Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★½

The best MCU movie of the year, don't @ me. Are the jokes somewhat forced? Yes. Is it short? Hell yes. However, this film was everything I wanted and more. I, for one, have had virtually no hype for MCU films this year. They have been good, but on the whole I'm MCU-ed out. That being said, this one has had my attention the entire year. Once I found out Waititi was directing, I was sold, and having watched it last night, it didn't disappoint. From the first few moments, you can tell this is a wildly different ride than previous two Thor films. The best decision Marvel made regarding this movie is having Thor finally embrace how insane of a concept he is. He is self-referential, and almost borderlines on parody, but it works for this. Thor has always been super arrogant, it's just now it has been refocused into sarcastic humor. The best part of it is, Thor is finally unhinged. His god powers are unleashed to their fullest potential, and it's what I've been waiting for from this character. And the other characters aren't without this, too. Loki and Hulk's dynamic, leading to callbacks to 2012's THE AVENGERS, is quite hilarious, especially in the big fight between Thor and Hulk. Admittedly, Hulk's presence isn't exactly necessary, but it's closest we'll ever get to a Planet Hulk film in our lifetime. Still though, Mark Ruffalo is a joy to watch, and seeing his Banner have more control over the Hulk persona is cool to see. And, I have to admit seeing the big fight between Thor and Hulk was awesome. Thor and Loki's familial relationship finally gets mutual closure, which is something I've been waiting for since THE DARK WORLD. Loki's character development is truly something to behold in this. Yes, he's still conniving as always, but there's an added trait, his legitimate care for Thor. It helps him realize he's a better person that he thinks he is, and makes him a hero in the greater picture. Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is an unexpected favorite of mine, and I hope to see a lot more of her in the future. She's badass, and the fact that she could possibly be an LGBT rep for the MCU is awesome. Jeff Goldblum is just as hilarious and fabulous as you'd expect and is a welcome addition to this strange universe. Undoubtedly, though, the true scene stealer and star is Cate Blanchett's Hela. She is so amazing, so fierce, and everything I wanted from her. Hela is terrifying, but like Thor, she carries a sense of sarcasm. She's the first villain (other than Loki?) that I wanted to root for - she was that good. Where the other MCU films of this year have felt disconnected from the main story, this film finally feels like story progression, building on things from AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON that were set up. It's not necessarily the "gritty" imagining of Ragnarok that we were promised, but in a way, this is better. Instead of making Ragnarok dark and depressing, it's an insane rollercoaster that builds with energy in every second. The cinematography alone makes the film one of the more colorful in the MCU, and only heightens the energy. Not to mention, one of the best usages of the Immigrant Song in a film. Now, that isn't to say some things don't work. Since I wasn't a fan of AGE OF ULTRON’s Bruce/Nat relationship, you can imagine that I wasn't a huge fan of callbacks to said relationship. I felt that the film was rather short, in that things escalated to the third act rather quickly. I would have preferred some time with Heimdall and the people of Asgard to break this up somewhat. The stuff regarding Doctor Strange is rather pointless other that to have a cool cameo, but I digress. There's some pretty bad CGI in some spots, namely the Norway scenes and the obvious green screen on Hela. While I loved Valkyrie, I have to admit, on the whole, she was severely underutilized and one note. I was also disappointed with how underused Idris Elba’s Heimdall was. The MCU just likes underutilizing some of their best actors, I guess. Take Karl Urban’s Skurge, for example - he did a fantastic job, but his character was really flat at times. With the comedic tone, the tone does feel unbalanced. At some points, it's trying to be serious but it's countered by those quips and jokes. This has always been a problem with Thor's movies, but with a more immediate switch to comedic, the aftershocks are felt rather dramatically. While I was a fan of the tone, I can see how others can find it odd. Other than those things, though I felt this was a step in the right direction, and probably the last bit of fun before Infinity War. I loved this so much.

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