Thor: Ragnarok is probably the most entertaining movie I’ve ever seen that left me with more questions than I started with.
I’ll try to make this as spoiler-free as I can.
So, Thor: Ragnarok.
To be honest, I can give you a review in just one sentence: It’s one crazy-sauced film, and you should definitely go see it. With that said, let me give you a little more.
If you hadn’t noticed from the trailers, posters or even just the titling, Marvel’s third installment of the Lord of Thunder is vastly different from its Asgardian predecessors. The first Thor was pretty standard for Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Plenty of superhero feel and great action. It was more fantasy than most other MCU movies, but it stayed pretty conservative with the way the Asgardians of lore were portrayed. And, they kept what we saw limited to how the Asgardians interacted with Earth almost exclusively.
Of course, Dark World was darker and more ominous. It didn’t play as well in the theaters, which may be because of the darker feel, the way Jane Foster’s character was weakened by turning her into more of a damsel in distress, or because the movie just wasn’t written as well. Or, maybe even a combination of those things. It did have it’s funny moments, like with Dr. Selvig and Jane Foster’s assistant Darcy, but it was still one of, if not THE, most subdued of the MCU flicks.
Ragnarok, on the other hand, is nothing like either of those films. Or really any other MCU film. It’s almost like the film’s director, Taika Waititi, looked at A Dark World and said, “Let’s do the exact opposite of that.” This flick is colorful, loud and extremely comic-booky! And it gives us a bit of a wider feel for the universe outside of Earth and Asgard.
Yes, some aspects are similar to the feel of Guardians of the Galaxy. But what Guardians did really well at, Ragnarok sometimes goes off the rails with. Not that that is a bad thing.
Yes, Guardians also shows us the universe outside of Earth, but what it shows is not terribly crazy. Yes, there is Xandar, but it pretty much looks like a futuristic Earth. Most of the places in Guardians don’t feel too crazy. Well, except for the golden Sovereign people. They’re pretty nuts.
Sakaar, on the other hand, is far more reminiscent of Pandora from the Borderlands video games (not the blue-people Pandora). This is a junk world at the ass-end of the galaxy. A place where futuristic buildings look like cobbled together piece of ship parts and futuristic shipping containers. And smack dab in the middle of it all is a MASSIVE gladiatorial arena run by a psychotic egomaniac.
On the ride home, my family deconstructed the movie, looking for hints to other things going on. (Honestly, we spent a good 35 minutes talking about the Infinity Stones and the—in my opinion—awesome resolution to the two Infinity Gauntlets issue that seems to have bugged many an MCU conspiracy theorist.) One of the things we liked was how much more laid back and fun Thor was, as a character. We came to the conclusion that every time we’ve seen him before, he was much more serious. This could be attributed to the fact that he has that weight of someday taking Odin’s place as King of Asgard. That’s a heavy burden. But by the end of Dark World, he’s given that up, so when Ragnarok comes around, he feels relaxed and seems to have grown as a character. And Chris Hemsworth definitely does Odinson justice in this.
But, Thor isn’t the only great character. I saw someone online say (paraphrasing) that Jeff Goldblum’s The Grand Master was the most Jeff Goldblummy character ever, and I totally agree. He’s crazy and completely fun in that way that only Jeff Goldblum can be.
Loki is, of course, Loki. For once, Tom Hiddleston’s incarnation of the God of Mischief is, while great, relegated to the sidelines. From him, we mostly get reactions to everything else. (Until the end. Spoilers…) Don’t get me wrong though, some of those reactions are in the top five moments of the flick. Honestly, when Loki sees _________ get _________ by _________, I totally laughed out loud and clapped. It was AWESOME.
Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie was a very welcome addition to the Thorverse. She’s a hard-drinking, take no shit kind of badass who does a great job of holding her own against the God of Thunder, himself. I like that her history is a little complex and dark, making her a little bit deeper of a character than some of the side characters. And she’s completely unapologetic about it.
Finally, we come to Hela. So, it’s tough to say this, because every character was strong and fun, but Cate Blanchett stole the show as Hela. I mean, she’s pure badass on so many levels. She’s dark, powerful and sexy. But she does not need to use anything other than her simple ability to kick ass to get things done. And damn does she kick ass. Also, here is where Waititi gives us some deeper story. Not to get too spoilery, but Hela is a fantastic vehicle for stripping away some of the veneer of Asgard. Marvel has always glossed over the Viking legends, giving them a shiny and noble appearance. Hela’s appearance shakes Marvel’s utopian Asgard to its ancient core.
Let’s not forget the green elephant in the room. Hulk. If any of the characters gives Hela a run for her money on dominating the screen, it’s Hulk. What I love is that we can clearly see that Hulk himself is evolving. He’s still angry all the time, but he’s not just blind rage anymore. There’s a bit more to him than that. He has some of the best bits in the movie, comedy-wise.
There are, of course, other things that are great about this movie, but I can’t go into much more detail without giving parts of the movie away, and I really don’t want to do that. I feel like there were some parts that were a little predictable, but others that were really not. And that’s okay. In fact, I think great movies weave a fine web of predictability and unpredictability. And for me, this is a great movie. Like Iron-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Civil War, I will be happily able to watch this movie over and over again.
I did say, though, that this movie left me with more questions than I started with, and that’s true. There are still some questions with how the Hulk got to Sakaar, where Lady Sif is, What Thor’s been doing this whole time, and who’s ________ is that at the end of Ragnarok? However, all of these are but shadows to the one big question that an army of MCU fans has in their collective heads, and that’s regarding the Infinity War with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Ragnarok gives us a massive tease regarding this. But I can’t tell you… Because spoilers.
As far as the Mad Titan goes, he has most of his chessboard pieces set. The purple Power Stone is on Xandar, where the Guardians entrusted it to the Nova Corps. The green Time Stone is in the Eye of Agamotto, that wicked amulet hanging from Dr. Strange’s neck. The yellow Mind Stone is in the center of Vision’s forehead (after Ultron ripped it out of Loki’s scepter). The red Reality Stone is presumably still where the Asgardians put it, in The Collector’s possession.
Next comes the blue Space Stone, otherwise known as the Tesseract. This is the first stone that was introduced into the MCU in The Avengers. Last we saw, Thor took it back to Asgard and had it secured in Odin’s vault (Notably not far from his Infinity Gauntlet). And while I don’t want to get spoilery, that is where it is at the START of Ragnarok. As far as after? Well… you have to watch the movie for that one.
That leaves just one stone left. The orange Soul Stone.This one has yet to be revealed in the MCU. According to Polygon, Kevin Feige has said that the stone will appear in Phase 3 of Marvel’s big plan, but with only Black Panther coming out before the Infinity War starts, it’s likely we’ll see it appear in either Infinity War 1 or in Captain Marvel, which comes out between the two IW movies.
So, Thor Ragnarok… go see it? Hell yes. It’s fun, it’s crazy and it’s a helluva ride. Totally worth the $11 per person we paid to see it. Hell, I’d probably pay to go see it again.