Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor's quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.
I am always intrigued to find modern productions that are based on ancient heroes because so much is already familiar. I remember studying Norse mythology when I was a teenager and learning about Thor (with his hammer) ruling over the thunderstorms, Loki who was always so unpredictable, Odin with his one good eye, and of course the Valkyries and their winged horses. This was a world of excitement and discovery, first explored through textbooks and later through comic books and eventually film.
What I appreciate about Marvel productions is the way these characters are situated within a new incarnation so that their original attributes are included (although the Valkyrie's horse appears only in the superimposed cartoon images in the opening credits), but they are updated in terms of time and space with modern dialogue and settings. Plus, of course, the magic of CGI and other modern technologies! It is very easy to lose your own sense of reality as you are swept into the fantasy worlds of the Avengers.
The characters that stood out for me were Odin (Anthony Hopkins, flawless as usual) and Grandmaster (a high camp performance by Jeff Goldblum). I also enjoyed Taika Waititi's humour in the Korg voiceover and Cate Blanchett's superbly evil Hela. I liked the seamless integration of Norse characters and the invention of others (like Hela), and the addition of other Marvel heroes like Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberpatch). The remaining lead actors (Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban) all deliver accomplished performances, managing to portray five very different characters to ensure the audience is always engaged.
Sets are nothing short of magnificent, ranging from Asgard to contemporary times, and including trips to other planets and highly stylised settings. It is impossible to watch this film and not completely lose awareness of time and place; both are fluid as the real flows seamlessly into the imaginary. The special effects involve lots of amazing lighting displays and CGI creatures; it is clear that technology has made spectacular advances sine the first Marvel films were made.
There was plenty of humour in this movie; at times I thought I was watching an animated cartoon as characters constantly received serious injuries and then immediately bounced back, peeling themselves off the ground like a flattened Roadrunner and puffing themselves up to full size again. The first encounter between Hulk and Thor showed Thor being "killed" several times over then immediately coming back to life to counter the attack. Even in mid fight they were able to joke about it. Pithy one-liners were common, even in the most serious episodes, a technique which was not used to this extent in earlier Marvel movies.
If you had not seen any other movies featuring the same characters, it did not really matter as this one is self-contained. However, if you were familiar with others from the same series, it was fun to spot the Easter eggs. I thought it was hilarious when the password to starting the Quinjet is revealed as an expression used in an earlier movie. There is also a reference (by Korg) to the three vampires which harks back to another Taika Waititi film altogether ("What We Do In The Shadows") - you had to have seen that movie to spot that one! And there are many references to other events and characters (notably Tony Stark) from earlier Marvel comics and movies. I watched this movie with friends who are also Marvel fans from way back so we had enormous fun competing with one another to spot the next reference.
Ragnarok is, of course, the last battle - the culmination of existence or a particular way of life, or a day of judgement. This is certainly not to say that this will be the last in the series. Rather, the ending hints of new beginnings. However, to say more would be to include a spoiler, so I will leave it there. I am left wondering if the next in the series will include Sherlock Holmes? This is because, near the start of the movie, there is a reference to an address - 177A Bleecker Street. If you enter 177 on a calculator and then turn it upside down, you end up with 221. If you then change the spelling of the street name to Baker and the A to a B, you have the home address of Sherlock Holmes (221B Baker Street). Is this an Easter egg for next time? Or a reference back in time to the role of Sherlock (in the TV series of the same name) as played by Benedict Cumberpatch, who also plays Dr Strange in this movie? Time will tell!
The reason Marvel Movies are so entertaining (besides Stan Lees cameos) are because of the relationships and how the characters all seem to be appearing in each others movies. I love how someone totally unexpected like Hulk or Doctor Strange or even the discussion of Tony Stark and his tight pants just appear so naturally and it actually makes me feel quite giddy. I love how the characters have evolved and how the Marvel world just seems to be expanding. The other reason I love Marvel Movies is because of the humor and how witty they can be and how the characters don't take themselves seriously all the time. How one minute they can be in a life and death situation and next minute they are cracking jokes or just hanging by their ankles telling the bad guy to hang on as they spin around again. How they are so arrogant but can be so vulnerable at the same time.
As usual I did find there were a few pacing issues especially as they were leading up to a big fight but I still found I was entertained enough that I was left wanting more. The credits left us with a few clips of things to come but I did not find them as revealing as past ones have been and I was left unsure of what could possibly occur in the future.
I do not know how I feel with Thor loosing his hair. I like clean cut guys don't get me wrong but for some reason after Stan Lee cut him I was left looking at an Australian with short hair and I feel he lost his 'superhero' image. Actually the whole movie was pretty much spot the Australian or the Kiwi and I have to point out that a Kiwi definitely stole the movie. The rock fighting machine with the cuzzie-bro voice cracked me up every single time. It really is so cool hearing the New Zealand accent in a block buster movie. I hope that Korg/Taika Waititi shows up in future movies.
The movie also left me wandering out of all of the Avengers who the strongest is. Originally I had Hulk pretty high on the list but he has dropped considerably after this movie and of all people Doctor Strange has jumped up a few points. Either way I hope more Marvel Movies are made because lets face it they are way more entertaining than the DC world. Definitely worth a watch as Loki is always so entertaining and its always neat to see what the bad guy or in this case bad girl/sister will get up to next and you can not forget the special effects these movies have as they are usually light years ahead of their time.
I enjoy watching Marvel films as they're often lighthearted, action-packed and easy viewing! The previous two standalone Thor movies have fitted well in the Marvel franchise so I was excited to see what Taika Waititi would bring to the film. Waititi is well known for the dark humour in his hits 'The Hunt for the Wilderpeople' and 'What We Do in the Shadows' so I was interested to see how his influence would transfer to Thor Ragnarok.
It is pretty evident early on that this is not going to be your standard, run of the mill, Marvel film. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston slip back comfortably into Thor and his meddling brother Loki. Tom Hiddleston does a fantastic job of making Loki malicious and meddlesome and Hemsworth appears to have developed comedic timing with some funny and well-placed one-liners. You can also see that his character has matured and it is a relief to see that he (finally) is not scared to stand up to Loki and deal with him! Waititi himself makes a cameo appearance as a warrior made of stone and certainly steals the scene he is in with his unique Kiwi humour. Thor Ragnarok features a stellar cast with Jeff Goldblum making a fabulous and extravagant Grandmaster. Cate Blanchett is perfectly cast as the ruthless death Goddess Hela, even though I thought Hela's character development was lacking in some areas. Newcomer Tessa Thompson shines as the conflicted, swaggering Valkyrie who is as physical as the boys and comes across as a real and likeable character. A beautiful memory scene also helps to give Thompson's character a lot more depth.
At 130 minutes, Thor Ragnarok is a long film but the pace doesn't drop and the story-line is cohesive and easy to follow. There are a lot of jokes and gags throughout the film and quite a few are risque which is why the film has an M rating. I personally believe that Waititi has produced an action-packed, lightning fast film that is extremely entertaining to watch. It does veer slightly away from the 'bog standard' Marvel superhero movie but in a grand and humorous way. The music score is spot on and the use of Led Zeppelin's song "Immigrant Song" is brilliant to keep the pace moving along.
Die-hard Marvel fans may baulk at the change of direction Thor Ragnarok has taken, but I believe it has brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise. If you enjoyed the Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool movies then you won't want to miss this!
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