A Röky Road To Redemption
Heyo, heyo, everyone. With a blistering weekend of gigs coming up, my funds have sadly been reserved, rather than being blown on going to the cinema loads of times (like I’d like). That being said, there was no way I was gonna be missing what critics have been calling “the best superhero movie in a decade”. Thankfully, neither were my parents, so I got in with them; family bonding for them, free ticket for me, win for everyone.
Coming in at no. 10 on my most anticipated movies of the year (under King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword for you Stuff And That trivia buffs out there), Ragnarok, Thor’s third solo outing, is already an immediate departure from everything else in his canon, with an entirely new style brought about in no small part by director Taika Waititi. With both Thor and Thor 2 being some of the weakest MCU flicks in my eyes, this shift seemed to be exactly what the character needed, and the aforementioned rave reviews I read going into this on served to cement this. However, is the God of Thunder still ready to rumble? Or is it his final spark?
Of course this was gonna be awesome. OF COURSE IT WAS. Obviously. However, how awesome it was gonna be was to be determined by how much Taika Waititi left his directorial stamp on the project, a stamp that was formed by indie classics such as What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s spectacular Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Thankfully, this stamp was huge, with Waititi’s offbeat humour, reminiscent of collaborator and fellow countryman Jermaine Clement and his work with Flight Of The Conchords, permeating through the film. In a way, it was surreal to see a huge blockbuster Marvel film taking the same sense of humour as Tongan Ninja, but that made it all the more satisfying.
In addition to this, Waititi’s handling of the huge action set pieces you’d expect from an MCU outing was marvel-ous. While it wasn’t anything radically different to what we’ve seen already this year in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the seamless merging of these sci-fi ‘splosion fests with the more fantastical element the Asgardian films take produced something that felt new in every way. Aside from this, critics wouldn’t have too far to stretch to find multiple similarities between this and GotG, both films taking place away from the MCU’s core setting, both films having a strong sci-fi element and sense of humour, both films with an indelibly bright visual scheme. However, even though there are subtleties throughout that distinguish it, with Infinity War coming up, it seems like Marvel are beginning to bridge that gap between the Guardians and the Avengers, something that’ll prove fruitful in the future I’m sure.
Chris Hemsworth once again returns to, like, the only role he’s ever in where he has more than 40 lines of dialogue (sweet gig if you ask me), as The God of Thunder himself. While it’s always been teased upon, especially in the Avengers films, Thor’s more comedic side definitely came to light in a big way in Ragnarok, with Hemsworth playing up to musclehead role brilliantly. Of course, it wasn’t a hindrance to have the writing power of Waititi behind him, but he was entertaining nonetheless. As well as this, we had, what I would call, an all-star cast for the ages. With Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins all returning to play Loki, Heimdall and Odin respectively, there is no shortage of linkage to the original 2 films, despite how far out the visuals are.
In addition to this, we’ve Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Cumberbatch coming in as the Hulk and Doctor Strange, each giving some fun airtime to some fun characters, and Hulk being another key source of comedy in the film. Then, there’s Cate Blanchett putting in a stellar turn as Hela, Thor’s sister, the Goddess of Death and, you guessed it, our baddie.
After scrolling through the #justicefor-barbed halls of Twitter, I stumbled across the headline “Why Hela Did Nothing A Male Villain Wouldn’t Do, And Why That’s A Good Thing”, or something along those lines. Now, of course, I didn’t read the article because writing about movies on the internet is lame and I do NOT support it, but they do have a point. Hela’s potential sexuality wasn’t exploited at all, as is the complete opposite case with most female movie villains, or femme fatales, lest we forget, with the writing and Blanchett’s performance being much more focused on her strength and power, which I thought was really great from a progressive aspect. She was dandy in the role anyway.
Oh yeah, and Jeff Goldblum. He was amazing. He’s Jeff Goldblum.
As I’ve said, the acid trip visuals are a beauty to behold. Of course, this is in nooooo way influenced by my love of films like Mad Max: Fury Road, who wear batshit eye candy like a badge, but the crazy character design and psychedelic sci-fi twist the film took, especially for a character like Thor, who’s imagery isn’t exactly the most vibrant, was simply ingenious. There was also the soundtrack, which is one of the only things I could slightly criticize the film for. Even though Led Zep’s Immigrant Song is legendarily incrediblé, the fact that they used it twice (once in the first fight, once in the last fight), maybe as a way to show how ‘some thangs just never change, yuh-huck’, did kinda disappoint me, especially considering how many other songs they coulda used, with Marvel’s seemingly limitless licensing budget. Then, there’s my growing distaste of classic rock being used in every damn blockbuster today, but I love Zeppelin so I’m not even gonna go there…
Honestly, there’s just an element of overwhelming entertainment to Ragnarok. Not the least bit amplified by the underwhelms of the previous two entries in the trilogy, Thor’s third solo outing proves to be the perfect superhero blockbuster, delivering on everything I was expecting from Guardians Vol. 2 earlier in the year, and then some. It joins the ranks of what I would call the creme-de-la-creme of MCU flicks (Guardians 1, Avengers Assemble, Winter Soldier and Iron Man, if you were wondering), thanks to it being the epitome of everything I expect from the studio. What puts it a mark ahead though, in many ways, is Taika Waititi’s stellar writing and direction, taking both the character and the mythology off the beaten path to become great, while adding his Waititi-isms to make it his own.
Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is by far the most entertaining film I’ve seen this year and what I’d call my favourite so far. This is due to Taika Waititi’s fantastic leadership of the project, as well the superb cast, delectably explosive sci-fi set pieces and razor-sharp dialogue. It retained all the charming quirkiness of an independent comedy, while blowing it up to the size of a monumental blockbuster, ending up with the best of both. As I’ve said, the sheer entertainment and overwhelming joy I got from this flick puts it slightly above the awesome Logan in terms of enjoyment, and, though it was only no. 10 on my anticipation list, this is my favourite film of the year so far.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations