Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best films of 2017 and Marvel’s best movie to date. I know that’s saying a lot, considering Iron Man and Guardians of The Galaxy are so highly regarded, but for now, I’m team Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) has created something so refreshingly entertaining, it makes Thor and Thor: The Dark World look absolutely forgettable by comparison.
Thor: Ragnarok begins with Thor imprisoned on a foreign planet, hammerless and in a race against time. With Mjolnir gone and no way of getting home, Thor is forced to fight in a gladiator-like arena for his freedom. The only problem? The Grandmasters’ current champion is none other than the Hulk. Can Thor summon the strength to make it back to Asgard before Hela causes Ragnarok, the destruction of Thor’s kingdom?
One of the biggest highlights of the film is Hela, played by the talented Cate Blanchett. While she’s more than capable of playing any role, Blanchett rarely plays the villain, let alone the ‘goddess of death’. This is why it’s such a treat to see her embrace the anger and pain that makes Hela such an intense and dangerous character. I only wish the film took the time to go a little more in-depth into her backstory and motivations, but underdeveloped villains is kind of something Marvel is known for at this point. As things stand, Hela is easily one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far.
Even though Hela didn’t get the exposure I would have liked, Waititi did a wonderful job exploring Thor and Hulk’s personalities. We get to see a Thor that is powerless and vulnerable, which is a welcome change given how overpowered he’s felt in previous films. But above all else,we got a taste of what the Hulk is like without Banner, as Mark Ruffalo spends a lot of time as the former. As a longtime fan, the evolution of the Hulk-Banner dynamic is an intriguing one, which is why I was so happy to see Waititi take the approach he did, allowing us to see the other side of the big green monster.
While I’m always impressed with Waititi’s work behind the camera, I like that he steps in front of the camera from time-to-time. In Ragnarok, Waititi plays a character from Planet Hulk, Krog. His take on the character is hilarious and it will make you forget about past iterations. Much of the same can be said of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster – who is nothing short of perfection. Goldblum is his typical weird and quirky self and it works splendidly. I wasn’t sure about the choice originally, but after seeing the film I’m convinced Waititi made the right decision. Goldblum can do no wrong!
Another performance I was fond of was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, the last remaining Valkyrior (a group of female lead warriors). Filled with sorrow and regret, Valkyrie spends the majority of her time booing, as she’s also stranded and working for the Grandmaster. She has a friendly relationship with Hulk, which is interesting because very few do.
I also love how colorful and vibrant Ragnarok is, to the point where it actually made me wish I had seen it in 3D. It reminds me of a mixture of Tron, Gladiator and Guardians of the Galaxy all wrapped up in one. It had a killer soundtrack, is hilariously clever and has some of the most memorable fight scenes the MCU has to offer. What could be better than Hulk vs Thor in a gladiator-style arena, surrounded by screaming fans in a fight to the death?
Thor: Ragnarok is a knockout and delivers in almost every way imaginable. Waititi’s patented brand of quirky humor and charm marries with the story perfectly. It brought a fun and refreshing feel to a franchise that desperately needed a ‘jolt’ (pun intended). While I wish they had spent more time focusing on Hela, the film is still a massive success. From Thor and Hulk’s hysterical chemistry to Goldblum’s zany interpretation of the Grandmaster, Thor: Ragnarok will go down as one of Marvel’s greatest movies. Bring on Infinity War!