THOR: RAGNAROK (2017, PG-13, 130 minutes, MARVEL STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES)
Regular readers will recall the fun I had lambasting THOR: THE DORK WORLD four years ago. In fact, I make it a point to include a new insult of that particular film in every Marvel review I do—partly because it’s fun, but mostly because I still want my $13 back.
Well, THOR: RAGNAROK can keep my money. (Okay, look, I work part time at a movie theatre, so I saw it for free, but you get the point.) Director Taika Waititi (totally giggle every time I say his last name out loud) (and by the way, he is the dude that directed the masterfully hilarious WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) has crafted a hybrid of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and IRON MAN that works… no, you did not read that wrong.
See, here’s the thing: yes, the film is funny, and the action scenes are pretty thrilling. But the highlights of this film don’t have a whole lot to do with the titular (yes, I’m using that word on purpose, you can thank the director) character. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t a THOR-thing, either. You get a whole lotta Hulk, you get the scene chewing Cate Blanchett as Thor’s evil sister, you get Doctor Strange, and you get Jeff ‘Freaking’ Goldblum. It is with these characters that you get your biggest laughs (not so much with Cate, but she does garner a few chuckles), and the longer lasting impressions. Plus, there is a character made out of rocks, one with tattoos on her face who could be a future romantic interest for Thor, imprisonment… any of that reminding you of GUARDIANS yet? And the Iron Man thing—I’m sorry, but Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) owns the market on snark when it comes to the Marvel Universe. Most notably in his dealings with the boy in IRON MAN III; the quick and easy banter, the sarcasm—RAGNAROK is literally dripping with these elements.
For the most part, they work, but there are several instances in which the jokes fall a bit flat. And relying on one Led Zeppelin song (twice, no less) to add buoyancy to the moment and not include any other relative music? Seriously? Instead, Waititi relies on a score that sounds ripped right out of a bad eighties film. On second thought, thanks for playing “Immigrant Song” twice—it was a nice break from that terrible score.
The plot summary goes something like this: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds out he has an evil sister, who kicks him and Loki (Tom Hiddleston, who also hijacks several scenes) out of Asgard so she can take over the joint. They both wind up on a planet whose ruler (Goldblum) encourages people to beat the tar out of each other in a coliseum. As usual, no spoilers, but if you’ve seen the trailers, you know the plot already.
While I did enjoy the third standalone Thor film, it did not resonate with me as much as it does with so many others. Don’t get me wrong—it is a good film. It just sometimes feels as though Whytitty and Company are trying too hard to help the GUARDIANS blend in with the regular Marvel Cinematic Universe without actually incorporating any of them into the script.
Then again, if this is a two hour and twenty-minute apology letter for THOR: THE CRAP WORLD, apology accepted.