WHAT’S THOR: RAGNAROK ABOUT?
The God of Thunder is back on the big screen in his third solo outing, but he’s definitely not alone. Joining him on his latest adventure are his mischievous brother, Loki, the beautiful but formidable Valkyrie, and the big green guy himself, the Incredible Hulk. Thor faces his greatest challenge yet as he squares off against a new foe with superior power, Hela (MCU newcomer, Cate Blanchett).
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A-)
Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th entry in the now decade-old Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the fifth film of the “Phase 3” period. The picture sees our hero (Chris Hemsworth) at his most vulnerable and most hilarious, as he races back to his home of Asgard in an attempt to rescue from it from the prophesied cataclysmic event, Ragnarok, and from the tyrannical rule of new baddie Hela. Along the way he must reconcile his feud with his mischievous brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston’s best performance in the role to date), is forced to participate in the gladiatorial arena against his Avenger teammate, the Hulk, and also convince a fellow Asgardian to join him in his crusade (a strong Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie).
One of my biggest gripes about Thor: The Dark World was the humorous and light-hearted tone that just did not really seem to mesh with that picture, but the amped-up humor works really well here. The credit for that goes to the director, Taika Waititi. The New Zealand native has a knack for directing comedy (I highly encourage you to see Hunt for the Wilderpeople), and also getting his performers to deliver solid laughs.
Chris Hemsworth’s comedic delivery and timing was spot on the entire 130 minutes. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki delivers solid laughs as well. The dynamic conflicting relationship between Thor and Loki is what I love most about the solo Thor films, but it doesn’t always have to be approached in a Shakespearean manner. Brothers tend to clash, and sometimes those conflicts are quite humorous.
Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is back as well, and his two-year absence will be explored. For those thinking Hulk’s role is more of a cameo, think again. The Hulk is on screen quite a bit, and much service is done to the character as we get to see a more dynamic portrayal delivered. Cate Blanchett’s Hela is the MCU’s most powerful villain to date; the actress delivers big. It’s too bad she is not on screen enough, which is my chief complaint with the film. Marvel has always seemed to have a problem when it comes to villains and this movie is no exception. The supporting cast is rounded out by Tessa Thompson’s exiled Asgardian Valkyrie, Idris Elba reprising his role of Heimdall, Jeff Goldblum as the Willy Wonka-esque Grandmaster, and Karl Urban as Skurge. There is also a great cameo by another character, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Ragnarok is also a nice throwback to the sci-fi adventures produced during the 80s and contains impressive production values, as well as one of the best musical scores of the series. At the time of this writing, I have seen the film twice (it was released in South Korea, where I am currently, ahead of its U.S. release) and can easily recommend watching the film in IMAX (the image is specifically tailored for the format). If you happen to live in NYC or Los Angeles I recommend viewing in the 4DX format. Prepare to be blown away.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Thor: Ragnarok is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material. The most brutal violent moments on screen are when Hela is present. The exaggerated sound design only adds to the carnage she wreaks, especially with knives and swords. Thor delivers mostly with his hammer and fists, and the impact is definitely felt. Hulk continues to smash things and he does not handle with a light touch. People are shot with plasma type firearms, but the impact of the shots are not graphic in nature. Foul language is present but not used often, and the Hulk is nude on screen for about 10 seconds (we see his backside). PG-13 does not necessarily mean family affair, but at least you know what to expect when you show up.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Throughout each of Thor’s adventures, Thor and Loki are in constant conflict with each other but they are still brothers. It is easy to see they have a strong bond and do look out for one another when they need to, and have proven they can be their brother’s keeper. Their relationship recalls the Savior’s command to “be reconciled to thy brother” and make amends (see Matthew 5:24). No matter how hard we try or what actions we take, sometimes we can’t prevent things from happening, and certain events must come to pass.
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Justin Lozada is a financial systems instructor for the United States Air Force. He reviews Hollywood films at Letterboxd.