Movie Review: “Thor: Ragnarok” – Good God!

Written by Jeremiah Greville November 10, 2017

Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok

Finally, another entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Yes, I know, it’s the third official theatrical offering this year, not counting its small-screen siblings. But that doesn’t bother me — the MCU has been an unprecedented film success, and an absolute treat for the past ten years. Thor: Ragnarok completes the final trilogy of Marvel’s ‘Big Three’ – Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. It’s a loving swan-song to a unique corner of the MCU, and sets the stage for several characters going into next years Avengers: Infinity War. You could do worse for a date night movie than Thor: Ragnarok. It’s fun, funny, charming, and full of life — heck, it might just be better than the person you’re seeing it with!

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest superhero adventure from Marvel Studios, and the fifth Marvel film to star Chris Hemsworth as Thor. It’s the sequel to Thor, and Thor: The Dark World, and is easily the best of Marvel’s space-god trilogy. Here, Thor finds himself in a dire position as Hela, the Goddess of Death, has come to destroy his home of Asgard. Thor: Ragnarok also stars Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. There are more to mention, and several returning faces, but it’s worth noting that every single actor shines. Thor: Ragnarok is a special film — a fun, engaging blockbuster with energy rarely seen in cinema these days.

“Yes! That’s how it feels!”

Full disclosure: I’m a die-hard MCU fan, and have read comic books all my life. This isn’t an exaggeration — for a time when I was a child we even lived above an actual comic book shop in small town Ontario. I mention this because it’s hard to critique a film like Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a joyous, kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes that left me completely amazed, but a part of that is certainly my own personal bias. If you’re a fully-fledged fan of the MCU, then I think you’ll leave the theatre delighted. But if you’re still not sold on the grand Marvel experiment, or your tastes run closer to their Distinguished Competition, you might want to read on to see if this film’s for you.

Thor and Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok

Another reason Thor: Ragnarok is difficult to review is that it’s a collection of wonderful moments that can’t be spoiled. There are so, so many delightful cameos and little jokes throughout the run-time of this film. You owe it to yourself to leave as much of the good stuff a surprise as possible. Director Taika Waititi pokes loving fun at the previous Thor movies and the MCU. Yet he also threads a considerable amount of pathos and emotional growth through the film. Like Iron Man 2, Thor: Ragnarok is a collection of entertaining moments. Unlike Iron Man 2, it weaves those moments into something greater, and doesn’t let them overwhelm the narrative.

“I thought you might be happy to see me.”

One of the criticisms — or at the very least, observations — that I’ve heard repeatedly since its release is that Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t have high enough stakes. Again, this is where your familiarity with the MCU might affect your opinion. No, Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t have high stakes or much of a lasting effect on the broader MCU. However, it does have surprisingly lasting effects on Thor and his immediate supporting cast. Which way your verdict falls depends entirely on your view of the film as a standalone feature, the conclusion to a trilogy, or another part of an ongoing series. For my money, I haven’t seen such lasting dramatic changes to a character since either of the last two Captain America films.

Thor: Ragnarok - Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth

However, that’s not to say that the criticism is completely without merit. With the stakes so high for Thor’s supporting cast, it’s a bit strange looking back that so much of the second act of the film is devoted to humour. This is only a problem in hindsight, though, and one that’s explained just the same. Thor’s funny reactions and one-liners extend from his bewilderment with his situation. When you’re watching the film, these aren’t even problems. The pacing is smooth enough that each moment of pain or joy never feels out of place or unearned. And yes, there is plenty of both.

“Piss off, ghost!”

Hemsworth demonstrated some comedy chops in last year’s Ghostbusters remake, but in Thor: Ragnarok he proves himself a major comedic talent. It’s no accident that the four biggest leading men of the MCU — Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, and now Chris Hemsworth, all have strong comedic timing and backgrounds. Yet up until now, most have considered Hemsworth the weakest link. Here, he proves how wrong we all were, and just how funny he can be when given the chance. Thor drives the film, and gets just as many laughs as any other character. Whether it’s apocalyptic action or intimate drama, Hemsworth’s charm and delivery carries the movie.

Thor and Loki in Thor: Ragnarok

Though it’s the newcomers to the Thor series that steal the show. Goldblum’s Grandmaster is a fully-channelled weird comic delight, while Waititi’s motion-captured Korg will quickly become one of your favourite characters. Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett, meanwhile, both leap off of the screen with titanic personalities that capture the clear fun they’re having on set. And Mark Ruffalo’s now-talkative Hulk has some of the best lines in the film. Comparatively, Tom Hiddleston fares a bit worse than the rest. He’s just as good as you remember, but has changed the least from his previous appearances. This, however, is a consequence of the narrative, and an important part of the film’s story.

“I’m on a different path now.”

Honestly, as difficult as it is to critique Thor: Ragnarok as a Marvel fan, I’m still left searching for major flaws. And if you have to search very hard for flaws in a movie, that usually means the film is good. Yes, at the end of the day, it’s still a Marvel film and follows the same formula as the rest. But it’s also a unique vision in an existing universe, and a complete tonal change to an existing franchise. It’s a star-bound tale of gods and death and friendship and family, filled with endless humour and fun. The fact that it stands out as uniquely original among seventeen other MCU films is astounding. If you’re interested at all, you owe it to yourself to go see it in theatres.

Thor: Ragnarok is simply great.

My Rating: 8/10

Thor Ragnarok Poster

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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