Movie: Thor Ragnarok
Rating: 4 Stars
The plot, such as it is, starts with Thor captured and learning that his homeland, Asgard, is foretold to be destroyed by Ragnarok. Seemingly, he thwarts this.
Discovering that Loki has exiled his father, Odin, to Earth and is impersonating him back on Asgard, Thor exposes Loki and forces him to return to Earth to rescue Odin. However, Odin understands that his time has reached the end and he dies.
His death frees his daughter, Hela, the Goddess of death. She proves stronger than both Thor and Loki, eventually overpowers them, casts them to their apparent death, and returns to take over Asgard, destroy its subjects, and lead an army to conquer other worlds.
Thor and Loki do not die but end up on what can only be described as a garbage planet, where Thor must figure out a way to get out, get back to Asgard, and reclaim it back from Hela.
There’s much more plot than that, but guess what? None of it really fucking matters. Unless you’re a hardcore canonical Marvel universe fan and connecting all of the dots is vitally important to you, really the plot exists only to show relationships between characters, have some famous actors chew some scenery, and ginormous special effects.
With that consideration, Ragnarok is a good film. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a likable enough superhero. I liked him better in the original Thor movie where he was much more brash and hubristic. As he’s maturing, he’s becoming the wise, benevolent god that is his destiny. That makes him less interesting, but he’s still fun to watch.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is still, as always, the trickster god of Nordic mythology. He can’t help his nature. Even though he truly, granted in his own way, loves Thor as a brother, he just can’t seem to abandon his mischievous ways. This, of course, makes him the more interesting brother and it does give a good counterpoint to the sometimes boring goodness that is Thor.
Speaking of famous actors chewing scenery, there is Cate Blanchett as Hela and Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. Goldblum especially as the smarmy leader / emcee of the garbage planet is clearly having fun and making full use of all of his lines. Tessa Thompson is also in the film as the last Valkyrie, who is a drunk bounty hunter on the garbage planet.
And we can’t forget The Hulk (and he is The Hulk in most of the movie). The Hulk is continuing to be almost a comic figure in the universe. Considering the previous failed attempts at more serious Jekyll / Hyde variations of this character, this is welcome.
So, a lot of characters here and the characters in this universe just keep growing. It’ll be interesting to see if at some point there is saturation point where the movie audience shouts enough.
At this point, they haven’t, and it’s still (again, within its bounds) an enjoyable movie. The relationships between Thor and Loki, Thor and Valkyrie, and Thor and The Hulk were all predictable but predictable in a well done, warm, and humorous manner.
I definitely enjoyed it more than the more serious movies in the Marvel universe (are you listening to me Captain America: Civil War?).
I’ve talked about this before (several times now), but I’ve resigned myself that there really isn’t much dramatic tension in the Marvel universe. No main character ever really dies. How do you even kill a god like Thor?
There was a hint of an environmental message in the movie. The garbage planet is truly just a dumping ground. Garbage is dumped there around the clock. Out of the ruins of this, a civilization of primitive values (gladiatorial in nature) has arisen. Do these other planets that deposit their garbage know that this planet even exists? Do they care? Is this any different than our society having services in place to pick up our garbage weekly and deposited who knows where?
I also appreciate the diversity in casting that Marvel is increasingly embracing. There are strong female characters. There are strong minority characters. There are strong female minority characters. And hey, the movie is still entertaining and fun to watch. Go figure!