It’s certain that the term ‘Thor’ has now become a household name after the Marvel comic hero’s vivid appearances in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011), Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World (2013), and the Avengers series. But now Thor fans can finally feast their eyes on the long awaited third film to the Thor series- Thor: Ragnarok. While its predecessors did exude a strong, sometimes intensely serious presence while doing a splendid job with introducing Thor to mainstream media, hiring director and Kiwi native, Taiki Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) applied a more comedic tone to the third film of the Thor series. So was his gamble of applying his comedic genius to this renown franchise a worthy one or will it leave viewers with dissatisfied THORghts?
Ragnarok dives into the adversity Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is faced with after being vanished from his home planet Asgard, and imprisoned on the opposite side of the universe in Sakaar. He is then forced by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to battle against his ally and fellow fighter, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiatorial arena. It truly begs the question as to why Thor and Hulk were not a pair or duo in the previous Avengers films, just because their chemistry in this film is off the charts- it’s definitely a pairing that we didn’t think we needed in our lives, but Waititi proves otherwise by proving to us that yes, we do need to see Thor and Hulk more in the future Marvel franchise films- the comedic magic is contagious for all viewers.
Futhermore, Ragnarok brings back well- known villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston), world- famous neurosurgeon Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) but then it goes to introduce new characters like the Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), an Asgardian exile who shared countless banters with Thor; but most importantly a new villain, who happens to be Thor’s long lost sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). IT appears that their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) kept her locked away due to her harmful and dangerous persona. This obviously backfired after an event lead to her release, which is not good for Asgard especially when they are faced with a villain who is not only aggressive, but also just as strong as Thor himself. The only downfall to this film would be the lack of impact Ragnarok’s villain had on the film in its entirety. Yes, she is overly aggressive and has an unjust backstory, but her all-conquering motives to overtake Thor fall quite short and aren’t as significant compared to previous villains- especially when her vicious moments aren’t shown frequently throughout the film.
With that being said and on a much lighter note, Ragnarok excels and outdoes its predecessors in the comedy realm, while still maintaining that ounce of action-packed goodness. With kiwi-inspired humour subtly integrated into the script (sometimes improvised), to chaos and manic in numerous battles, specifically, on the Bifrost bridge; with 70’s prog rock music assisting the action. It’s all a magical pool of lively and exquisite joy!
I will have to commend Waititi and writer Eric Pearson on their arduous efforts with this film. Although it doesn’t contain the full Shakespearian imagery that was established by Kenneth Branagh, it sure does give diversity and flexibility to the Marvel Universe, in that it cautiously created an all-time colourfully chaotic film that had a great balance of seriousness and comedy. For those who feel that a different spin to this film may be detrimental to the franchise, it is infact a rebirth to the franchise in its own right yet it still abides to the standard Marvel regulations.
At the end of the day, you’re in for one heck of a ride so be sure to catch Thor: Ragnarok in all NZ cinemas today!