Friday, November 03, 2017

"Thor: Ragnarok" Brings Action and Laughs Galore {review}

"Thor: Ragnarok" is Marvel's third movie focused on the God of Thunder, and it opens in theatres today, November 3. This one diverges a bit in tone from the previous two installments. There's lots of witty banter and comedy galore, which only complements the action scenes and amazing CGI vistas. There are new characters, joined by many returning favourites. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) even makes a brief appearance.

In this story, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk.

Cate Blanchett plays this new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe - Hela, Goddess of Death. Hela is one of Thor’s most formidable enemies from the comics, first introduced in 1964, and is the first leading female villain in any of the Marvel Studios’ feature films to date. Blanchett is nearly unrecognisable in this role and does a fantastic job bringing this nasty character to the screen. Plus, check out her costume! That headpiece is incredible. I may have found next year's Hallowe'en costume.

Another new character, Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, starts out as an adversary, but eventually joins Thor's fighting team. This character was introduced in the comics in 1971. She has history with Hela, and provides a great foil to Loki in this film. I'm happy to see another strong female character come to Marvel.

Michael and I were both very caught up in the movie and thoroughly enjoyed both the action and the humour. This is definitely the most comedic Thor movie to date, and in that it is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a similar tone. There's plenty of laughs, and lots of great fight choreography and CGI. I also appreciated the attention to Hulk's character in this film. Hulk came through as a character in his own right, for what felt like the first time in the Marvel films, and we got some insights into what makes him tick.

Although I really did enjoy this movie, and I give it the proverbial "two thumbs up," I felt there were really two stories being told, and the actual Ragnarok narrative suffered because of this. A lot of time is spent on Sakaar, the gritty world ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), where Thor is reunited with Hulk in the gladiatorial ring. It is enjoyable time, to be sure, but it takes time away from what I expected to be the main storyline - the conquest of Asgard by Hela, and the fight against the end of the universe, Ragnarok. That storyline seemed rushed and less fleshed out in comparison.

I'd also like to have seen more development or at least more analysis of the relationship between Thor and Hela, Hela and Odin, etc. Hela's position as Goddess of Death and first-born of Odin is stated, but I feel the familial drama could have been played out more clearly and would have provided additional interest.

I wonder if a "Director's Cut" will ever be released that may address some of my quibbles?

Bottom line, if you are a fan of Marvel, or Thor, or superheros, go see this film. It may not be perfect, but it comes close, and it's tons of fun.

Disclosure: I received complimentary media access to see this film, along with a guest, to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family. 

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