Note from the author: With big budget movie releases, particularly the highly anticipated, comes a lot of angst about spoilers. Every care has been taken to keep major reveals and plot points away from this review, but everyone has a different spoiler tolerance, so if you are particularly sensitive, this review may not be for you. Thankyou and enjoy the movies!
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe going at full strength, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find that their latest offering is an absolute gem. But it’s somehow a surprise when that movie is a Thor movie. Aside from The Incredible Hulk, Thor has created the most headaches for the executives at Marvel and Disney, with the previous entries – Thor and Thor: The Dark World – failing to resonate with wider audiences in the way Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America have. But Ragnarok is a welcome change from this pattern, with the film rising to be one of the best offerings the MCU has crafted.
The film picks up with Thor following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thor has been searching for Infinity Stones following his visions, but soon those visions are replaced by visions of the destruction of Asgard, in the prophesized end-of-days apocalypse known as Ragnarok. Following up on these visions, Thor soon witnesses the release of Hela, Goddess of Death from her sealed prison and finds himself captured an exiled on Sicar under the command of the eccentric Grandmaster. To save his people, Thor must team up with a rag-tag team including a Valkyrie warrior, his adopted brother and frequent foe Loki and his fellow Avenger, the Hulk, in order to defeat Hela.
The plot is over-the-top and a little bit silly, which in lesser hands would be a major issue. But Marvel made a masterstroke when the hired director Taika Waititi to put his spin on things. Waititi, for those unaware of his work, is a highly popular New Zealand director responsible for cult classics such as Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which was my favourite movie of 2016), and has a unique comic sensibility. His comedy was allowed to shine through in this movie, and as a result, any of the silliness of the plot was forgiven in a way that is hard for the more self-serious tones of the other Thor films.
Pictured: Something that should not have been taken seriously, Marvel!
Waititi’s vision is brought to life by a wonderful cast that take the material and all jostle in an attempt to steal the film. Chris Hemsworth returns in the title role, and regulars such as Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba also return. They are joined by Dr Strange‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo and Marvel newcomers including Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson and Waititi himself. The returning cast put in predictably strong performances, and the newcomers all steal scenes and, in a lesser film, would likely be the standout – particularly Waititi whose dry and witty delivery was used to great effect.
I guess he got lucky with a director that understood him.
There are minor issues of course – particularly regarding the pacing of the film. Pacing is a big bugbear of mine, and often it can be a problem with the ending of films, as story writers rush to a conclusion after cramming too much in early. But with this film the pacing is an issue at the beginning, and to the films credit the ship is righted once the characters get to Sicar. But the early scenes are a little off-putting.
But aside from that, this is a beautifully designed and well crafted film. Marvel have advertised this as a throwback to the cheesy action epics of the 1980’s (such as Flash Gordon) and there’s elements of this for sure. From the opening battle scenes (set wonderfully to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”) this film is a lot of fun without the self-serious pondering of some more recent action epics.
4.7/5 – A really fun movie that knows exactly what it is.
My current MCU rankings
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Captain America: Civil War
- The Avengers
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Spider-Man Homecoming
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Iron Man
- Doctor Strange
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Iron Man 3
- The Incredible Hulk
- Thor: The Dark World
- Iron Man 2
P.S. Post-credit scene count: 2
As everyone knows, Hollywood is a mess following allegations of sexual harrassment levelled at Harvey Weinstein, which have since also been levelled at Ben Affleck, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner, amongst many others. We cannot and will not let this issue pass by again without real change that makes everyone feel safe and respected in Hollywood. We respect and believe the victims. Until there is real change, I will continue to post a link to this statement on every single post on this page. If I have to do that until I die, so be it. Remember – respect everyone and always consider the consequences of your actions.