Monday, November 6, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This is the third Marvel movie of the year...I'm really getting my fix in 2017.

Thor:  Ragnarok – 5 out of 5

It’s no secret that I love my comic books and superheroes!  Every time one of these gets announced or there’s a trailer, I get super pumped.  Doesn’t matter if it is DC or Marvel, my excitement level for each of them is high.  Granted, the DC movies have been disappointing as of late (mostly just Batman v Superman and Suicide SquadWonder Woman and Man of Steel I loved) but I still am a junkie for these fun, action-packed features.  Since its inception with Iron Man in 2008, I’ve seen the same level of quality and entertainment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this latest; Thor:  Ragnarok, is just another notch in Marvel’s belt.  Honestly, this is the best of all three Thor films and probably in my top five of all the MCU movies.

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Well, Point Break, you still look awesome even without your long golden locks.

After his visions in Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been relentlessly searching for the Infinity Stones.  During this journey, he learns from the fire demon Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) that Ragnarok, the prophesized destruction of Thor’s world, is about to take place now that Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) no longer resides there.  Shocked, Thor returns to his home to find that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has removed Odin from power and, in doing so, caused the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett) to be freed.  The Goddess successfully banishes both brothers to the garbage planet of Sakaar where Loki seeks favor with its ruler; Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and Thor is forced to fight in the arena for the entertainment of the masses.  While there, Thor learns that Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), has also been marooned on the planet.  Now he seeks to form an alliance with the raging green monster, his mischievous brother, and a fallen warrior from Asgard (Tessa Thompson) in order to stop Hela from taking the throne for herself.

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The lines on Valkyrie's face are the result of a misunderstanding the likes of
a Pepe Le Pew cartoon...only without the uncomfortable sexual assault undertones.

When I heard that Taika Waititi was directing the new Thor movie, I was very behind this move by Marvel Studios.  I immediately became a fan of the guy after watching What We Do in the Shadows and was extremely excited to see what he could do for a comic book action film—especially one with such massive mythology attached to it.  This is the thing I keep finding impressive about the MCU:  The studio gets directors who you wouldn’t normally associate with big budget, franchise comic book features and gets them to make something that feels familiar with the rest of the universe but also has enough of their watermark attached that you can see the individuality of the director.  

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
And he supplied a lot of those laughs himself as this character!

Waititi just blew me away with this film from nearly every aspect as he presented a movie that was visually stunning but was able to take the story and be exciting, epic and fun all at the same time.  I especially loved the use of primary colors and the synthesizer heavy score.  Waititi was able to bring these elements in and use them to an extent where they felt more like a throwback married in the modern era of filmmaking rather than trying to make something to appeal entirely to nostalgia (I really hate nostalgia, it’s so toxic).  Additionally, Waititi has an amazing perspective when it concerned comedic timing and was able to take the humor and really make it shine—and this movie is really funny!

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Civil War gave us the buddies of Falcon and Bucky and now this one gives
us Thor and Hulk.  Marvel, make a buddies on vacation comedy with these fours.

Every Marvel movie has its amusing moments and gags feathered into its action but this one really plays up the comedy and it works.  The mythology around a lot of Marvel’s cosmic characters seem really silly when you take a step back and Ragnarok was able to have a little more fun with the wielder of Mjolnir than the other films have.  Never did I feel like this emphasis on humor took away from the drama, action or heart of Thor’s journey but, instead, enhanced it and was able to not only showcase just how funny Chris Hemsworth can be (not that it is the first time he’s be able to show that skill).  Waititi was able to direct a film that was funny from beginning to end but also had some truly epic action and was able to highlight the character’s development and the more emotional moments just as well.  It was very similar to James Gunn’s work with Guardians of the Galaxy in that it’s a non-stop fun ride that doesn’t go light on the action or heart and is capable of bringing in some decent drama when needed.

                                                     Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Very sneaky, Marvel.  Getting around Universal's ownership of the Hulk by making
Thor's movie an adaptation of Planet Hulk.

As for the cast, this movie is just jam packed with talent.  Aside from the very fun cameos (which I won’t mention because of Spoilers), the cast all has this natural feeling chemistry and they are all playing well off each other.  Jeff Goldblum is just wicked fun as Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson is badass as Valkyrie, Karl Urban is really great as the Asgardian who aligns himself with Hela; Skurge, and it was just a treat to hear Waititi as the alien Korg.  Additionally, Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Ruffalo continue to show that they are these Marvel characters inside and out and their interactions look and feel like second nature at this point.  I also liked seeing Idris Elba as Heimdall get a little more screen time and a little more chance to shine as the character than he did in the previous two films.  Finally, Cate Blanchett was awesome as Hela.  I will admit that the character does suffer from the “generic comic book villain” syndrome that is so synonymous with so many comic book films but I can’t deny how captivating she was to watch.  I’ll be honest, I think I’m in love with her as Hela.  Sticking with that honesty, I think I’m in love with Hemsworth as Thor too.  Of course, that just could be love that came from jealousy because I wish I was even a quarter as handsome as he is.  He’s even charming too.  It’s like he was created in a lab to be the most desirable person in all of existence.  It’s not fair, I tell ya!

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I want to hate you, Hemsworth, but you're so amazing it's impossible.

Any drawbacks to this film were very minor.  I already mentioned that Hela does feel very generic and doesn’t have a lot of depth to her.  She has history with Odin and has a special connection to Thor and Loki but, beyond that, she’s not the most dynamic villain in the MCU.  Finally, as much as I loved this film, the story does feel a tad unfocused as it is pulling from several popular stories from the comic book universe and that kinda makes the film feel a tad like two cohesive stories married into one.  Hela’s takeover of Asgard feels like one film and the events on Sakaar feel like another film and they were just edited together into one final product.  It’s not a terrible thing or a distraction but there is a long period of time where Hela’s antics are not documented or developed and it was easy to forget that she was still the main threat.  

                                                    Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I'm still in love with you, Hela, and will serve you forever!

My complaints are incredibly minor with Thor:  Ragnarok and they didn’t stop me from having a great time watching it.  I was enthralled with the story, captivated by the visuals and the mood-altering score, was very impressed with the special effects and action, thought the performances were fantastic and laughed my behind off with the comedy.  Without a doubt and in my opinion, this is the funniest MCU film so far, the best of all three Thor films, and in my top five of all the Marvel movies.

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