‘Thor: Ragnarok’ review

Thor: Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Feige is producing with Louis D’Esposito, Brad Winderbaum, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The story is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Lost and Stephany Folsom, and the screenplay is by Eric Pearson.

Synopsis

In Marvel Studios Thor: Ragnarok, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger the Incredible Hulk!

Review

It’s been a while since I felt in the minority whilst watching a film at the cinema. There are those awkward moments in life when you laugh and nobody else seems to. Or, like me watching this film, you are the one not laughing whilst everybody else is.

Whilst Thor: Ragnarok is not a badly made, badly written or badly executed film it lacks something which makes the character unique. His heart.

My perception of the character is a hammer wielding, super-powered Asgardian with a heart and a sense of melodrama which fits the mythology of the Norse God of Thunder.

I’ve enjoyed his past appearances in the MCU based on the strong balance between awkward comedy and comic book drama. Despite the surrealist nature of a comic book movie Thor always felt like a character rooted in drama with real stakes and consequences.

Where Thor: Ragnarok let me down was in handling of dramatic moments. The new sense of comedy bought by director Taika Waititi undercuts so much of the drama that is removes the stakes from the story almost entirely. What remains is a fully function science-fiction comedy.

In some cases that isn’t a bad thing. When Thor is taunting villains only to fall flat on his face it’s funny. Chris Hemsworth has great comedy timing and this film really plays to his strengths in that respect.

When it doesn’t work is during the emotional moments. Those moments where the pace should slow don’t exist in Thor: Ragnarok. Instead there is only a constant barrage of new information. Though to its credit the film never falls back on the trope of lurching from set piece to set piece. There are character moments peppered throughout. They just happen to be punctuated with comedy from the outset.

The overall story of Raganarok is enjoyable. The stories of Asgard and Sakaar feel slightly at odds at times. Neither feels able to fulfil an entire movie on its own but also don’t fully function together. The final product is left feeling slightly rushed but in the context of the film works with the pacing.

Sakaar provides most of the highlights of the film: the Thor/Hulk fight, Jeff Goldblum as Jeff Goldblum The Grandmaster and Loki in general.

The film functions at its best here where the music, cinematography and set design all come together in to a perfectly mismatched 80s science fiction frenzy. It’s easy to see that Waititi’s style fits perfectly with this setting.

Asgard is where the film lets itself down. Scenes here feel awkward and forced. Whilst sets remain familiar the overall feeling of the location has changed. I hate to compare Asgard to Westeros from Game of Thrones given that franchises own comparisons to the Inhumans series but its true that the two do share a familiar style.

The wordy, regal monologues of Odin and the grandeur of the Asgardian Palace are forsaken for a much lighter approach. Though Hela does bring a sense of dramatic flare to the proceedings it’s still camped up to cartoonish proportions.

The cast of this film is so huge it’s not possible to cover everyone properly in one review. Hemsworth is at his best with this new, diluted Thor. Hiddleston chews as much scenery as he can as Loki and clearly enjoyed making this film the most of all. Mark Rufallo is a standout playing great comedy as both Hulk and Banner.

Blanchett makes for a strong albeit altered Hela. Her appearance is all too brief and underdeveloped. A shame as she is one of the most memorable villains in any of the Marvel movies. Her relationship with Thor feels like an afterthought and as such it never strikes the emotional chord it was designed to.

Anthony Hopkins brief appearance is squandered by Loki masquerading as his father. His character deserved a truly great send off and not the final scene he is given in this film.

Tessa Thompson is a good addition to the cast. Both hers and Karl Urbans accents feel a little over the top but were convincing. The Valkyrie scenes glimpsed in the trailers deserved far more screen time than they were given. Like Blanchett, Karl Urban has little screen time and was deserving of more.

CGI is hit and miss at times. Hulk, of course, looks the best he has ever looked. The motion capture technology has come along so far that Rufallo is still clearly visible whenever in Hulk mode. His interactions with environments and characters are the strongest they have ever been. Likewise this is the most emotion we’ve ever been able to see on his face.

Scenes on Sakaar with multiple CGI characters and enhancements all look great. Whilst scenes in space are also well rendered. Korg and the other prisons of the Grandmaster are given a rendering suitable to give a believable performance.

It is during some of the fight scenes where things go a little wonky. Some characters become very rubbery and movements seem far too fluid. It’s a minor gripe but does jolt you back to reality rather than emerge you in the action. Most notably are actions scenes featuring Hela on Asgard where she appears more like a Stretch Armstrong doll.

Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is terrific. I would go as far as to call it the best score of any of the MCU films to date. The mix of classical score and electronic wizardry perfectly embodies the story and look of the film.

The Thor Ragnarok Suite is a sweeping epic which really evokes the feeling os Asgard. Whilst synth heavy pieces like The Revolution Has Begun and Grandmaster Jam Session are perfect throwbacks to classic 80s movie soundtracks. It is a little underused in the film but if you listen carefully its there and well worth the effort.

Verdict

Thor: Ragnarok is in many ways a literal cartoon. It jettisons the darker side of human emotion in favour of, at times, crass comedy. Though at times enjoyable it feels like a betrayal of the character in the MCU in his third solo outing.

4/10

Thor: Ragnarok is in UK cinemas now and hits North American on November 3rd. Checkout our video playlist in the player below:

About Neil Vagg 848 Articles

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember.

Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men

Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice

Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG