The Comedic Joyride of “Thor Ragnarok”
By Albert Thai Le
With the upcoming surge of superhero movies being released this month, “Thor Ragnarok” (2017) begins November as a solid third addition to the Thor trilogy.
The film begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returning back to Asgard after slaying the fire demon Surtur to prevent Ragnarok, the prophesied destruction of Asgard. He soon learns that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken over Asgard and left their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) down on Earth, thus prompting the two to search for him. So, after a strange meeting with another superhero from the Marvel Universe, the two find their dying father on a secluded isle.
They soon learn that their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), imprisoned by Odin because of her high and destructive ambitions, will return to rule Agard upon her father’s death. Thor and Loki try to stop Hela, but she proves to be more powerful than the two combined, thus sending them far away. They arrive separated on an alien trash planet called Sakaar. There, they meet Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a former soldier of Valkyrior now turned into a slave holder, and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), now trapped as a gladiator fighting for the amusement of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), ruler of Sakaar. Together, Thor and his allies must find a way to escape Sakaar and return to Asgard to prevent its destruction by Hela.
Despite the seemingly riveting plot, I wasn’t entirely fond of how the movie presented its story. For one, the story didn’t feel too new, in the sense that I could summarize the movie as a discount “Avengers” movie: Thor edition. Simply put, the film sets us up with a cast of characters who need to team together and stop a greater evil from destroying the world. While it does not copy the actual plot of the Avengers, I did feel like there were minimal risks when the story was being crafted.
Another gripe is the presentation of exposition. I understand that there are new characters for the audience to learn about, and I’m aware that there are audience members who are fond of the lore within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, for new heroes and villains like Hela, some characters offer the same lore with minimal build-up, making their presentations feel rushed and clunky. While the addition of lore feels essential as we’re introduced to these new characters and worlds, it can get exhausting for some listening to the same plot elements repeatedly throughout the film.
Despite these minor issues, there are other features which definitely shine for this film. The merging of two stylistic worlds, fantasy and hardcore science fiction, offers the filmmakers to be creative with their world building. The CGI used to construct the landscape and people within each world is beautiful and immersive as the audience dives with the camera into these enchanting locations, new and familiar.
But what really shines in this movie has to be the comedy. There’s an enjoyable mixture of slapstick, wordplay, and improvisational comedy that plays out consistently to balance the more intense and dramatic moments within the film. This amount of comedy would make sense, as writer and director Taika Waititi mentioned in an interview with Collider that he gave the actors free creative reign for improvising the script on set. In effect, this was an effective move by giving the film a light and playful experience, a feeling that we’re slowly seeing more in recent Marvel films.
This film takes us away from the darkness and moodiness of the earlier Thor films and takes us into a delightful joyride across the Marvel Universe. To those who want to appreciate the comedy of actors like Chris Hemsworth or simply enjoy a fun Marvel film, definitely see “Thor Ragnarok” before “Justice League” hits theatres by November 17.