Hot Take: An entertaining superhero popcorn flick that slips into silliness too often to be great but provides plenty of entertainment to be good.
The beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe seemingly can do no wrong in the eyes of many. Before ripping Thor: Ragnarok, I have to be transparent. I was highly entertained by the latest MCU superhero movie. That being said, why did it have to yuck it up so much? It’s really hard to take Thor: Ragnarok seriously. At times, it feels like a send up of the genre. It’s a growing trend with these MCU films. Each film doesn’t care to raise the bar when it comes to action but there’s an obsession with one-upmanship when it comes to the jokes. This latest one, the third Thor film from the MCU, offers a heavy dose of humor and delivers more comedy than action and tries to make Chris Hemsworth and friends more of a comedy troupe than a superhero group. So, why is this so bad? Well, it’s not but it is hard to take the movie seriously. You might be asking, “Why would you want to take a superhero film seriously?” First, Logan. Second, Thor: Ragnarok occasionally borderlines on parody as Hemsworth hams it up (especially with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk as the pair almost resemble Abbott & Costello at times), Jeff Goldblum goes full Goldblum and Cate Blanchett does one of the best Zod impressions I’ve seen. Even with the criticism, it’s hard to resist the charisma of Thor: Ragnarok and if you’re not entertained by it, I’m really not sure why you were sitting in the theater in the first place.
Hemsworth reprises his role as Thor and is rejoined by Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall. Joining them is Tessa Thompson as Scrapper 142 later revealed as Valkyrie and from the MCU is Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Benedict Cumberbatch in a brief appearance as Doctor Strange. The minor baddie is Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster who takes on the early subplot as Thor attempts to escape the planet Sakaar as he tries to get back to Asgard to try and stop Hela (Blanchett), the main baddie, from destroying Asgard. Hela is also Thor’s sister and Odin’s first born and the goddess of death, if you care.
The plot is almost unimportant and minimized by the comedic elements of the plot. Thor: Ragnarok is actually one of the funniest films of the year as Hemsworth’s dry wit plays well off of the rest of the characters and provides a great popcorn popping 2 hours of entertainment. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. No one can make popcorn last the full 2+ hours of a MCU movie. Somehow I still haven’t seen What We Do In The Shadows but if Thor: Ragnarok does one thing, it sells me on the fact that I should have seen director Taika Waititi’s most revered work. Waititi’s flair for comedy is evident in the third installment featuring the Norse God but if you go in expecting something heavier, you might walk away with a bad taste in your mouth from the latest MCU effort.
Staunch MCU haters will likely pile on Thor: Ragnarok. That goes double for the oft serious DC Extended Universe fans who love to pick apart anything MCU. (To be fair, MCU fan boys love to do the same to the DC Extended Universe films.) Even with its flawed imbalance of comedy vs. action (Sorry but even Guardians of the Galaxy was more balanced), Thor: Ragnarok is packed with entertaining performances and set pieces. The action is solid. The interconnectivity to the rest of the MCU is not overdone and the new characters are all well done. With Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War on deck maybe the MCU needed to lighten up a bit although one would argue Spiderman: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 had plenty of comedic moments. With Thor: Ragnarok, if you calibrate your expectations, the experience will be worthwhile. Personally, it took a little time to adjust because, even though the trailer led you to believe the film was laced with comedy, it’s still unexpected the amount of time the film spends trying to make you laugh. That being said, it did accomplish its mission and Thor: Ragnarok is 2+ hours of pure entertainment.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Hemsworth has charisma for days and he proves he doesn’t even need long, flowing blonde locks to pull it off. Hemsworth’s comedic timing is excellent here and he plays off all of the other characters well.
- Strange Things
Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in his very brief stint on screen continues to be one of my favorite MCU characters. This second wave of superheroes that have been introduced (Or is it third wave) is impressive and a second Strange movie would be a welcome addition.
- You Should Always Go Full Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum steals every scene he’s in. That’s not shocking, is it?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Kneel Before… Zod?
I’m sorry but the introduction of Cate Blanchett as Hela felt an awful lot like Zod’s first appearance in Superman II. I’m not sure why but that’s how it struck me.