The inscription on the mighty hammer Mjolnir states: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” If you were Thor however, and someone breaks your hammer, what do you become? Viewers will get an early shock in Thor: Ragnarok when Hela (Cate Blanchett) heralds the Mjolnir’s destruction.
The Goddess of Death escapes from her prison, and she will make sure Asgard falls. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are Asgard’s only hope to avert Ragnarok, but how? To make things worse, our God of Thunder is out to face the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) at the whims of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and Loki is out for mischief. Marvel’s Infinity War looms over the horizon, and it’s not looking good for our heroes.
Regardless, Ragnarok remains a good take on the”reconstruction” of Hemsworth’s character and his pals. Inasmuch as the film is a crazy technicolor ride however, cracks start to appear over the move to make Thor “relate” to audiences in his fifth outing.
The result was an adventure akin to epics of ancient history – with lasers and space ships. But was Thor’s new adventure just right?
Watch the trailer below before reading our Thor: Ragnarok review in What’s-A-Geek!
Thor: Ragnarok, Beauty in the Alien
It’s difficult finding words to describe the spectacle that is Thor: Ragnarok. This is especially if you consider how ironic anything synonymous with “spectacular” will be when spoken with “Ragnarok” in the same sentence.
However, I’ll say it anyway – Thor: Ragnarok was as spectacular as its premise of destruction. This is everything short of whatever word we should use when describing the fine line between “weird enough” and a “perfect fit.”
The film takes a big 180 away from Alan Taylor’s rather darker Thor: The Dark World. Taika Waititi’s direction shifts away from the mystery beholding Asgard and turns our attention to how “alien” Marvel’s aliens are.
Waititi’s Hollywood debut follows recent trends of grabbing a Marvel IP and taking it for a spin. You can choose a word: striking, picturesque, eye-catching, breathtaking, and even glorious – and that’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Audiences finding Thor hard to relate to can make it hard to appreciate his films. Waititi tries to fix this with Ragnarok, as it spins the ideas of aliens and gods with dazzling technicolor. The result is an amalgamation of everything but normal that will stun even the most enthusiastic. To be plain, Ragnarok rocks.
Waititi’s creative direction does beg make you think: is relating to Thor really that important?
Mixed Visions, Mixed Reactions
Waititi’s new child is worth the wait and a sight to behold, and his artistic “mark” flows through the film. The Academy Award nominee and his eye for the “strange” does seem to befit this new “chapter” in Thor’s superhero career. Movie enthusiasts may have seen some of Waititi’s work prior to Ragnarok.
Critically-acclaimed features such as Two Cars, One Night, Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and even What We Do in the Shadows will have Thor: Ragnarok in its roster. Waititi presented us a Thor film that is essentially a comic book. It’s not that it was lifted or stolen, but it was a film you could mesh with the comics seamlessly. It’s as standalone a title as a Thor comics compilation.
Although it may not be as “acclaimed” as critics thought it would be. Waititi’s overlapping creative antics known to film enthusiasts felt overshadowed with the need for staple Marvel elements. A Marvel IP is still a Marvel IP, and Ragnarok had to possess that Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) signature. There are the flashy battles, “relatable” characters, the quirky dialogue, and the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. These “requirements” may have lead to lines in the sand.
For instance, Taylor’s departure after The Dark World is just a case among others where directors leave Marvel due to various issues. Speaking to Uproxx about Terminator: Genisys, Taylor tells Uproxx’s Mike Ryan how he didn’t want the “Marvel treatment” to happen to other directors.
“The Marvel experience was particularly wrenching because I was sort of given absolute freedom while we were shooting, and then in post it turned into a different movie,” he said.
Of course, this isn’t to say the “Marvel treatment” happened to Waititi as well. One would notice, however, that the “push” to “reinvigorate” Thor may have led to a film grandiose with the spectacle with a story that is “almost there.” Sometimes one can’t help but think “redefining” Thor and Pals in the MCU landscape may have taken a toll not only with Waititi’s vision, but on the presentation as a whole.
Is Destruction the Way to Go?
It’s not like portraying Thor is any easy, either. Looking at Marvel’s cosmology, Asgardians are more akin to super-powerful aliens than divine beings.
Proclaiming such a universal “responsibility” such as Godhood considering one’s mortality, is hard to comprehend. However, this is a dimension of Thor that the character always had. He is not just “some guy” who is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Thor is the “God” of Thunder, despite being a mortal (and incredibly-hard-to-kill) Asgardian. He’s supposed to be hard to relate to.
However, Thor’s “change” is something deliberate. Hemsworth wanted to make the change, given it’s already his fifth outing. He wanted to spice things up.
“So that’s was what this film was: cut his hair, break his hammer, change his clothes, change the world and I think that’s what you’re going to see — the excitement of something incredibly unique and different for not only the Thor world but the Marvel universe,” Hemsworth told James Law of News. However, was the shift necessary?
“We’re the same, you and I..” https://t.co/OG7CprpFAZ
#ThorRagnarok in theaters November 3
Thor has become a jock. The prideful heir to Asgard goes on full nitro and becomes more aggressive (but quirky!) with his quips. Hulk has more smash, for better or for worse. Meanwhile Tom Hiddleston as Loki was just… there. Blanchett gave one hell of an outstanding performance as the Hela, but audiences might find her severely underused.
Thor was built to be a “god.” He was to represent “something” of value. Hela and the question “What were you the god of, again?” was the centerpiece of the film. Unfortunately, time and resources may not have allowed production to fully convey this defining part of Thor’s personality. Instead, we got templates.
The result was a Thor epic. There was a “hero,” a “villain,” a “sidekick,” the “team.” Waititi’s technicolor modern retro bonanza helps stun audiences with a “redefinition” of what a science fantasy epic could look like. But Ragnarok only made us want to see what Waititi can help the science fantasy epic become.
A Wild (but almost there) Ride
Waititi achieved to provide audiences with something new, as Ragnarok truly is a Thor film of a different caliber. The characters had more pizzazz, and there was a theatrical splendor that the other films didn’t have. Thor is a god, and therefore everything else must be très magnifique. This is truly Ragnarok, and out from The Dark World came a fiery, much colorful Thor. You’d almost think it was Guardians of the Galaxy 3, or at least Thor (feat. Guardians of the Galaxy).
If anything, Ragnarok is Thor with a dash of Planet Hulk. Inasmuch as there are mishaps, the film in itself remains to be entertaining. It’s a refreshing direction for Thor, and it did help audiences to relate to him.
Hela destroys Thor’s Mjölnir https://t.co/T4QdKo70RI
The film tries to attack three problems at the same time. There was a need to change Thor, as in the franchise, to make it more appealing to audiences. Second was a need to change Thor, as in the character, to make him someone audiences can relate to. Coming on third was a need to herald the arrival of Thanos, a universal threat heralding the destruction of the universe. And an potential fourth: Waititi’s creative vision.
One cannot deny the thrill of having an epic adventure with Thor. It’s something the film evidently succeeds to portray. However, one would think the grandiose of Ragnarok could’ve helped make a psychedelic adventure come to life. Where Doctor Strange dazzled with the idea of magic, Thor could’ve blown our minds with its own brand of a crazy roller coaster ride only “Gods” can fully comprehend.
What we got instead was a ride that was a few spins short of its full potential, but a ride nonetheless. Here’s to hoping Waititi makes another Thor film, because boy was that a style that could be refined.