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Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to asgard to stop Ragnarok-the destruction of his homeworld and the end of asgardian civilization-at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger-the Incredible Hulk! Thor: Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.
In Marvel Studios' THOR: RAGNAROK, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok -- the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger -- the Incredible Hulk!
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That panel, assembled at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, gave away the tone of the movie. Although, you only had to look at who's directing to suss out that this one won't be a shining specimen of sober Shakespearean dramaturgy. I think when Taita Waititi was a young lad and realized he had that silly kind of name, he gave up all aspirations of being a somber person. Taita Waititi, who directed five episodes of The Inbetweeners, is given steerage of a blockbuster Marvel movie and drives it like a boss. Those saying Thor: Ragnarok is the best Marvel movie ever, calm down. Ragnarok lacks the gravitas of, say, Captain America: Winter Soldier. What makes Ragnarok so spectacular is also what sinks it some. Me, I laughed my ass off start to finish. I thought every jokey flourish worked. But I agree that the sheer breadth of levity comes at the occasional expense of genuine emotion and a disservicing of the high stakes involved. Still, Thor: Ragnarok is incredibly fun. It's better than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Not to say that there weren't genuine emotions worked in. There are serious, serious stakes. You only have to glance at the movie title. I say Thor, of all the core Marvel heroes, ends up being the one who suffers the most loss. I didn't even think of that until much after the movie, because when the movie was going on, I was too busy chortling and trying not to spray soda and popcorn from my nose. Thor: Ragnarok is Marvel's take on the buddy comedy and the road picture. For those who were grumbling that Thor is always tooling around on Earth, well, he's only on Earth for two minutes. Most times, he's gallivanting around either on Asgard or in deep space, and this is where the Jack Kirby influence is the most felt. Praise Taika Waititi, who directed Eagle vs. Shark, for doing honor to King Kirby. This movie is a riot of bold imagery and vivid colors, and never more so than during Thor's time on Sakaar, a junk planet what's home to the lost and unloved and, also, site to the Grandmaster's gladiatorial Contest of Champions. The Grandmaster is played by Jeff Goldblum at his most Jeff Goldblumy. This is a wonderful thing.
Timeline: It's been two years since the Age of Ultron, and we get caught up to what the Hulk's been up to and what Thor's been up to. We learn that when Thor wasn't hanging with his Aussie roomie, Darryl, he was out and about searching for Infinity Stones. Thor: Ragnarok quickly ties up loose ends left dangled from Thor: The Dark World. Loki's impersonating Odin. Where Thor and Jane are at. Or, put another way, Thor: Ragnarok ruthlessly discards the excess baggage in Thor's universe. There are other call backs that I'd be a real jerk to mention, so I won't, except there's something that Thor says to Hulk when they meet in the arena that had me cracking up.
One question not addressed: Where in heck was Lady Sif?
There are more nods to Planet Hulk than I'd dared hoped. I love the hell out of Korg, the stone guy with the self-effacing kiwi accent who is voiced by Taika Waititi himself. I would say that Korg steals the movie, except that everyone gets a turn stealing the movie. Chris Hemsworth proves again that he's got impeccable comic timing. An enduring strength of the Thor series has always been the sibling rivalry dynamic between Thor and Loki. Hemsworth and Hiddleston are always great together. Cate Blanchett seems very aware of what kind of movie she's in. It's obvious she revels in playing the irredeemable goddess of death, but she takes care to not cross over into self-caricature.
Who's the most badass in the movie? It's not Thor or Hela or even the Hulk. My two cents is that it's "Scrapper 142," as fleshed out by a sultry, swaggering Tessa Thompson who, from memorable entrance to last shot, is simply tremendous. While most other characters are, in one form or another, bound to a role they must play, Scrapper 142 is one character who is given liberty to have an arc that can go wherever.
Off the top of my head, other things I love: The Flash Gordon-type synth score. The Immigrant Song finding its way from trailer to movie. Several unexpected cameos. The "Help Me" ploy. The Thor-Hulk bromance. Hulk now with the vocabulary of a sulky two-year-old.
In a movie that brims with snappy lines, my favorite - and I don't know why - is Thor's jab at Surtur: "Oh, that's a crown. I thought it was a big eyebrow." Heh.
If you do a binge-viewing of all three Thor movies, you may get whiplash from the tonal transition from Thor: The Dark World to Thor: Ragnarok. This may be the funniest Marvel movie yet. It's easily the best Thor movie. I reiterate that the relentlessness of the humor does undercut the movie's several dips into melodramatic content. In spite of that, I love this movie lots. This is a self-aware movie that delivers on giddy fan service, and I mean "fan service" in the best way. The action is grandiose and bombastic. Thor comes into his own as a Thunder God. And the Hulk still comes off as the most viable response to an extinction-level threat. Man, just go see the movie. It'll turn your frown upside down. My eyeballs hurt from never blinking, that's how much I didn't want to miss out on anything, and I probably did anyway. This movie comes at you fast.
If you're inclined, stick around for a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene.
Some parting stuff, and a ***SPOILERS*** alert now:
- I wasn't down with how the movie spends so much time emasculating Loki; I thought it weakened his character some
- Karl Urban's Skurge starts off great but then gets stuck in a one-note rut
- When Thor goes into thunder god mode and starts crackling with electricity, that must've been a hell of an insulated chip on his neck to not get shorted out
- Stan Lee is the worst barber ever
- I hope, hope, hope we get Straczynski’s Asgard in Oklahoma story arc
- I want to go out the way Odin goes out, with a gentle poof of glitter
We find Thor (Chris Hemsworth) suspended in a cage in some hellish cave speaking to someone catching us up on his present predicament. Turns out the ‘someone’ is the skeleton of some previous prisoner in the same cage, hardly reassuring. What follows however is an almost non-stop action/adventure tale with continuous laughs that I thoroughly enjoyed. Asgard is in trouble, Odin’s dead, Thor’s estranged sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) the goddess of death has come to claim the throne and she’s a force to be reckoned with. Thor escapes his cage only to return home to find half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) masquerading as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and enjoying life but is soon on the run from his power hungry and formidable sister. He ends up captured again by an entertainment impresario of sorts; The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who stages gladiatorial combat for the masses (like WWE on a more primitive and lethal scale). His champion fighter is none other than the MIA Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and the two have a rocky reunion. We also have on hand Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson, a long way from her ‘Veronica Mars’ days) as a reluctant ally. There’s a bunch of ‘other realm’ and Asgardian mumbo jumbo but it all works if you just relax and let the story carry you along.
Awesome battle sequences and a rocking soundtrack make this the best of the Thor trilogy. So, if you want a break from some of the doom and gloom that often drags down this genre then “Thor- Rangarok” is definitely for you.
In it, the God of Thunder is trying to save Asgard from destruction while, at the same time, dealing with two siblings (Loki and Hela) who are - to say the least - not terribly well balanced. There's plenty of action in this movie, but also a lot of funny dialogue to even out the high-adrenaline moments.
The special effects are well done, a hallmark of Marvel films, and the direction is smooth. The writing is above par, though there are moments that drag a little here and there.
One special note: This movie shows once again just how very talented actor Karl Urban really is. As a corrupt Asgardian, he brings just the right amount of sleaze to his role in this film. Compare that with his performances as the straight arrow CIA agent in RED and as Dr. Leonard McCoy in the Star Trek franchise and you can clearly see that he is one of Hollywood's finest character actors.
A very good movie which, though not a classic, is fun to watch.