I’m going to apologize for my Norse Mythology nerd-dom here, but any Thor film kind of sets it off in me. Ragnarok, or “The Fate of the Gods” is an integral part of the Norse mythos. It is literally the end of the world(s) and the death of all of the gods in an epic battle to end all battles. I have accepted long ago that the Thor comics only very loosely follow the mythos, while still enjoying Marvel’s version of Thor in his own right. Regardless of accuracy to the myth, the Ragnarok storyline in the comics is nothing to be laughed at. I hope you can understand why, when I saw the trailer for this film, I was a tad bit nervous when it showed me a lighthearted comedy.
Set two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film opens with Thor imprisoned by Surtur, a fire demon that wants to bring forward the events of Ragnarok; the end of times for Asgard. Thor learns information that saw at the end of Thor: The Dark World, that Odin is no longer in Asgard. Thor now as to do what he can from stopping his older sister, Hela (played by Cate Blanchett), from taking over Asgard and the other realms. As the plot progresses, he enlists the help of a bounty hunter that goes by “Scrapper 142” (played by Tessa Thompson), a fragile rock creature named Korg (voiced by Taika Waititi), and an “Incredible” familiar green face.
Despite my preconceived misgivings about the film, there was much to be enjoyed about it. The character development and interactions were delightful. This time, the plot was focused far more on the Asgardians (and other extraterrestrial beings), completely leaving out the regular Earthling characters from previous Thor films. I can’t say I have a huge complaint about this as I am far more interested in the world of Asgard anyway. (Like I said, I’m a HUGE Norse mythology nerd!) Loki, (Tom Hiddleston) is just a delight as always, while Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is actually even more likable than previous entries. (Perhaps it’s all of the time he spent hanging around the Avengers?) I wish I could say I am sick of Cate Blanchett playing an intense and powerful woman, but she is so freaking good at it, I can’t have any complaints. Hela was so satisfyingly evil that I almost found myself cheering for her more than the good guys. I just want to add…Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster made me so happy.
Like we have come to expect from any MCU film, the visuals and soundtrack have out did themselves. I have always enjoyed glory shots of the world of Asgard, and this film gave me quite a few. Also, the world of Sakaar had the quirky, colorful, alien elements that I wished films like Valerian did better at. As far as the action scenes go, they were beautiful, almost like a moving painting. (Dare I compare them to early Zach Snyder techniques without getting yelled at by his haters?)
The humor is obviously what needs to be addressed more than anything. I will agree 100% with most critics in saying that its one of the funniest MCU films to date. However, the real question is, did it need to be as funny as it was to be enjoyable? Or was the humor somewhat out of place given the material? Readers of the comic could attest to Ragnarok being one of the heaviest Thor stories. Why, then, would did choose to give the film to Waititi, who is known for his lighter hearted comedies? While the studios are partially to blame by taking a “safe route” because of the success of the hilarious Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and the colder reception of the more gloomy Batman V. Superman, the general movie goer is also to blame. Interestingly enough, the earlier cut of Ragnarok was more dark and serious, and was said to be “boring” by test audiences. Hence, it was reedited to be an Action Comedy. Ragnarok had plenty of dramatic, even sad moments, however, one of my biggest complaints about it is that it doesn’t give us time to fully digest what is happening without another joke to interrupt the drama. While I don’t mind that in some films, I may be in the minority on this, but I wish Ragnarok had the courage to be just a little bit more sad.
Regardless of if I agree with how the material was adapted, as a film, Thor: Ragnarok was wildly entertaining and for the most part, enjoyable. On top of that, it seems to be a very important part of the lead up to Infinity War. To be honest, as long as Infinity War is given the amount of weight it needs, then I’m completely fine with a bit of fun other MCU films such as Ragnarok.