.
However hard the actors try though, the script lacks some emotional punch. Sure, a lot of bad things happen to Thor. And yes, the film has ramifications for the entire Marvel universe. But due to Ragnarok’s overuse of humour, we never get the time for any of it to hit home. Even the origin of Hela, which should have added a layer of complexity, does little to up the stakes.
Most other elements of Thor Ragnarok are outstanding though. Costumes are vibrant. Special effects are top notch and help sell some spectacular action. And Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is the connective tissue that expertly pulls all the film’s various threads together. All in all, Ragnarok is a worthy addition to Marvel’s impressive catalogue. One or two issues stop the God of Thunder from reaching Valhalla, but it’s more than worth going to the theatre for.