Whilst it may not be one of the MCU's best, Thor Ragnarok certainly might be the funniest.
Thor Ragnarok has long been one of the most anticipated films of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The basic premise alone stirs up excitement in its own right: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was to team up with brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who we had not seen since the Avengers battles with Ultron. This third instalment in the Thor trilogy offers a new perspective to the MCU, though it maybe not be an epic, it still arises as a good film.
Goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett) returns from exile to take control of Asgard, carrying some heavy secrets from the past with her. As Thor and Loki try to defeat her, they are banished to a quaint city ruled by the Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum). While Loki makes his way up the ranks to become a favourite, Thor falls into slavery and finds himself reunited with The Hulk, here, he must fight for his freedom and save Asgard.
From the first minute, it can be understood this will not be a movie based on the same MCU mould. And at the last minute, including the post credits scene, we still have to decide whether this was an action film diving into silly humour, or a comedy with some fight scenes in it. Anyone will fail at sorting Thor Ragnarok into previous MCU categories. Though this could have been surmised from previous scenes from the titular hero Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the first ten minutes will make you laugh hard, including Thor’s first talk to demon Surtur and Loki’s first appearance, still disguised as Odin. The psychedelic vibes that appear in parts of the film still leaves a curious taste.
If you were a fan of previous Thor movies and had long-awaited the third instalment to know answers to questions such as where Odin was, was Loki really ruling Asgard and what happened to Bruce Banner during his disappearance, you could be disappointed at the plot construction aside from that. However, there are answers in a famed MCU format to satisfy those questions…
Recently, Marvel has tended to throw in surprises from the past that may affect the original stories established in the original movies and Thor Ragnarok is no exception to that. While some may be bothered by this, just as I was, it makes for a decent story to watch. The plot is consistent from beginning to end and thanks to great direction from Taika Waititi and editing, the movie feels tight without a wasted moment.
Hela’s character appears as a pretty good villain with revenge and the thirst for conquest motivating her, which is admittedly quite basic, but it contrasts well to Hemsworth and Hiddleston’s non-stop humorous scenes. Indeed, Thor has never been that funny and features only a few hints of gravitas and sensibility. Mark Ruffalo’s scenes, as both Banner and The Hulk are maybe more cynical due to the subtext of The Hulk being a manifestation of Banner’s anxiety, frustration, and anger coming. Hiddleston could still be crowned the funniest, playing into another register than the previous movies as Loki takes himself less seriously.
Waititi’s touch completely transforms the film. Indeed, the plot is simplistic and the end quite devastating, but with the heavy humour dropped non-stop throughout the movie, it delivers a unique experience and leaves us to wonder how we could react that way when we watch this story. Indeed, slavery, mass-destruction and physical mutilation just pass like another goofy line from Hemsworth. Even the score delivers another way of watching this movie, as instead of a tense musical composition during fight scenes, Thor tries to defeat a demon set to ‘Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin.
Even though Thor Ragnarok fails at being a great movie by its lack of sobriety and gravity, resulting in a burlesque composition of fight scenes with a giant wolf, living skeletons, a sorceress and a weird dictator, it’s certainly not one of the best MCU movies, but it remains a good movie if you want to have a good laugh.
Thor Ragnarok (2017), directed by Taika Waititi, is distributed in the UK by Disney, certificate 12a.