The Essence of the Comics: Our Review of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - November 03, 2017
The Essence of the Comics: Our Review of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

It’s kind of nice that someone remembered to make these things fun again…

While as an installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t exactly do a whole hell of a lot to move the big scale narrative along, it is one hell of a fun lark as director Taika Waitti brings a sense of over the top whimsy and entertainment back to these stories.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok; the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett) who has more of a claim to the Asgardian throne then he had ever imagined. But both he and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are flung clear across the universe to the planet of Sakaar; which is surrounded by wormholes that could take then anywhere across the known galaxy but first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger; the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)!

In what ends up being somewhat of an ironic move, the franchise makes a quantum leap forward by focusing on the deadpan humor that is inherent in the characters and it’s filled with the brash energy of the Guardians of the Galaxy series.  Thor: Ragnarok finally allows an Avenger not named Iron Man/Tony Stark to enjoy being a superhero.

The writing team of Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are well steeped Marvel lore and it comes across very well making for something that not only captures the vibrancy of the comic books but the entertainment factor in it all as well.  This particular story doesn’t do a whole lot to advance the grander series of movies but sometimes that’s OK as the focus on straight up action and dead pan comedy instead of doom, gloom and world crushing destruction is actually a nice change of pace which is what made something like Spider-Man: Homecoming such a refreshing change of pace this past summer.

Combine this with a director like Taika Waitti at the helm who has developed quite a name for himself over the past few years with his comedically irreverent but emotionally engaging films like Hunt For The Wilderpeople & Eagle vs. Shark then it is a recipe for success.  The story flows with incredible ease and he settles into a rhythm that is unparralled for a director jumping from indie feature to something with a nine figure budget and thanks to his confidence and ease which is infectious throughout his cast the Marvel Cinematic Universe has rarely been this much fun.

Chris Hemsworth finally gets the chance to lean into the comedic sensibilities of the character that he only ever really got to flash in previous outings.  He’s embracing the fact that it’s fun to play a superhero/god and that comes through and a very knowing and often hilarious performance that works throughout the story and still maintains a certain degree of gravitas when they have to save Asgard.  You’d never think that The Incredible Hulk would work as a straight man in a comedic duo but there’s a first time for everything as Mark Ruffalo lets us get into the human side of the big green monster as their back and forth banter when they aren’t trying to kill each other is bordering on classic while as Bruce Banner he jumps into the spirit of being a larger than life superhero even when he is just normal sized. 

Cate Blanchett chews up the screen as Hela and leans into the material with genuine fervor making her a comic book villain to be remembered.  Tessa Thompson joins the fun as an outcast member of the mythic Valkrie and we get some fun appearances from Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Hopkins and Karl Urban to name a few but the film’s lynch pin is the Thor/Hulk/Banner dynamic and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Easily one of the better efforts in the MCU, Thor: Ragnarok takes us back to the essence of why so many people enjoy comic books in the first place.  It’s a fun lark of a story that we can all get lost in for a couple of hours and not take all that seriously.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.