Monkeys Fighting Robots

Tremendous writing and outstanding performances make Thor: Ragnarok a hit.

Summary

This story picks up with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) slaying a fire demon named Surtur and once again saving Asgard. He returns home to find his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), impersonating their father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Apparently, he was sent to Earth to live his final days. When they go to find him, they learn that his death is imminent and that will free their sister Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett). Her plans become quickly known as she plans to bring Ragnarok and destroy Asgard. A battle ensues, and Thor ends up on the planet Sakkar. He’s immediately captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and sold to The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) so that he may battle his reigning champion who has a special connection to Thor (Psst … it’s the Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo).

Thor: Ragnarok

What Worked

Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost all deserve a standing ovation for the storyline they developed. Rather than come up with some hero’s quest, they focused on the absurdity of our favorite Asgardian. What we have is a Thor vs. Hela storyline rife with off the wall moments and great chemistry. Some of the best written moments came when the Hulk and Thor were interacting in the Grandmasters palace. Hemsworth and Ruffalo’s chemistry had moments that reminded me of Gibson and Glover in Lethal Weapon.

Thompson’s was strong, empowered, and a bit of bad ass. She challenges Hemsworth’s character on multiple levels. For more than half of the film, Valkyrie dominates him. It was refreshing to see and enjoyable to watch.

Taika Waititi got more out Hemsworth and Ruffalo than any of the previous Marvel releases. One would have to surmise he saw the clips of Hulk saying “Puny God” after demolishing Loki and Thor being wholly oblivious and realized he could use it to his advantage. Waititi allows these characters to embrace the absurdity of their circumstances. Sakkar is a planet that worships the Hulk in a way no planet would. Ruffalo’s character still believes that he can’t co-exist with the people of Earth. On this battle planet, they have parades that honor him and sculptures made of his likeness. For someone who is feeling low, Sakkar is the perfect pick me up.

Thor has spent the majority of his previous Marvel films being the most dominant character on screen. Now he doesn’t have control of what he can do from one minute to the next. Each of these characters finds humor in their respective circumstances which sets this release apart from any number of the previous films.

Mayes C Rubeo and Beverly Dunn deserve recognition as well. The set designs and costumes in the film were so fun and added another element to the film. The vibrant color choices and the architecture of the Grand Masters palace were highlights for me.

The most prominent part that stood out to me was how conflicted Ruffalo’s character was in the film. It’s easy to see that being the Hulk and Dr. Banner is starting to wear thin. He’s frightened by the idea that he may one day transform and never return. Hopefully, they dive deeper into this narrative during Avengers: Infinity War.

The color palette in this film was terrific and brought such vibrancy to each scene.

Blanchett’s portrayal of Hela is twisted and stands out as one of the best villains in the Marvel universe to date.

The cameos are some of the best of any Marvel film.

What Didn’t Work

Thor: Ragnarok has some elements of predictability to the plot.

Overall

Thor: Ragnarok is the first Marvel release that made me want to start reading comic books. Waititi’s approach has created a film which is full of visual splendor yet rooted in Thor’s rich history. No one needs to be a comic book historian to enjoy this release. The bottom line is the film is highly entertaining and should be seen ASAP.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Acting
Writing
Directing
Costuming
Production Design
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.
Due to a clever narrative and tremendous performances, 'Thor: Ragnarok' exceeds all expectations. thor-ragnarok