Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★½


Are you Thor, God of Hammers?

Forget everything you think you know about the MCU. This is a whole new beast. Taika Waititi is so over making an "epic mythological superhero movie", instead he expands and reinvents the lore surrounding Thor by making this wonderful retrowave space opera hybrid of Barbarella, Flash Gordon and Excalibur with the sole goal of being the most fun it can possibly be, and what do you know, the result ended up being epic by proxy after all.

Humor has been a part of the MCU for a while now, and in many movies it became something of a nuisance due to inappropriate or exaggerated use. Thor: Ragnarok is one of the most - if not the most - hilarious films of the MCU. That being said, it's possibly the one that uses comedy the best - this is a movie directed by Taika Waititi, the humor here is not mere "comic relief", comedy is just a big part of what this film is supposed to be. Just like the works from which it draws inspiration, Ragnarok dives head-on in its universe absurdity and how ridiculous it inherently is, and has the best time possible with it. It even feels like Taika is making fun of the MCU.

Everyone in here just looks like they're having a blast making this movie, and that translates to the screen as an authentic and energetic charisma. Hemsworth has never been more likable, neither has Ruffalo, and specially Hiddleston. It's a buddy movie, and a great one at it. Tessa Thompson steals the show as the Valkyrie, and what in the world was Jeff Goldblum? I'm not kidding, I literally cried out of laughter watching him. Taika said that the dialogue was like 80% improvised, and at first I was like "no way", but I'm telling you, it shows, and in a good way. The dialogues here are just reaching a whole new level of comic naturalism in terms of both writing and acting - there are quite a few times that you can tell Hemsworth or Thompson are holding back their laughter, and that's wonderful, because why wouldn't the characters laugh too at these situations? It feels more like the film and its characters are welcoming us into its ludicrosity - instead of only us relating to them, they are relating to how we feel as well. It's pure comedic genius.

Now, that's not to say that Thor: Ragnarok doesn't have its more serious moments. It does, and they work. The film succeeds at evoking a great deal of emotions, and that can actually be traced back to the humor once again. Because Ragnarok uses humor as a storytelling tool and not simply "relief", the fun vibe that these characters let out is a major component to their relationship, it strenghtens their friendship and therefore make the serious and emotional moments more impactant. The friendship that Banner and Thor develop here is something of pure beauty, and don't get me started on Loki.

Visually the movie is stunning. The set and costume designs are just marvelous, specially the whole design of the Sakaar planet and its culture. Again, the Barbarella influence shows itself, but there's also quite a lot of inspiration drawn from Jack Kirby's designs. The cinematography is gorgeous and works with both the hypercolored sets and visual effects to create a most fascinating psychedellic and pyrotechnical aesthetic festival of a movie. It's glorious.

And the music? I'll be fucking damned. Mark Mothersbaugh goes full retrowave on the eargasmic score, and like I said, Taika is not aiming to be epic, so don't expect typical superhero fanfares to be the main attractions here. Expect synthwave and fucking Immigrant Song. Yes, it plays on the movie. Not only that, but Marvel is starting to understand the importance of musical continuity - the soundtrack gives shoutouts to Patrick Doyle's score from the first movie, and the theme for Hulk's lullaby from Age of Ultron also comes back.

Narratively this also feels completely different from what Marvel has been making since they started this universe, and that got me off-guarded. It really is its own thing, with its own rules, high stakes and guess what? Consequences! No, I don't mean whatever consequences like "Oh no War Machine hurt his back", I mean actual consequences that redefine the future of this franchise and will impact the entirety of the MCU. It comes full circle with the arc started in the first Thor in a refreshing and bold way, and makes me truly eager to see what will happen next.

If I have to pinpoint one single issue that is keeping half a star from my rating, that would have to be... Hela, I guess. Now don't go assuming anything; Hela is a badass villain and Cate Blanchett absolutely kills it, but I feel like the film could've gone deeper in her past, her relation to Odin and Asgard. As far as her motivations go, they're pretty cliché, but it actually works if you think of the kind of movie this is setting out to be, so the only real problem is that the movie should've explored more of her personality and how she came to be the way she is.

In the end, Thor: Ragnarok fulfilled every last one of my expectations for it. It's a massively fun movie, one of the funniest films of all year if not the funniest, an excellent revisionism of genres and subgenres, visually dazzling and with a perfect retrowave score, emotional and with a character work worthy of its protagonist. Between Homecoming, GOTGV2, this and the upcoming Black Panther, Marvel is really learning how to build identity for each film, and I'm sure this new generation of movies is gonna squash the past one with its quality.

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