Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

A neon-colored, pop-infused sci-fi/fantasy epic from the wildly-imaginative mind of Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok boldly reimagines the CBM genre – with nice Hulk v. Thor action, bleeding-edge idiosyncrasy, and mixed silly/juvenile hit-and-miss humor exposition on dark Norse mythology. 7.5/10.

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Ragnarok. A dark Norse mythological tale about the apocalypse and destruction of all life on Asgard. There was major hype surroundig this film when it was announced. Marvel had had an ok run with Thor movies in the past with the respectable and serviceable Thor 1 but muddled and poorly executed Thor 2, but the stakes were certainly going to be much higher this time around and the inclusion of two other Marvel heavy-hitters: The Hulk and Doctor Strange made fans hopeful that the third time really was the charm. However, they then revealed that they were going to be making it a comedy (that looking like the direction Marvel’s heading after being bought by Disney), which worried fans right away and rightfully so: Thor: Ragnarok is a mixed result of improper blending of two eras of Marvel movies: the older focused and great superhero adaptations for their titular heroes and the new Disney-fied comedies that are slowly suffocating what otherwise could hav been great films.

From the very first second of the movie, the joke overload begins. Trapped in a dark cave chained up in front of a flame monster, Hemsworth has to turn the situation funny because no serious moments are allowed. He is not bad at comedy and some of his jokes are pretty clever in hindsight, but when you’re doused with them literally almost every minute of the film, it heavily undermines and dilutes the effect. Many of the jokes focus on awful, juvenile topics I was appalled were even allowed to be included like poop, rock-paper-scissors, and how funny shake-weights are.. I HATE that Disney and modern Marvel are going in this direction and selling out potentially great, artful films like 2008’s Iron Man and CA: The Winter Soldier for a cheap  laugh by the kid audience they seem to be tailoring their new movies for (Same problem was seen in both Guardians of The Galaxy and most recently Spider-Man: Homecoming).

The movie also has other problems, like certain cinematography choices making the colors too neon-y and poorly-modeled set designs that feel too familiar from the GoTG movies. The soundtrack’s pop and techno-infusion just feels off for this macho a movie with as big a magnitude as Hulk vs. Thor. Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is a great song choice, but overused and its effect dampened from being included in every trailer extensively. Besides that, Valkyrie is a little underdeveloped, Jeff Goldblum and creatures like Korg not funny, Doctor Strange mismarketed as a huge part of the movie when he literally has 1 scene, Hela’s & Loki’s suits look cheap/badly-designed, and Hulk looks and talks like a Shakespearean actor (WTF).

Now, while there are certainly a lot of problems in the movie, I would be lying if I said there weren’t some great things it does that make it a mixed product instead of failure.  For one, Ragnarok features good action scenes and fight choreography. The fight scenes are admittedly strong here, and a step-up from Marvel’s usual movies where the fights have little to no stakes (Spider-Man: Homecoming) or make the heroes/villains look somewhat weak (Avengers 2 Ultron) in contrast to DC movies like Man of Steel and Wonder Woman where the titular heroes can take down an entire building with one hit or Superman carry an entire space shuttle or cruise liner himself. Thor can fight much better, looks awesome when he can control and wield lightning, and even has a zip and more energy doing things like flipping and twirling while fighting that make the faster-paced fights more thrilling. The best fight, and one of the best moments in recent MCU history, is the Hulk v. Thor gladiator fight. That moment definitely delivers a popcorn-worthy action sequence between two of Marvel’s best heroes, and while I wish it were longer and not interrupted by comedy, is worth the price of admission and wowed me.

Also, the fights with the film’s main villain are great, bringing me to my next pro in the movie: Hela is a really good villain. This is something Marvel struggles with immensely, as I actually have a hard time remembering a good villain in a Marvel movie except for Winter Solider in CA:TWS and Loki in Avengers 1. But, Hela breaks that bad trend and is strong and powerful, can take down a crowd of warriors herself, and is driven with a clear and dark purpose that’s well-executed until she’s stopped in the final act. Besides her poor-looking costume and helmet that just looks weird no matter how you slice it, she is the best villain in recent Marvel memory, one that actually isn’t nerfed and accomplishes a lot in the 100 minutes, and one I can finally stand behind.

Thor’s new look is great too and Hulk has better CGI, with great cinematography overall as well. The colors are a little too neon-y and saturated in vast parts of the film, but the set pieces, character placements, and imaginative, varied shots are refreshing and pleasing to look at, especially in beautiful scenes like the dreamy Hela vs. Valkyries shot – The jaw-dropper in the film for sure. Mark Ruffalo is more serious and grounded as a good counter to make sure the comedy doesn’t get too out-of-hand, and the final act where him, Thor, and Valkyrie take on Hela and her zombie army with toned-down comedy in classic superhero movie fashion is great to watch. It’s such a shame that the first half of the movie is such a joke and wasted because the last hour or so is so much better and could’ve made for an All-Time great superhero movie if not soiled by comedy.

Overall, I’m torn on Thor: Ragnarok. I originally expected an epic, serious film accurately depicting the dark mythological source matierial, which changed after the first trailer to expecting more comedy but still excited, to being almost sickened by how much was included in the end product. But, it is hard to truly hate Ragnarok as much as I hated for example Spider-Man: Homecoming and GoTG Vol. 2 because the story is there, it delivers some great action and superhero scenes, and has a good villain and cinematography worth remembering. There is no plane of existence or section of the universe where this film deserves more than like a 7-7.2/10, and while Ragnarok was a step in the right direction from Homecoming and a pretty serviceable time at the movies, it foreshadows possible dark times ahead for Marvel cinematically if they keep falling victim to this self-induced insatiable lust for juvenile-comedy over superheroics.

Official CLC Score: 7.5/10