- This is the third Thor movie in the franchise and it’s very different. The laughs and weird moments are what you’ll remember most. But sadly Cate Blanchett as the villain is one-note and is often just doing a strange, Enchantress from “Suicide Squad” walk. (Come on, Marvel!)
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.
It seems after two “Thor” movies, Marvel decided to do a huge pivot in tone for its third, and thank goodness it did.
Not to say that “Thor” (2011) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) aren’t good – they aren’t the best Marvel movies, but they are definitely watchable – but we all needed a change from the super-serious family drama surrounding the son of Odin.
Enter filmmaker Taika Waititi. Waititi has an outlandish style highlighted in his out-there indie films (“What We Do in the Shadows,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”), and he brought the perfect new feel to Thor.
If you’re a Marvel Cinematic Universe fanatic, you know that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) have been out doing their own things since “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), and didn’t appear in “Captain America: Civil War.” (In “Doctor Strange,” Thor appeared in the end credits.)
In “Ragnarok” (in theaters on Friday) we find out what they’ve been up to.
After a stint trying to track down the Infinity Stones, we find Thor on his way back to his home of Asgard, as word is that Ragnarok, a giant battle foretold to lead to the ultimate destruction of Asgard, is coming. He returns to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ruling the world disguised as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Needing to warn his father about Ragnarok, Thor makes Loki take him to where he left their father. After a funny cameo by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the brothers find Odin, who is on the verge of death. He reveals that there is an even greater evil that’s to come, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the sister they never knew they had. Following a quick battle, Thor and Loki find themselves on the planet Sakaar where they meet a bunch of interesting characters, including Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (voiced by Waititi), Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and Hulk, who has been on the planet for two years. They team up to head back to Asgard to take down Hela.
Sounds like a cut-and-dry Marvel movie, huh?
Well, along with the usual exposition, the movie is filled with deadpan jokes and is-this-scene-really-in-a-Marvel-movie moments. From Thor and Hulk sitting on a bed talking about their feelings, to Goldblum being his most Goldblum, “Ragnarok” is an enjoyable break from the more “serious” issues explored in the MCU.
“Ragnarok” certainly isn’t the first Marvel movie to be fun. All MCU titles have taken pride in having a playful mix of laughs and action (the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” are recent examples).
But what Waititi brings to “Ragnarok” is a step beyond that.
Every funny remark or action in “Ragnarok” is extended further, and what comes out of that is a playful tone that is a nice break to the mind-numbing violence.
It’s also nice to see Hemsworth being allowed to show off his comic chops beyond just a line here or there in the previous two movies.
But that’s not to say the movie is perfect.
There are points when the momentum stops for (ugh) plot. Most of the movie is split up between Thor and his “Revengers” trying to get off Sakaar, and the evil things Hela is doing on Asgard. The shift to the action on Asgard is dull and by-the-numbers.
Sadly, Blanchett doesn’t help in this part of the movie. Like most superhero movie villains, Hela is bland and predictable. Blanchett has a few chances to get in on the fun, and throw out a witty line of two, but often she’s impaling things (or people) with the unlimited swords she can summon and doing a distracting Enchantress from “Suicide Squad” walk.