Honestly, I wanted to call this article Thor, Motherfuckers!!! This goddamn movie makes me want to smack a troll in the chops with a war hammer. I want to tear a hole in the sky with my fanboy hard-on. I’m practically sitting here in a puddle of my own drool after watching Thor: Ragnarok. I shit you not, I could fucking cry I am so delighted with this film.
I have to admit, though, that I walked into the theater today with more than a little trepidation. Taika Waititi has proved himself a gifted director when it comes to oddball independent comedies like the hilarious What We Do in the Shadows but this is the big leagues. Was Mr. Waititi up to the task of directing a large-scale super-action film. The trailers for Thor: Ragnarok have been promising enough. It’s been clear from the advertising blitz that this Thor film was going to be a lot more lighthearted and, dare I say it, fun, than Thor: The Dark World. But would it have scope? Would it have bite? I happily concede now that my fears were misplaced. This is the Thor movie I have been waiting for.
Everything about this film is a departure from the first two entries in the Thor franchise; the story structure, the visual approach, the tone and certainly the writing. The script, by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, draws heavily on the classic Walt Simonson Mighty Thor Stories as well as the Planet Hulk storyline from writer Greg Pak, pencilers Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti and inker Jeffrey Huet. The overall tone here is most assuredly taken from the Simonson era Thor. There is plenty of big, big action and dry humor as well as some fairly gritty violence which should satiate the Planet Hulk fans. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is portrayed as noble but not annoyingly so and, in keeping with Norse legend, not the smartest denizen of the Golden Realm.
In this outing, Thor faces off against the nigh-unstoppable Hela (Cate Blanchett). Ms. Blanchett seems determined to single-handedly take care of Marvel’s villain problem. She’s engaging, visually stunning (in an honest to God Jack Kirby costume) and she presents an existential threat to Asgard. Gloom and doom aside, this is all just an excuse to hurl Thor across the cosmos to the planet Sakaar where, of course, he will be forced to fight in the gladiator pits of the Grandmaster, portrayed here with slimy elan by Jeff Goldblum.
I won’t bore you with details about the plot nor dick you over with spoilers. Suffice to say, there is punching aplenty. Then there are explosions, stabbings, more punchings, spaceship shootouts, betrayals, swordfights, more punchings all stitched together with laugh-out-loud dry humor. To make things even sweeter, Sakaar is visualized as a real shithole with a look lifted straight from the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine, circa 1978.
Be aware, this is the second of Marvel’s cosmic movies. If you aren’t ready to watch ludicrous, otherworldly action taking place on a broad canvas with bold colors, this ain’t your film. Also, a warning for the fanboys. Several well-established Marvel characters with roots in the 1960’s are killed off in vicious fashion…some of them almost casually. On the whole, though, I found this film to be amazingly entertaining. Easily the most fun Marvel film to date. The climax was a mixture of comfortable tropes and slightly unexpected twists blended with more of Mr. Waititi’s wry humor.
There is a lot crammed into this film, not the least of which is the set up for Avengers: Infinity War but the pacing, and the obvious fun the cast are having, keep things from feeling forced. What more can I say? Stop reading this, get off the interwebs and go watch the movie. Do it now. Excelsior!
He also sings for the Supra-70s band, RIFLE.