Usually, if you weren’t able to hear everything in a movie due to the audience interfering you’d be upset. People talking too loudly, whipping out their phones, or ushering past you to get to the bathroom can seriously ruin the film watching experience. Then there are films like Thor: Ragnarok, which has the audience in the palm of its hand, forcing them to laugh hysterically for long bouts. This film was seriously funny to the point where people were laughing longer than intended. I’m sure of it, because I must have missed a solid three minutes of dialogue due to the laughing crowd.
Great comedies make it look easy, hammering away with good setups, surprises, and callbacks to previous jokes at just the right moments. This movie nails the comedy — for this reason I think it’s safe to say Thor: Ragnarok has one of the tightest scripts of any Marvel film to date. It sets out to make the audience laugh, tell a fun story that’s always changing, and satisfy with resounding changes for the characters and the story as a whole.
Alternate title: Thor: A Man Without a Hammer.
Many folks will be reminded of Guardians of the Galaxy when watching this film, as it delivers a similar mix of action and humor that is so damn rare. The film effortlessly cuts from Thor getting punched, to his awkwardness at not making the heroic exit that was supposed to charm the lady. It also spreads out the comedy, with every character getting a chance to make the audience laugh. Even Hela, played extraordinarily by Cate Blanchett, gets a silly moment, and it works! Sadly some of the funniest moments were spoiled by trailers, but fear not, because you will laugh again at them as the film gets you into a groove. Again, you’re in the palm of its hand and you never want it to end.
That’s an aspect that is nailed if you’re a comic book reader. The best comics are those that make you wish the story never ended — and secretly, you know it won’t since these are serial stories. I admit I had a pang of sorrow knowing one day Chris Hemsworth won’t be playing Thor and Tom Hiddleston will eventually need to hang up his curved horns. That said, this film is very good at managing all its twists and turns so that you won’t be wondering that (unless you’re a morose motherfucker like me).
Director Taika Waititi is the hottest director in all the world right now. Period. After the excellent Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows before that, it’s safe to say he can manage drama and comedy like no other. All the buzz suggested it would be funny, but the film is very economical with the dramatic beats too. Anthony Hopkins plays Odin incredibly and his moments with Thor and Loki are heartfelt and pure. Thor and Loki share their own moments which you’ll believe. The fact that these moments are the quiet between action and all-out comedy speaks volumes to Waititi’s ability to pace the film and deliver a sliver of many colors at every moment. I can’t wait for whatever he directs next.
Hulk adds a lot to the narrative.
This film also has a ton of color, with the galaxy looking like sprays of paint that sparkle every time the camera pans. The world Thor ends up in — the same one where he fights Hulk in the ring that you’ve seen in all the commercials — is also incredibly colorful. It’s this style that gives the films hope and life in a space genre that’s typically dark and self-contained (I’m looking at you, Alien franchise). Jeff Goldblum may have been the perfect casting to go along with this palette, since his acting style imbues the same sense of color and creative chaos. You’ll be in the palm of his hand every moment he’s on screen. This goes for other actors as well, including Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie. She’s quite simply charming in this film and manages to throw in a bit of acting in quieter moments, or reaction shots, in such a way to give her character a bit more life. She’s an excellent actor and, like Blanchett, gives her character an extra layer, even with less screen time than other actors, due to her ability to react and act in quick moments.
Blanchett is fantastic.
The action doesn’t let up either. Everyone knows Hulk and Thor go at it, and that scene delivers. The mix of graphics and real shots in this sequence is great, as are the slow motion shots and displays of awesome strength. The opening is a highlight for Thor fans in particular, as he goes up against a horde of enemies displaying many of the abilities we’ve seen in the comics, like spinning Mjolnir to ward off blasts or throwing and then calling it to take out baddies. If you came for a spectacle you won’t be disappointed, with an ending that is grand in scope, pushes Thor’s power set in new ways, and entertains on all levels.
I was dazzled by Thor: Ragnarok, largely because it managed to pace itself with humor, action, character work, and story so well. It’s a fun film that you’ll reflect on with admiration because it managed to pack all sorts of entertainment into a sleek two-hour body many films can’t muster over an entire trilogy.