By Erik Jimenez
Critically and commercially, the previous two Thor solo films, “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World,” are considered black sheep with neither getting the same love of Marvel’s other movie series such as “Captain America” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
I feel that the films have some positive qualities to them, most of which involve being a part of the grander Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I was excited to see what “What We Do In The Shadows” Director Taika Waititi would do with the world of Asgard. After watching Thor’s newest adventure, it makes me ask if we can have all of our Superhero movies made by New Zealand directors, especially if they are this much fun.
Set two years after the events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to his home of Asgard to discover his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has been impersonating their father and ruling over its denizens.
Thor demands to know where his father is and it turns out that Loki sent him to Earth and shoved him in a retirement home. (And if you think I’m ruining the joke, don’t worry, that’s not even the half of it.)
They eventually manage to locate him and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and he warn them that Hela, Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), is coming back to rule Asgard due to his power being weakened on Earth, thus he cannot hold her back any longer.
She returns and destroys Thor’s hammer and he and Loki are sent spiraling through the Bifrost and blown offtrack which leads them both to end up on the planet Sakaar, where Thor is forced to fight in Gladitorial battles to the death for entertainment.
Visually, the film is easily the most bright and colorful of the trilogy. Asgard looks relatively the same as we saw it in the previous films, but the planet Sakaar is a marvel of colors and sights that it genuinely feels like Thor is out of his environment.
It also helps that it is populated by many fun characters. Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is really just Jeff Goldblum being his Goldblumiest, but that’s why you hire Jeff Goldblum to do.
Tessa Thompson’s alcoholic Valkyrie is another fun and bada–character that has great chemistry with Chris Hemsworth whose Thor in this film has given into Hemsworth comedic chops. The other actors fit well into their parts again, especially Hiddleston’s Loki and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk.
Did I forget to mention the Hulk is in this movie? Well he is and he’s great as always, the best scenes of action involve him, including the much-hyped Arena fight between him and Thor, which ranks amongst some of the best of the action scenes in the MCU so far.
The chemistry between Thor and Banner (who stays in his Hulk form for most of the film) feels like an ‘80s buddy cop film throughout their scenes. They are honestly the comedic highlight for me.
This film also beats “The Guardians of the Galaxy” films for most comedic Marvel film. Which is surprising because content wise, this is probably one of, if not the, darkest film the MCU has done. And that mainly comes from the villain Hela and just the amount of destruction she lays on Asgard.
Cate Blanchett’s performance brings Hela near the forefront of the MCU’s (admittedly underwhelming) villain roster and that’s because she has such an impact on Thor’s world that this truly feels like the last true Thor film we’re going to have in the MCU.
I don’t wish to spoil who dies, but so many of fan favorite Asgardian characters are killed in this film that it feels like the Asgard sections of this film were written by George R. R. Martin. Except every time someone dies, it’s immediately followed by a great punchline.
That’s what makes “Thor: Ragnarok” so great over another recent film that tried this type of dark comedy and failed, like “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” Unlike “Kingsman,” “Thor” doesn’t take itself seriously. As a result, it’s much easier to accept all the carnage that we see on screen.
I’m not sure if I could place Thor in my top five Marvel films, but it’s clearly in the upper half of all the MCU movies. It’s good to see Thor get that one great film he deserves and hopefully Taika Waititi can springboard off this film and make more big blockbusters. I’d love to see what he can do next in Hollywood.
Screen Skeptic is a column by Erik Jimenez reviewing the latest movies in theaters. The views and options in this column do not reflect that of FIU Student Media’s.