Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok ★★★★

Thor: Ragnarok is brilliant.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that a movie from director Taika Waititi with a cast this good would be really great but it even managed to surpass those expectations for me. This is one of those comic book movies that uses the genre to its advantage in a way that makes it stand out amongst all the other entries in the MCU and in the wider genre of super hero movies.

As the third film in a trilogy that is mostly not well regarded, this film simultaneously has a lot and very little to live up to as well as two shining examples of what not to do to learn from. Thor Ragnarok clearly followed those examples very well because it is so far from what the previous two entries did with the property and it is all the better for it. Thor: Ragnarok is aware that Thor as a story is entirely ridiculous but instead of using that to devolve the film into parody, a lot of the film's comedy comes from playing that idea totally straight.

However, despite being possibly the funniest movie of the year, the film's comedy didn't affect its drama or stakes in the way many people were worried it would. The film is totally willing to slow down and take itself seriously when it needs to (mostly) and I really appreciate the tonal balance.

Storywise, this film does a great job of building on relationships and dynamics established in the previous entries, the Thor/Loki dynamic is a standout for me. I also really enjoyed what was done with Odin because I've felt that he's been somewhat underutilised in previous entries. The plot is very entertaining throughout and despite my thoughts that the film's marketing may have revealed too much, I found myself surprised by a lot of things. Go into this as free of spoilers as possible for the sake of your own enjoyment.

Ragnarok looks great as well, from the fantastic Jack Kirby inspired costumes and sets to the film's well choreographed action scenes and mostly great CGI, this is definitely a contended for best looking MCU movie to date, continuing the trend of MCU movies getting better and better looking.

The final thing I'd like to gush about is the performances in this film, the standouts for me were Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett's Hela, both were really interesting and the former was totally not what I was expecting in the best way. Tom Hiddleston was great as always as Loki and I could clearly sense a development in how he played the character. I was also very pleasantly surprised by Chris Hemsworth as Thor as in previous films I haven't been the biggest fan of his acting, he takes a totally different approach to the role in this and for me it totally works as well as feeling like a believable way for his character to have developed. The smaller roles in the film were all also very well done save for a dodgy American accent at one point, Karl Urban's Skurge had a bizarre charm to him. Goldblum was obviously fantastic

However, I have to discuss what I didn't like about the movie because this is a "review" and not a barely coherent ramble about why I liked a movie about a guy with a hammer.

This film is busy, there are a whole lot of characters and stories that it cuts between and that means that the film's tonal shifts at points feel too abrupt as well as resulting in some characters getting less development than I would have liked. I think the film could have done with 10-15 more minutes to flesh out some side characters as well as give the two distinct parts of the film that it moves between more time to breathe. Additionally, there is one scene where I would have preferred not to have a joke (though the joke they used at least kind of fits). I would have also liked to get some more depth for Hela though what we saw already elevated her character out of the worst MCU villains. I think there were also a couple of missed opportunities for more clearly emotional scenes however the film wasn't as devoid of emotions as people were worried.

This movie is very very good, I don't really need to say that it's the best Thor movie because I don't think anyone was expecting otherwise however for me it ranks amongst the top tier of the MCU overall too. I was continually surprised and entertained and it's clearly imbued with director Taika Waititi's style in the best way.

Thor: Ragnarok is brilliant.

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