Thor hasn’t had the best time when it comes to his standalone movies. They have all been rather flat and uninspiring, bordering upon dull; All things considered, Thor: Ragnarok isn’t. It’s loud, garish and ridiculous from open ’til close, really giving it a sense of character that the Thor series has been lacking.
However, it’s not the right kind of character. It feels more like something that would happen to the Guardians of the Galaxy than the mighty Thor. Thor being more of a no nonsense hero, dealing with mythical beasts and interdimensional monsters rather than getting stranded on junker planets and having to take part in a gladitorial deathmatches.
That being said the new characters we’re introduced to fit perfectly within the context of the story; The Disgraced Valkyrie, Veteran Gladiator Korg, The Grandmaster and his cronies. These characters are great in their own right but the fact that the Valkyrie, the only character to receive any real character development by the end of the movie, doesn’t even have a name beyond “Valkyrie” is appalling. The main supporting character doesn’t even get named, making it feel like Ragnarok was a little bit rushed.
The Valkyrie, she literally doesn’t have an actual name, isn’t the only character who feels a rushed. The main villain, protrayed quite Marvel-ously by Cate Blanchett, Hela’s introduction is unfortunately sudden. There’s despairingly little build up before she appears and proceeds to violently destroy literally everything. Ego in Guardians Vol. 2 was gradually built up to be the villain throughout the whole movie, Hela just kind of appears. It’s a huge shame that the villain is so flat and uninteresting, she’s pissed that Odin liked Thor and Loki more after he decided not to kill everything. That’s it.
So the movie isn’t without its flaws and something about it feels horribly off, but separating it from the previous Thor movies makes it an entirely different movie. That’s exactly what it is, entirely different. The characters and story, the visual aesthetics and themes are all different. Asgard, although still magnificent, doesn’t appear to have the same shimmer of golden light around it. Sakaar provides a brilliant antithesis however, resplendent in it’s squalor and garish bright colours.
The writing outside of the quite glaring flaws is fantastic. The humour is solid and the slightly more foul-mouthed approach feels a little more mature. Thor and co. swear just often enough to give it meaning rather than overplaying it and losing its lustre. Korg kind of steals the show but that might just be because I’m a sucker for an Australian accent and some really dumb humour.
The story itself flows together beautifully, kicking off with a brilliant action scene that sets up the whole Ragnarok situation before moving on briskly. The events on Sakaar leading up to Thor and the gang’s escape progress at a steady pace, as does the decline of Asgard. It’s actually quite great to see the two storylines mirroring each other, as Asgard crumbles into tyranny, the Sakaar rebellion rises to power. It shows an interesting dynamic balance that as one rises the other falls.
This review is much like the Thor movie. You’d think after a week of attempting to write this review it would be the most professional and highly polished piece of my career. You’d be wrong. Thor: Ragnarok was two years in the making and so it should have been mostly flawless….but it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great watch and if it was standing alone from the previous Thor movies it would probably be fantastic, but as it stands it’s a little confused and feels like the writers got lost a long the way, just a little bit.
I’m not saying don’t see Thor: Ragnarok, I’m just saying don’t expect to be blown away. It’s without doubt the best entry into the Thor series in sheer entertainment value but at the price of the unique characters. That being said, Jeff Goldblum as the Collector is pretty great and Korg is amazing.