Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
Easily the best Thor film
I always felt like the Thor films stuck out like a sore thumb in the MCU. Sure they look great and have some pretty crucial plot points that connect to the MCU as a whole, but for the most part their narratives and bland villains are just so disappointing. Thor Ragnarok is a breath of fresh air for the Thor series, bringing to the table a more lighthearted tone and some pretty memorable side characters.
We once again follow Thor, this time returning to his home of Asgard to find that not everything is 100% normal. After a series of mishaps he ends up on a far away planet, having to fight his way home and rescue Asgard from an ancient evil. It all sounds kinda cliche and to be honest, the whole setup is. See in every Thor film, we see him fighting some overwhelming power that has been dormant for hundreds or thousands of years. However, the direction that the writers take this film in is much different in tone. Yes the villains are still a threat, but the film as a whole has a very lighthearted tone to balance out all of the destruction. The film feels like something that Taika Waititi would make, both in tone and in its overall aesthetic. The film has a lot of color to it, mostly due to the one planet Thor encounters called Sakaar. Everything there feels colorful and extravagant, much like the guy that runs Sakaar, The Grandmaster. There, Thor is forced to participate in "the games", where he ultimately finds the Hulk, who later makes for a great supporting character in the context of the story. That's one thing that I feel like this film did extremely well, creating great and memorable supporting characters. There's Valkyrie, a badass female who discovers Thor on Sakaar, The Grandmaster, a secondary antagonist type character, and Korg, the toughly built yet soft-spoken fighter. Each of these characters have their time to shine, delivering some great lines. That's another thing that this film did well, it had a ton of humor. It has the subtle humor of a Taika Waititi film, as well as some humor that was put in there to have a laugh out loud reaction. A lot of the humor worked really well, and I was laughing pretty consistently. The film was just funny and very well written, and felt like a breath of fresh air. The only problems I had with the film were with the story. Hela, the main villain, gives a looooot of expositional dialogue. Some scenes with her just feel tacked on to deliver exposition, and the exposition at times feels very repetitive and kinda boring. In addition, she’s also not the most developed villain, with her characterization consisting of several villain cliches. Marvel doesn’t have a great track record with villains, so this wasn’t much of a surprise. However, that’s really all of my problems with the film. It’s really well made, and is probably the best marvel film since Ant-Man.
Chris Hemsworth gives a great performance as always, with his character given a lot of humor this time around. It felt like Hemsworth wasn’t confined into a box, having to act brooding and serious all the time. He was really able to flex his comedic muscles, which was a welcome surprise. I also really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, who like Hemsworth was able to express himself more with his comedic abilities. Tessa Thompson gave a great performance as Valkyrie, and I felt that her and her character are a welcome addition to the MCU. She did great with the physicality of her role as well as the comedic nature of her character. I can’t wait to see her in future MCU films. As always, Jeff Goldblum stole every scene he was in. The guy is just so charismatic, I just loved him in this film.
When marvel chose Taika Waititi to direct this film, I was unsure how he was going to do with a bigger budget and a more epic scope. Luckily, I thought that he pulled off his first big budget film, bringing his signature style to the MCU. Everything from the aesthetic to the overall lighthearted tone of the film just screamed Waititi. It was something that I wanted from the MCU, and I’m glad that it finally happened. Even Guardians of the Galaxy 2 took itself a little too seriously than it should’ve. This film has its serious moments, but for the most part it was much more lighthearted. The cinematography too was very vibrant, capturing the 80’s-ish feel of this film. It’s very futuristic while feeling very retro, and that’s a huge part of why I loved this film.
The score by Mark Mothersbaugh is one of the best MCU scores in recent memory. It uses its fair share of orchestral sounds, but also implements synthesizers to give it a retro feel. It was something fresh and unique, and actually had some memorable tunes and themes. I hope In the future marvel attempts to give their composers more creative freedom and doesn’t undermine the value of music in film. This is truly one of the best scores marvel has put out, and I highly encourage you to give it a listen.
Overall, Thor Ragnarok is one of the best marvel films in recent memory. It felt unique and different in its retro feel, while also telling the best story out of all of the Thor films. Waititi’s Style isn’t masked by the marvel formula, giving the film a clear sense of identity and not making it feel like a manufactured film with no heart. I highly encourage you to check this out in theaters, since it really is a cinematic experience.