A Laugh Riot of Epic Proportions
Chris Kavan - wrote on 11/09/17
The new Thor is a whole lot of fun - in fact, I would wager to say that director Taika Waititi has truly created the first Marvel comedy - as Ragnarok has just as many funny moments as action. But that comedy comes at one big expense - depth, because as much as I did enjoy watching Ragnarok unfold, I couldn't help but feel it was wasting its new talent, especially Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban. Still, if you want a good time, you won't find much better than the new Thor - and it is head and shoulder above either of the previous Thor outings.
After an action-packed opening where Thor battles a massive fire incarnate Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown) and takes hit crown (one step in preventing his dreams of Ragnarok from coming to fruition), Thor heads back to Asgard to report his success. While the film doesn't skip out on the jokes even from the beginning, one of the best winks comes early on as Thor witnesses a stage play based on the end of events in Thor: The Dark World (with cameos from Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth and Sam Neill portraying Loki, Thor and Odin respectively). He soon realized that the real Odin is Loki in disguise and quickly susses him out.
Thus we embark on the first buddy comedy team as Thor and Loki head off to find Odin, who Loki left in an old folks home back on Earth. After a visit with Doctor Strange (another cameo from Benedict Cumberbatch and another fun scene), they find Odin in Norway (apt) only to learn he's about to become one with the ether - oh, and also unleash Hela, goddess of death and their older sister, who will be hellbent on conquering the nine realms. Sure enough, as soon as Odin departs, Hela emerges and Loki gives her exactly what she wants when he summons the Bifrost and all three begin their trip back to Asgard. But only Hela makes it (and makes quick work of the Warriors Three) while Loki and Thor are flung to the ass-end of the universe, Sakaar, a literal dumping ground for the forgotten.
The main part of the story takes place here as Thor finds himself unwillingly part of the Grandmaster's (Jeff Goldblum, in perfect form) gladiator spectacle, reuniting with Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and trying to convince an alcoholic Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to regain her honor and help him stop Hela. Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Hela resurrects her long-dead warrior companions (and huge, cute undead puppy Fenris) while Heimdall steals the Bifrost sword to stop them from traveling off planet while trying to save as many other Asgardians as possible.
As I said, Thor: Ragnarok is a lot of fun. I laughed a lot - from Thor using Black Widow's "Sun going down" line to try to help Hulk/Bruce Banner to Taika Waititi's scene stealing turn as the rock gladiator Korg (who gets all the best lines - but I guess when you're director, everything works out!). Plus, so many, many more. Also, as I said, that means the villains get shafted as both Hela and her janitor-turned-executioner Skurge (Urban) don't get nearly enough screen time or development. Despite the very real danger they pose, the never seem like that big of threat with Thor and Hulk fighting, the Grandmaster melting people and the Devil's Anus to worry about. Thus, when we get to the big, climactic battle, it just doesn't have the impact it really should - but good for Waititi for somehow convincing the notoriously stingy Led Zepplin to use Immigrant Song not once, but twice in the film.
I am glad, though, that Waititi put his own spin on the Marvel universe. Guardians of the Galaxy came close, but I still think Ragnarok is the first, true Marvel comedy. It certainly stands out among the other films in the MCU, for better or worse, but I still highly recommend it, despite the flaws. In the end, I guess we can call it a tie.