★★★★ A wild and eccentric comedy that just so happens to take place in the MCU, Thor Ragnarok is tremendous fun and a mighty fine trilogy closer.
It’s not a secret that Marvel movies tend to follow a tried and tested formula, sure it worked, but after we’ve seen our sixth blue light beam of doom and a throwaway army for the heroes to fight, that formula was starting to get tired. Even something outlandish and fun as Guardians of the Galaxy still stuck to the template. Well, that template has been largely thrown out as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi has delivered the most entertainingly insane Marvel movie to date.
I’ll keep plot details to only what’s been in the trailers. Actually, I’ll go one better and reveal even less info than the trailers. After being freed from her mystic prison, Death goddess Hela (Cate Blanchett) sets her sights on Asgard’s throne and dispenses Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to the planet Sakaar where he is forced to fight reigning champion Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in the fighting pits. Sakaar and those very fighting pits are overseen by The Grandmaster (the most Goldblumy of Goldblum performances), and unsurprisingly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has ferreted his way into a position of favour with the eccentric Grandmaster. Thor assembles a team of misfits (dubbed the Revengers) to take on Hela and prevent the firey Ragnarok. Simples.
Our Space dwelling band of A-holes aside, the MCU has a habit of foreshadowing and setting up future movies. While this is a given with all franchises, Age of Ultron was saddled with being a sequel to Avengers, three other solo franchises, introduce a wealth of new characters and somehow be amazing. It’s no wonder Joss Whedon needed a freaking break. Ragnarok was haphazardly foreshadowed in Ultron with Thor having an unexplained mystical bath in a cave and had visions of Asgard’s destruction. We now know that Whedon was told by the powers that be (Marvel) that to keep the desired running time, he had to cut the majority of Thor’s subplot or all the scenes on Hawkeye’s farm. If I had to choose between the two, I would have hacked those farm scenes out faster that Hawkeye can fire an arrow. I say that not because those scenes were bad, but in the wider MCU (and Thor has his own franchise) furthering Thor’s arc would have been a smarter move.
I’m getting sidetracked.
Ragnarok is all the better for being allowed to be its own thing, there are easter eggs and a few cameos, but much like Black Panther, it’s a mostly standalone movie. For all the shenanigans and jests, the handful of more emotional scenes fall flat as much like the childlike Hulk, this movie doesn’t have the capacity (or indeed time) to give these scenes the depth you might expect. A handful of grumbles aside, Thor Ragnarok is a joyful experience and a stark reminder that the MCU can still offer surprises after ten years.
Thor Ragnarok is out now on Blu-ray/DVD and HD Digital.