Thor Ragnarok. (2017)
Set two years after Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is captured by Surtur who prophesies the end of Asgard due to Ragnarok. With the passing of Oden (Anthony Hopkins), it allows Hela (Cate Blanchett) to emerge from a prison to dominate their home world. Thor is forced out of Asgard and crash lands on Sakaar; a garbage planet ruled by tyrant Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Grandmaster forces Thor to participate in the Contest of Champions, a gladiatorial fight to the death. There Thor meets Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) which strikes the idea to put together his own team to defeat Hela and save Asgardian civilisation.
Review by Claire
Thor has arguably had the weakest stand-alone films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and - well - Hulk has infamously had two awful film adaptations in the past. Therefore it is propitious that the best characterisations of these characters come from their buddy relationship in Thor Ragnarok.
For Ragnarok is not only the best film in the Thor franchise, but also one of the best Marvel films period. This film (unlike the previous two Shakespearean themed ones) is first and foremost a comedy. And while all Marvel films have comedic moments, Ragnarok is relentless with its laughs per minute.
This is credited to director Taika Waititi, who has breathed new life in to the franchise with his eccentric charm and humour. Even though he didn't write the script I still believe he had input in to some of the more subtle and dry jokes. I'm thrilled that Marvel allowed Waititi creative control of the film (maybe finally learning from the mistake of hindering Edgar Wright's directorial voice in Ant Man (2015).)
Chris Hemsworth also gets to show off his comedic chops as the titular thunder God. Overly masculine juxtaposed with a sharp tongue and goofy smile, Hemsworth shines as the adorable hunk. Hulk is also at his best with Mark Ruffalo performing as both the tantrum toddler / angry jock green big guy, and as the nervous and bumbling Bruce Banner. Ruffalo and Hemsworth chemistry is undeniable.
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster is as 'Goldblum-y' as always, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) continues to be fun and mischievous, especially when acting across Thor. Newcomer Tessa Thompson is impressive as alcoholic Valkyrie; an ex-soldier of Asgard.
Taika Waititi puts on the motion capture suit and also appears in the film as rock gladiator Korg, who is destined to be a fan favourite. Waititi admitted he based his performance on Kiwi bouncers, which has made me want to travel to and experience New Zealand all the more.
In all, there are no bad performances in Ragnarok. So while Cate Blanchett's villainous Hela is the weakest part (you'd expect more from the God of death,) lacklustre villains have been a problem with a lot of superhero films for a while now. Nevertheless, Blanchett is obviously having fun in her portrayal, so her lack of a character arch is easy to overlook.
Fun is what this film is at its core. The colour gradient, the humour and the energy is at full saturation. Ragnarok is self aware and doesn't take itself seriously. Some people have been complaining that with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) also being heavily comedic, that Marvel is opting for lightheartedness over dark and dramatic.
Firstly, I think there's nothing wrong with bringing campiness to films when they're about men with magical abilities in tight outfits - guys it's always been camp! Secondly, if you want bleak stories, read a newspaper. With Black Panther and Infinity War just around the corner for 2018, both seemingly more gritty, Ragnarok is a welcomed joyful experience.
With strikingly stunning scenes (with one particular shot resembling a religious painting), a plethora of likeable characters and non-stop humour, Thor Ragnarok is definitely worth the praise it's receiving. As a fan of his work I'll always want Taika Waititi to continue to write, direct and star in small independent films, however, I'm pleased to see him become more recognisable in the world. After you watch Thor Ragnarok, do yourself a favour check out Waititi's previous work. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is one of my all time favourite films.
Cast and Credits.
Director: Taika Waititi. Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures.
Producer: Kevin Feige.
Writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost.
Camera: Javier Aguirresarobe.
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh.
Sets: Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent.
Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House.