The moment Thor Ragnarok opens with a close up of Thor suspended somewhere in a cage, staring directly at the camera and delivering a darkly funny monologue, you know you’re in for a very different Thor movie. And the moment the camera pans to the left to reveal a fiery demon chilling on a makeshift throne arguing with Thor, you’re sure that this is going to be an incredibly entertaining movie.
Marvel and Disney have outdone themselves – Thor Ragnarok is the best film of their superhero cannon to date, thanks to the weird genius of the director Taika Waititi.
The Kiwi filmmaker brings a whole new layer of hilariously awkward comedy, self-aware set pieces, eye poppingly splashy colours, 8-bit inspired music along with the MCU’s ridiculously high bar for special effects. More importantly, Waititi also finds the right balance of heroism and humor in the Thor character, something the previous films had missed, turning him into a serious bore.
If you’ve been following the sprawling timeline of the MCU, you’ll fit right into the story. The events in this film occur parallel to the stuff that happens in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider Man Homecoming and Civil War, and a few months after Doctor Strange.
The fact that we’re able to follow such a complicated timeline so easily is a testament to how finely Marvel has built their storytelling machine.
Anyway, we follow Thor who is stuck on a strange planet called Sakaar, which has odd colours and is ruled by an even weirder dude named Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who organizes gladiator matches of sorts. This is a problem because the villain of the week – Hela (Cate Blanchett) shows up in Thor’s home Asgaard with plans to rule the world. You can guess what happens next – Thor must escape the bizarro planet and save his people (again).
Every time there is a potentially familiar setup, the filmmaker injects his trademark visual comedy to make it all seem fresh. The film also plays like it is made by an MCU fanboy suddenly given the power to control the ship.
So the plot zooms from one awesome set piece to the other, feeding an imagination that has gone completely wild. Rocket ship blasters controlled by invisible gloves, scary looking but soft spoken aliens made of rocks, laugh out loud cameos by other superheroes, hyper kinetic action which culminates into an awesome slow motion final punch, and even the ultimate badass female sidekick called Valkyrie played by Tessa Thomspson.
Since you’ve probably already seen the trailer you would know that The Hulk has a major presence in the film. But it’s not just a presence, it’s the best rendition of the character to date.
Even if you are wowed by the spectacular action, it’s the Thor-Hulk banter that makes the most impact. Placing these two inherently serious characters in a plot device reminiscent of buddy cop and road trip comedies is a brave decision that pays off handsomely.
On the downside, despite Blanchett’s fun performance, the film suffers from the same problem that every other MCU has to date – a villain that shows great promise but disappears without making too much of an impact. With a scale this huge in these films, peppered with so many hero characters and even grey characters like Loki, it’s impossible to create a well-developed ultimate villain whose arc starts and ends in just one movie.
You should watch Thor Ragnarok on the biggest screen in your town, and to be able to enjoy the pop fizzy colour palette you should head to a theater playing it in 3D. This is a new standard set for superhero movies, and I wonder how Marvel will top this with the Infinity War movies.
CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins
DIRECTION: Taika Waititi
My Rating: 4/5