“I am Thor, god of thunder, and I say now, not one blade of my locks shall be severed!”
Marvel Studio may be a massive money-making corporation, but the ever-expanding world known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been an undeniable success. They have continued to maintain a high level of quality in their movies and recently have shown they’re willing to take a risk and put faith in some younger directors often with a comedic and/or indie background such as the Russo Brothers, James Gunn, Jon Watts and now with my favourite Kiwi Taika Waititi with the newest instalment in the Thor series, Thor: Ragnarok and with it, we now have Iron Man, Captain America and Thor all having complete trilogies. We’ve come a long way since 2008.
Having previously made three excellent movies (Boy, What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) I was delighted to hear that Waititi was chosen to helm the new Thor movie. Beginning well with the underrated, Shakespearean Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh and then continuing with the serviceable yet ultimately forgettable Thor: The Dark World, the series was needing an injection of creativity and energy and with Waititi they couldn’t have chosen better.
Having previously made three excellent movies (Boy, What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) I was delighted to hear that Waititi was chosen to helm the new Thor movie. Beginning well with the underrated, Shakespearean Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh and then continuing with the serviceable yet ultimately forgettable Thor: The Dark World, the series was needing an injection of creativity and energy and with Waititi they couldn’t have chosen better. Utilising his hilariously quirky comedic style, a gorgeously vibrant colour palette with trippy John Ditko visuals and a funky nostalgic 80’s soundtrack (the John Carpenter influence obvious) makes Ragnarok easily the best of the series and possibly the funniest of the entire MCU, giving Guardians of the Galaxy a run for its money. Waititi has made some bold decisions moving the series ahead. Jane Foster? Gone. Thor’s Hammer? Destroyed. The total destruction of Asgard? Approaching. Despite clearly aiming to be more of a comedy than other Marvel movies, Ragnarok will lead to massive repercussions for the rest of the MCU.
Like all of us Waititi knows that Chris Hemsworth has great comedic timing, as seen in glimpses in the Vacation and Ghostbusters remakes but here is it is harnessed fully. Thor so far has been seen as fairly petulant and serious Asgardian unfamiliar to the customs of Earth, but clearly spending enough time with Tony Stark will alter your sense of humour. Thor is still cocky but is much more laid back and witty and some might find the slight evolution in personality slightly forced but for me, in the context of Thor’s journey throughout the MCU made sense and I found myself laughing consistently throughout. We pick up were we left off in The Dark World with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), disguised as Odin (Anthony Hopkins), on the throne in Asgard while Thor goes off on his Avenger’s adventures. However soon the brothers are reunited and find themselves trapped on the planet Skaar, all thanks to the devilish Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, her power seemingly unmatched.
Here they discover the man in charge, The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum at maximum Jeff Goldblum) who forces Thor to compete in his Contest of Champions where he must do battle against fellow hot head Avenger Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who is in permanent green mode. It’s great to see fresh takes on Loki and Hulk who were at risk of becoming stale but here they are allowed to go in newer directions. For all the terrible things Loki has done, he still has a brotherly back-and-forth with Thor, who is now wise to his tricks, and seeing Loki find out he’s trapped on a gladiatorial trash planet with the Hulk is priceless; “I have to get off this planet!” he fearfully exclaims. Mark Ruffalo continues being one of Marvel’s smartest acquisitions as he brings the humanity, plus seven PhD’s to counteract Hulk’s endless rage. The whole cast is clearly having a blast on set here and this is true with the new additions to the series such as the Grandmaster and the increasingly impressive Tessa Thompson as the Valkyrie, a fallen Asgardian warrior turned scavenger who almost steals every scene she’s in, having some of the best lines. As for criticism, Blanchett as Hela does provide us with a more memorable villain than most other Marvel movies, her talent is undeniable, but I still would’ve liked to see more of her and explore her motivations in more depth. It’s still fantastic to see Marvel recruiting such high-quality actors.
Ragnarok achieves many things, including cementing Taika Waititi as one of the brightest and funniest new directors on the scene, and really taking the Thor series in a bold new direction all while giving us a brilliant cosmic action/adventure in the process. Marvel fans new and old will love this movie and I’m really loki-ing (sorry) forward to see where Waititi’s talents lead him next. Keep an eye out on this guy because the sky is the limit.
So until next time…
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