Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Thor Ragnarok

The Thor Trilogy takes a tonal shift with its third installment as the Marvel film magnates have decided they want to pull people in by making it more like the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy.  The result is a conclusion of the somewhat mythological story of Asgard mashed with humour-filled, cosmic wackiness.  As it turns out, this proves to be quite entertaining.

Let’s not fool ourselves; Thor Ragnarok is certainly entertaining, but that’s really all it is.  There’s not much here other than a good time at the theater, but it is very successful at providing that good time.  Chris Hemsworth has really dug into his role as Marvel’s resident god of thunder, touching on the more playful aspects of Thor that we saw bits and pieces of in his first film.    He is joined again my Loki, who is really only in the movie because he’s a fan favourite, Hela his unknown sister, the villain who is only notable because she is played by Cate Blanchet, and eventually a new sidekick named Valkyrie.  Oh, and the Hulk, which would have been a great surprise if it weren’t for this hype-obsessed movie culture we now occupy.

The movie is full of laughs and wacky situations.  Thor ends up on a junkyard planet ruled by Jeff Goldblum.  How is Jeff Goldblum in this movie, you ask?  My response is to chuckle at you and say “He’s Jeff Goldblum. What more do you need to know?”  On this planet he is captured and turned into a gladiator, where he runs into our long lost Hulk.  Turns out Hulk has been there for two years without ever turning into Bruce Banner.  This gives us a lot of Hulk-Thor interactions, which a lot of people were clamoring far (though I didn’t like as much).  We also get a rock monster with a New Zealand accent.

Now while this humour provides for a good time, it also undercuts a lot of the dramatic moments in the story.  There is a strong example of this at the end where something very major happens which should have been given a reflective moment by Thor and others. Instead it was used as some throw away jokes by Kiwi Rock Monster, and therefore the moment had absolutely no emotion behind it, essentially rendering the entire three-movie arc void somehow.  This kind of stuff happened a lot; the filmmakers felt they couldn’t just let moments exist without a joke.  This was the same problem Guardians 2 had earlier this year.

I also really feel like the Marvel tie-ins are getting to the point where they are detracting from the movie, where they used to be fun easter eggs.  The scene where they arrive at Earth and have an encounter with someone is a strong example of this.  It really felt out of place, and only there because that’s just what they do now.

Another problem I have is how Thor’s power, and the power of other characters, is really undefined.  What exactly are Thor’s superpowers?  he’s really strong and has an awesome hammer, but otherwise this movie just gives him whatever powers are necessary for the situation.  Either that or is DOESN’T give him powers for the situation, like how he can’t escape a seemingly  petty electronic zapper to keep him captive.  Hela just seems to be ridiculously destructive with undefined powers, which isn’t interesting either.  Superheroes work best when they work within constraints, and Marvel is really losing sight of that.

Wow, this review is getting really long. Sorry about that.  But I have one more thing to mention.  Thor 3 really made me pontificate on the state of special effects in movies today.  We are now past the point when anything is possible to do with CGI, including gladiatorial matches with the Hulk, a planet full of junk towers and wormholes, and giant flame monsters destroying cities.  But we are also at the point where its so much it is just numbing.  The spectacle is so abundant and excessive that it has actually disappeared.   We are not wowed anymore.  That just saddens me a bit.  I know I made similar comments after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, but its something that this movie made very apparent to me as well.

Wow, I really seem to be talking down my rating.  I was going to give it an 8, but I am going to drop that to a 7, and not sure that it wont dip over time when the neon sheen has worn off.

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