Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★

"I have to get off this planet!"

Thor: Ragnarok finally delivers a good Thor movie, by tearing down all the institutions of what a Thor movie "should" be. Out with the fantasy drama, in with the sci-fi comedy. Waititi proves to be an inspired choice to direct, constantly bringing his more stylish chops to the table, his unique cinematic voice chiming loudly across this cinematic universe. His fast-pace with moments of pathos proves a great fit for the 70s space adventure vibe that oozes throughout the film.

The entire cast is great, but gratefully, Thor is finally the best part of a Thor movie. Hemsworth carries the whole movie thanks to his strong comedic talent, often shown off in Avengers films, but never in his solo films. However, this is a solo movie in the vein of Winter Soldier, becoming a team-up movie quickly through its runtime, Hiddleston returns to greatness as Loki, delivering a truly delectable performance for the first time in five years. Thompson is fun but underused, and Ruffalo is always a welcome presence, especially when we get Hulk as an actual character for once. Oh, and Jeff Goldblum plays Jeff Goldblum!!

The color palette is gorgeous, although the usual Marvel color-grading really does a disservice to how vibrant it can be. There are two cameos in the film that are memorable in the best sense, that make one hope those two actors reunite with Waititi on another, non-franchise film. Mothersbaugh's score lives up to the hype, brilliantly utilizing the soundscape of the movie to complete the genre shift that occurs with this film, while also being incredibly funky.

However, even Waititi can't escape the MCU's biggest problem. Blanchett is totally wasted as Hela, another forgettable Marvel villain. Elba and Urban are usually welcome presences, but they both pad the runtime completely unnecessarily as very dull subplots. Worse though, the entire first act of the film is dedicated to completing dangling plotlines from the previous two Thor movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is fine for continuity's sake, but severely hurts what's being done within this own work.

Worse, Infinity War looms heavily over the climax of this film, which lessens the impact of the core four's character arcs being completed, and leaves one worried for what the forthcoming serious storm will do to the pure exuberance of these characters. Yes, Waititi deconstructs a lot of the MCU's rules and tropes (the heavily marketed Thor/Hulk fight works much better as a deconstruction of their previous interactions than an actual scene), but when there's the typical flaws also permeating the film, it's hard to really say it was all worth it.

However, Thor: Ragnarok's flaws and strengths are inherently tied to each other. It's not a perfect film, but it's a very fun blockbuster that knows exactly what it needs to be, although it doesn't go past that. Waititi proves he can make an enjoyable time no matter the budget, and Hemsworth leads a fantastic ensemble who are game for a wacky time. It may be time to get off the MCU's generic planet and migrate to Waititi's gloriously messy one, but for now, it's nice to see one of the core Marvel heroes finally get a memorable film. These movies can only be as good as they're allowed to be. We may wish we could get more than that, but sadly, Ragnarok may be coming to the interest I personally have in this universe. At least we have Ryan Coogler coming up, right?

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