Thor Ragnarok concludes the weakest MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) trilogy with another disappointment. Taika Waititi’s (director) take on the God of Thunder is certainly the best Thor flick on offer, but most things will outshine a turd.
We find Thor [Chris Hemsworth] in the clutches of Surtur [Clancy Brown], and after a thrilling conflict Thor returns Surtur (ensnared in a crown) to Asgard; Thor believes he has averted Ragnarok, the Asgardian apocalypse. After a quick liaison with Stephen Strange [Benedict Cumberbatch], Thor and Loki [Tom Hiddleston] are captured. Thor is forced to compete with Bruce Banner [Mark Ruffalo], the Incredible Hulk. Together, with Loki and Valkyrie [Tessa Thompson], they turn their attentions to saving Asgard from Hela [Cate Blanchett].
The film’s biggest problems stem from the decision to shift to a comedic tone. Thor becomes a joke in the finale to his trilogy, outshone by more intimidating players such as Valkyrie (or Hulk).
Tessa Thompson steals the show as Valkyrie; an alcoholic warrior, frustrated by her past. Thompson adds a swagger to the role, which becomes subtly cheeky, or confident; however, her character is not to be trifled with. In Waititi’s stunning slow-motion conflicts, Thompson demonstrates a fearsome fury which invokes a strong desire to see her defeat Hela. Thor seems to just sort of go from place to place; he frees Hulk, and builds a team, but it is hard to believe in the God of Thunder when he gets captured so often.
Thor’s eye is slashed out, but it only ever resembles a black eye. I would assume this decision enables the film to remain accessible to its young demographic, but it leads to a jarring effect. In one of the films very few tense moments, I find myself disinterested because I cannot buy the thought of a sharp sword slashing a man’s face, and leaving a black eye.
Waititi does offer a visual saving-grace with his slow-motion landscapes that depict the conflict between Hela, and the Valkyrie. Emblazoned with light, the Valkyrie fly in on the silhouettes of spectacular winged beasts: a lonely Hela, down below, watches from the dark, smoky terrain. It’s stunningly majestic, and tragically brief (even in slow-motion). Waititi offers a powerful painting, with a solemn atmosphere dropped into the middle of a film where the protagonist is a running, muscular, joke.
Loki’s games are kept to a minimum, and Thor sees through them all. The film provides a melancholy elevator scene: Thor informs Loki of his (Thor’s) acceptance of their differences. Immediately, Loki attempts to trick Thor, but Thor, rather spontaneously, shuts Loki down. When you have but one exceptional villain in your movie universe, do not make him a (anti-)hero; Hiddleston is incredibly charismatic, and the perfect mischief maker – the thrilling trickster behind the invasion of New York seems quite the stranger by comparison.
‘Thor Ragnarok’ is a disappointment, and a poor end to the year for the MCU; however, it offers several unexpected delights that I sincerely hope will return in the future.