Crackling thunder and humor: A “Thor: Ragnarok” film review

4.33 over 5 stars.

Marvel has outdone itself once again with “Thor: Ragnarok” – a colorful (quite literally) addition to the comic giant’s cinematic universe. The Taika Waititi film is a reinvention of a typical Marvel franchise, with its flamboyant humor that seemed to have overshadowed its plot. Despite the weak storytelling, die-hard Marvel fans, and even casual movie-goers, would still love the movie, given its terrific cast, back-to-the-80’s music, and well-orchestrated action sequences. It cannot be denied then that “Thor: Ragnarok” is truly a strong contender for the title as the best Thor – or even Marvel – movie to date.

The Story

3.88 over 5 stars.

In “Thor: Ragnarok” the god of thunder is on a quest to prevent the annihilation of his home, Asgard. With the death of his father, Odin, a new villain – Hela, the goddess of death, Odin’s firstborn child – is set loose from imprisonment.  She destroys the Mjolnir, thus proving that she is stronger than Thor and Loki, Odin’s adopted son, the god of mischief. As the two brothers attempt to flee from her via the Bifrost Bridge, Hela follows suit and pushes them off-track into the void. With Thor and Loki gone, Hela succeeds in claiming the throne of Asgard for herself. She then unleashes death upon those who oppose her, and brings life to her fallen warriors and even her giant pet wolf, Fenris.

Meanwhile, Thor finds himself stranded in the planet Sakaar where Scrapper 142, a Valkyrie-turned-bounty hunter, brings him to the Grandmaster. The planet’s ruler then forces him to be a gladiator who shall compete in a Contest of Champions. Escape from this peculiar and unfriendly world seems futile and nowhere near possible, but Thor is not eager to accept defeat.

With the thunder god light years away from home, Asgard is without a doubt in big trouble under Hela’s reign. Will Thor be able to find a way out of Sakaar, or will Asgard fall into complete ruin?

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“Say no more, fam” (Photo from the Internet Movie Database)

The story of “Thor: Ragnarok” is a refreshing take on Norse mythology. Ragnarok is believed to be a series of catastrophic events that will lead to the destruction and rebirth of the world. In the movie though, Ragnarok is a prophesied apocalypse that Thor will do everything to prevent from happening for it will cause the annihilation of Asgard; and this is the main plot point.

Hence, the movie actually boasts of a simple storyline that is easy to understand. Moreover, what truly engages the movie-goers would be its vast offering of outstanding wit. However, it seems that the screenwriters and the director relied too heavily on each character’s punch lines to drive the story forward that its themes were obscured in shadow. Moreover, the plot was somehow superficial, especially when it comes to the main villain’s backstory. Hela’s motivation to rule over Asgard made me remark, “that’s it?” Perhaps she is just pure, unadulterated evil in nature, but, I don’t know, it just felt that her reasons were insufficient.

Nevertheless, I liked how the filmmakers have written Scrapper 142’s past. Oh, and how the finale unfolded was good as well. I would not dare spoil you, so just go to the cinema, okay?

Sights and Sounds

4.55 and 4.58 over 5 stars, respectively.

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Fall from grace. (Photo from the Internet Movie Database)

This third Thor film is a big CGI potluck party. The visual effects added thrill to the masterfully choreographed action sequences, but there were still sceneries that appeared too fake. Still, I really loved how the backstory of Scrapper 142 was shown. The cinematography and CGI were just perfect. Kudos to those who worked for that particular event in the movie!

Meanwhile, the soundtrack was an enormous leap away from traditional action film scoring. Instead of using epic-sounding orchestra tracks with choir members straining their vocal chords, composer Mark Mothersbaugh opted to make a distinctive and synthesized score for this film. In addition, lyrical songs from the 80’s were utilized in many of the action sequences, and this technique proved to be effective. In one of the heart-racing action sequences, each blow was artfully complemented by Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.

Starrers

4.75 over 5 stars.

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The cast at the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles, California. From left to right: Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo. (Photo from the Internet Movie Database)

“Thor: Ragnarok” is composed of an amazing cast, starting off with the man who played the titular role himself, Chris Hemsworth. The Thor we see in this installment is a different one – he has buzz-cut hair, his hammer is wrecked, and he goes cyclops-ish towards the end. Moreover, he seems to have grown a funnier bone in his system! Thor is no longer the boring, burly man with a corn-colored bush screaming for a day at the salon, but is now a cool and hip god whom everyone enjoyed to see in the movie house.

Of course, Tom Hiddleston is perfect as always as Loki. He has become a crowd-favorite from previous Marvel films, and he still is. Meanwhile, Hulk was given more character in this third Thor film, and Mark Ruffalo did deliver. Tess Thompson was also good as Scrapper 142. Thank gods that she will be appearing in future MCU films.

But I guess I have to give it to Cate Blanchett for her spooks-inducing performance as Hela. Her cadence was that of a blood-thirsty queen, and she was really creepy. It was just disappointing though that her character was underdeveloped, thanks to the lack of a strong backstory. Regardless, Blanchett was beyond flawless for the role. Indeed, after her portrayal of Lady Tremaine in the live action adaptation of “Cinderella”, and now this, she has risen to be at par with Angelina Jolie as being a mistress of evil.

Film Score Board_Thor Ragnarok

In a world where sequels usually destroy the entire franchise, “Thor: Ragnarok” seems to be a reckoning light. This film might even be better than its predecessor Thor films. Despite its seemingly feeble and shallow plot, the movie’s amusing comedy is a hit to the viewers. Its cast, action scenes and music were also plus points for the motion picture.

With DC’s “Wonder Woman” shaking the superhero movie industry, and “Justice League” threatening to destroy, Marvel appears to be un-rattled. “Thor: Ragnarok” is the studio’s answer-back at DC, and I think that Marvel still has what it takes to win the raging battle. It even has the highly anticipated “Avengers: Infinity War” in its line-up, and I just could not wait to see if it could pwn DC’s “Justice League” or not. Well, good luck to both studios, and may the best comic giant win!

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Watched “Thor: Ragnarok” at SM North EDSA, Quezon City with high school friends-slash-movie buddies, Lei and Ken.

This blog post’s featured image is from the official Thor Facebook page.
 

 

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