Thor: Ragnarok (6.5 out of 10)
“Thor, I sense a great change in your future. Destiny has dire plans for you, my friend.”
“I have dire plans for destiny.”
It’s safe to say that Marvel Studios has gotten off to an enormous head-start on DC Entertainment, it’s chief rival. While DC has been trying desperately to catch up to Marvel over the last few years, with very mixed results, Marvel keeps chugging along and putting out hit after hit. Back when Marvel’s “Iron Man” debuted in 2008 and became a smash success, it ended up launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Since then, Marvel has released numerous films introducing and developing some of the most loved characters in Marvel’s comic book history, such as Captain America, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and the ensemble Avengers films. During that time period, Marvel Studios has developed a specific formula that permeates most if not all of its films: lots of action, strong character development and narratives, and last but certainly not least, tons of humor. While DC films have mostly stayed dark, bleak, and serious, Marvel has marketed and delivered movies that have stayed on the lighter side with many laughs and jabs not only at its characters, but at popular culture as well. The formula has worked effectively, as Marvel Studios has earned billions upon billions of dollars from this ever-expanding universe it has created. That formula has been pushed to the zenith with its latest release, “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Ragnarok is the third outing for Thor, following 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. While those two films had plenty of laughs, for sure, Ragnarok ups the humor aspect considerably, so much so that it’s safe to call Ragnarok a full-blown comedy with some action. Humor and laughs permeate the film, from beginning to end. I found myself laughing quite a bit at what was delivered (although at times the humor was a bit cringe-inducing), and while most of the comedy worked and I was certainly entertained by this latest Marvel film, I also left the theater a bit letdown. While the wall-to-wall humor was great for the most part, I also felt it masked some of the overt deficiencies in the film. First of all, the film was not edited and paced well at times, as some scenes seemed to plod along clumsily and were unnecessarily extended. Secondly, Ragnarok has some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in an MCU film. While it’s possibly intentional to correspond with the zany and comical quality of the film, I found the poor CGI to be quite distracting, especially when nearly every scene is basically live actors in front of a green screen. Also, the story itself is fairly thin, and it felt like scenes were intentionally dragged out to mask the weakness of the narrative. There was almost no tension throughout the film, as there was never a time I felt concerned about the protagonists.
That’s not to say that the actors in the film did poorly. Despite the deficiencies in the narrative aspect of the script, the acting is solid throughout. Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor in a role he was pretty much destined to play. This time, Hemsworth gives his most comedic take on the character, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments throughout. Tom Hiddleston is great as Loki, as are Anthony Hopkins, Tessa Thompson, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Cate Blanchett, an actress I’ve always admired, does a fine job as the antagonist Hela, the evil sister of Thor and Loki, hell-bent on taking over Asgard, and also getting to flex her comedic muscles as well. The real scene-stealer, however, is Jeff Goldblum as the flamboyant Grandmaster. Essentially playing himself, Goldblum hams it up and is perfect for the part.
So, there is plenty to enjoy in the latest Thor outing. The humor keeps things light and entertaining, and the actors seem to be having fun with the material, which makes things more enjoyable for the audience. It’s hard to not enjoy a film when you see how much fun the actors are having on screen. But the uneven pacing, weak story, and poor CGI keep Thor: Ragnarok from being one of the elite films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite that, however, the film should continue the string of massive box office successes for Marvel and leave DC further behind in Marvel’s rear-view mirror. I give Thor: Ragnarok a 6.5 out of 10.
- Ryan Zeid