Review: Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest film to have been produced by box office hit machine Marvel Studios. Appropriate in multiple regards – the title Ragnarok implies the utilization of the story in which the title’s character’s home is destroyed as well as the end of the Thor movie trilogy. Due to lackluster predecessors and a secretive plot, a lot has been riding on this film and its ability to please fans. Does it stack up to the hype? Let’s take a look.

Director Taika Waititi has created a beautiful, entertaining, and well-told story enjoyable for audiences of all varieties. Throughout production and emphasized during press tours, it was highlighted that Ragnarok would take a new approach—not only to the character, but the way the film was brought to the screen. There is a profound feel of fun, not only discoverable in the typical humor Marvel scripts employ, but also on a deeper level. It is blatantly obvious the cast and crew thoroughly enjoyed their work on this film. As a fan, this is noticeable and really adds to the enjoyment of the experience.

The perfectly selected cast does an outstanding job. This outing marks the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s an impressive number, but more importantly, it solidifies the fact that the studio has exceptional casting. New performances by Kate Blanchett (Hela), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Karl Urban (Skurge The Executioner), and Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), each stand out in their own regard. Hela is a villain with clear, reasonable (as reasonable as a villain can be) motives. She is played impeccably, with entertaining scenes displaying her power. The Grandmaster is highly entertaining, and also portrayed to perfection.

Returning cast members Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk), and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) turn in some of their finest work to date. Each actor is allowed to embrace new character traits and the interaction between them is often exquisite. The standout performance of this feature is undoubtedly Hemsworth’s who, likely as a result of some script liberties, is able to truly shine this time around. It’s rumored many scenes were improvised and seems likely; the free flowing storytelling and dialogue pave the way for outrageous entertainment and some nuanced acting—revealing a greater depth of talent than Hemsworth in particular was previously credited with.

Regarding talent and ability, there is also no shortage when it comes to the characters. This made for some of the most creative fighting presented in an action movie, which is impressive to be able to say after seventeen films. The fight scenes are choreographed brilliantly, utilizing some new-found power in a beautiful manner. Paying close attention to everything going on in Ragnarok’s action sequences is mandatory; a lot goes on, meaning a lot can go unnoticed.

Additionally, Thor: Ragnarok features some incredible visual effects. This film takes us to all corners of the cosmos, so the quality of the animation was essential to achieving a cohesive and impressive overall feel. Luckily, the endlessly talented folks responsible for that aspect of this project performed, and the result is beautiful. Even more impressive than the setting itself is the composition of these effects: action sequences pitting a live actor against computer-generated characters—in an animated setting and using impractical abilities—all coming across as both practical and plausible— is perhaps the major triumph of this flick.

The soundtrack for this film is also a heavy contributor to the film’s overall quality. It incorporates beloved scores from previous outings, as well as familiar songs, that tie into the sequences perfectly and is unlike anything put out by Marvel thus far. Utilizing untraditional sounds and instruments in a film score, while seamlessly blending with recognizable tunes, feels appropriate and symbolic for a film that is itself untraditional.

Lastly, script writers Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost did an impressive job with a monumental task. The characters are given natural interaction, with dialogue that doesn’t feel abnormal and forced. While credit is surely due to the ability of the actors, it is important to recognize that they are only as good as the lines they are given.

Thor: Ragnarok is, however, not a perfect movie. While Hela is a good antagonist, performed quite well by Blanchett, at times, her backstory feels forced and thereby undesirable. Additionally, newcomers Valkyrie and Skurge The Executioner are underutilized. While familiar characters are given a lot of development and action, we see an unfortunate lack of these intriguing new faces.

Furthermore, the effects, while beautiful, are occasionally overwhelming. As is often the case with a film set far beyond our planet, there are times when the break between reality and what is generated becomes a little too noticeable. A note that is nearly impossible to avoid, but significant nonetheless. Watching with a keen eye for poor visuals is sure to turn up a few flaws.

Lastly, there a number of issues with the story’s plot. While it does a good job handling a huge story, there are multiple times that the story becomes cheesy and silly. It occasionally rushed, and often is too cliche for comfort.

Nevertheless, Thor: Ragnarok is yet another triumph for Marvel Studios. Easily this film has become the highlight of the trilogy, and redeems poor utilization of Thor in his solo outings and the Avengers movies. Complex storytelling, an impeccable cast, outstanding visuals, entertaining dialogue, and a perfect soundtrack, make its few flaws nearly inconsequential.

CineMajors Rating: 8/10

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