By Jordan Peterson | @thefilmmajor
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Benedict Cumberbatch
Release date: November 3, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material)
Running time: 2 hr. 10 min.
Right out the gate (or cage, as the case may be), Thor: Ragnarok sets itself apart from its predecessors. For better and worse, it’s less “Shakespeare in the park” and more Flash Gordon (which ‘Ragnarok’ director Taika Waititi has cited as his film’s biggest influence). This threequel rapturously embraces the inherent silliness that comes with the territory of an Old English-speaking, macho prince who flies around with a giant mallet and travels to other worlds via a rainbow bridge.
This time out, the Norse God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) is kicked off said bridge (referred to more seriously as the “Bifrost”) during a skirmish with Cate Blanchett’s Hela shortly after she destroys his trusty hammer, Mjölnir. Our hero crash lands on Sakaar where he is immediately abducted and sold to an eccentric ringleader who calls himself the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and forces Thor to compete in a sadistic, gladiator-style Contest of Champions against a “friend from work” in the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
It’s a fun, elaborate setup that largely serves as an excuse to pair Thor with Hulk for an intergalactic road trip comedy courtesy of Taika Waititi (What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and if looked at through that prism, Thor: Ragnarok is a roaring success. Hemsworth and Ruffalo have great chemistry on screen and their characters hilariously rip on each other like a couple of bratty teenagers. My eyes were watery for most of the film simply because I was laughing so hard.
At the same time, I was disappointed by how frequently those same jokes seemed to undermine the characters and previous installments. The brooding Bruce Banner from Avengers: Age of Ultron should be even more dismayed given certain revelations in ‘Ragnarok.’ Instead, his situation is made light of and any concerns that you or he may have are brushed aside either for the next laugh or GC-eye candy set piece. Throughout, I couldn’t help but wonder why a studio like Marvel would go through the trouble of establishing and then selling audiences on a shared, cinematic experience only to dishonor that continuity with films like Thor: Ragnarok.
Despite the gimmicky appeal of a cinematic universe, action is still the bread and butter of any superhero movie. In that sense, Thor: Ragnarok is absolutely loaded with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. A select few fights are an absolute spectacle to behold, but the action overall lacks a serious sense of stakes. Thor can only annihilate so many waves of nameless henchmen on his own before I stop buying that anyone is in any real peril.
Still, by the time the lights came up, I couldn’t deny how much fun (buzz word) I had with this film. Outside the jokes, each frame is brimming with color and imagination and the cast is wonderful. In particular, Jeff Goldblum is infectiously quirky and Tessa Thompson steals almost every scene she’s in as the badass Valkyrie.
Whatever thoughts you may have in your head walking out of Thor: Ragnarok, I guarantee there’ll be a smile on your face.
Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Out of four)
Have you had a chance to check out Thor: Ragnarok yet? If so, what did you think? Did you have a good time? Let me know in the comments below!