29 October 2017 | mt-95256
Packed with Marvel references, gorgeous action and more genuine laughs than most comedies, Thor: Ragnarok is an absolute blast!
After a total of seventeen films in less than ten years, it's pretty safe to say that Marvel has safely established itself as a popular, successful franchise with its own identity. Known for comedy, references to its other films and comics, and epic, fun action, every Marvel film is at least enjoyable. However, there are some that peak; some that can be included in the best Marvel films - and sometimes best films in the superhero genre. Films like this are the first Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy - and also Thor: Ragnarok. Definitely a highlight so far in the Marvel anthology, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best, delivering everything you want and expect with a little bit more, brimming with fun, personality and action.
Anyone who's seen director Taika Waititi's vampire-comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows will likely expect his inimitable and delightful brand of humour to extend to his Marvel entry (perhaps they've learned since getting rid of Edgar Wright from Ant-Man). It's fortunate that he kept his comedy as it really delivers and fits in well with the comedic personality that Marvel has crafted itself; some of their best films are also, by no coincidence, also the funniest (something DC fails with) and Waititi has continued this trend, while keeping the laughs fresh and genuinely funny. Not that this is a out-and-out comedy - not all the jokes are intended to make you laugh out loud; but they never feel forced and all lend themselves to the personality of the film (and the franchise) and really maximise the fun we have watching the movie. After all, this is a film about a traditional Norse God as a superhero fighting alongside a big, angry, green rage monster - it's important to have fun with it!
'Fun' is certainly one of the best words to describe Thor: Ragnarok and it doesn't extend to just the laughs. Other enjoyable elements include references to the wider MCU to excite geeks and non-geeks alike. They all fit in well and seamlessly, not a shoehorned, forced reference or cameo; they all seem organic and make sense to the plot. It's delightful to see Dr Strange, even just for one scene, and to be able to spy glimpses of the Tesseract and a fake Infinity Gauntlet. These add to the rewatch value in a few years time.
The crazy, kinetic action really does extend to the whole of the film, from beginning to end, each sequence excellently choreographed. It doesn't shy away from its roots from comics as some of the fights are just as delightfully eccentric and over-the- top. Still they never cease to entertain and, more than that, some are just stunning to behold; the flashback to Valkyrie battling Hela the first time, her army atop a hoard of winged horses soaring through an orange sky only to be cut down by swords and spikes flying towards them in slow- motion. These are gorgeous scenes and Waititi and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe should be proud; the beauty of some of Zack Snyder's superhero moments, but in a good film with much more personality.
Most of this movie's joy lies in its characters though; at the end of the day, it might be funny and the action might look cool, but if we don't love the characters, we won't love the film. Back again we get the usual ensemble of returning characters - Thor, Loki, Odin and Heimdall. All are as regal, fun and charismatic as ever, Hemsworth and Hiddleston in particular; it's wonderful to see these actors develop their characters over the last few films into lovable parts in a franchise full of heroes we already love. I feel Hopkins deserved a little more screen time and a chance to get more emotional, but, ever the professional, he makes the most with what he has (and is exceptionally good as Loki pretending to be Odin). Returning characters from elsewhere in the MCU Dr Strange and Hulk also add to the delightful ensemble; it's nice to see Strange solidifying his presence in the franchise after just one film (particularly when comparing to Tony Stark having been in six so far, not including post-credit cameos). It's a relief too to finally give Hulk a decent amount of screen time and for us to get to know him as opposed to just Banner; they're two distinct characters within each other and it's about time we get to see more of everyone's favourite rage monster.
The new characters introduced in this film are all excellent worthy additions to the Marvel roster and bring a refreshing touch with them. Tessa Thompson is excellent and charismatic as kick-ass female hero Valkyrie, able to confidently stand among Thor, Hulk and Loki. Korg may not be quite the same character he is in the comics, but Waititi takes this part (who wouldn't give themselves a minor role in the MCU if they can?!) and really makes it his own, saving lots of the quirky laughs for himself. Cate Blanchett too is a particularly fantastic villain, sure to stand amongst the best Marvel villains so far, heads and shoulders above the likes of Malekith and Ronan. She's less generic, less monologue-y and never boring; able to kick ass and be just as evilly sexy as Helena Bonham-Carter was as Bellatrix (or is that just me...?). And of course there's Jeff Goldblum who's as Jeff Goldblum as he's ever been - who doesn't love that?!
Thor proves himself to be the God of Thunder and Thor: Ragnarok proves itself to be one of the Gods of Marvel, standing proud amongst the best so far. The whole movie's an absolute blast, packed with references, gorgeous action and more genuine laughs than most comedies. An excellent film to round off Marvel in 2017 - let's hope Black Panther keeps up this level of excellence.