To be honest, I was rather apprehensive about watching this film. Having closely followed every new update, interview, trailer, movie clip and other developments in the Marvel franchise for the past four years (ever since Thor: The Dark World) came out, I was doubtful whether the actual 130 minute movie in the Thor trilogy, would have anything new to offer. I mean I already knew way too many spoilers thanks to Twitter and Tumblr, like Hela’s identity (she’s Thor’s sister), Loki disguised as Odin staging a play about Loki’s fake death, and so on, so would the movie actually surprise me at all?
Short answer: It did.
Short review: It’s fun, glitzy and immensely enjoyable, built completely on the lines of The Guardians Of The Galaxy and Taika Waititi has certainly nailed it. He’s probably delivered Marvel’s greatest commercial and critical hit but at the cost of something crucial: he changed every goddamn thing about Thor. I suppose its good news for most Marvel fans out there, but for me, a diehard faithful member of Loki’s army, I’m not so sure.
Okay, let’s deal with the basics. There is absolutely no plot (or if there is, there’s no logic to it) but that’s not an issue, because the movie is so crowded with every kind of humour, you don’t notice it. After battling Surtur, the fire demon, Thor returns to Asgard to realize Loki has been impersonating Odin, and then the duo leave for earth to search for the missing All-father and bump into Doctor Strange on the way. Odin finally appears and dies (or disappears by bursting into a shower of red gold sparks and much later somehow communicates with Thor from the afterlife) before telling them that his first-born bloodthirsty daughter Hela, who he had kept locked up (in the manner of his usual bad parenting) has now broken free and will bring about Ragnarok (the Norse doomsday prophecy). Meanwhile Thor and Loki are stranded on the junk planet of Sarkaar, where they encounter the whimsical Grandmaster, the feisty Valkyrie and a talking Hulk, after which the narrative follows the straightforward and predictable plan of action: save the people of Asgard (who by the way are very small in number and fit comfortably inside a jet which begs the question: what sort of birth control pills do these Asgardian folks use?)
I suppose most superhero films have a rather predictable second-half owing to studio constraints and given that much of the fun in Thor: Ragnarok seems a replication of what James Gunn did in GOTG, it is a surprise that the movie, in fact, does so well.
As I said earlier, Waititi has changed everything. Thor’s no longer the out-of-place, ferocious, smash-everything-with-my-magic-hammer Avenger. Pretty early on, he loses Mjonlir and his golden hair (courtesy Stan Lee) and develops a remarkable sense of humour and optimism. If you’ve seen Hemsworth’s brand of comedy in Ghostbusters, you’ll know what I am talking about. The Thor of Thor:Ragnarok is charismatic, intelligent, funny and delightfully different, so different that it’s almost impossible to recognize that he was once a tantrum-throwing spoilt brat who rushed to fight the Frost Giants without even thinking about what he was doing.
If Thor got some accelerated character development, it turns out that Cate Blanchett as Hela is your typical stock villainess with an eccentric headgear and a stereotypical bloodlust. (Surely, they did not try modelling this on Suicide Squad’s Enchantress? ) And Thor who has spent over 3 movies trying to redeem Loki, doesn’t seem to register the fact that he’s battling his own sister. No, Hela is just another evil threat to be neutralized and better looking than Malekith. The script which allows Hemsworth to do a lot of things doesn’t seem to allow Blanchett that. She’s sexy, gothic and forgettable.
I feel what Jared Leto was to Suicide Squad, Jeff Goldblum is to Thor: Ragnarok. The Grandmaster is a delight to watch, utterly odd and insane and goofy. In fact, following the escape of Thor and Hulk, he had the potential to pretty much turn into a formidable villain, but well the script only gives him the last post-credits scene.
Meanwhile, it appears that the Hulk has way more personality than Banner who’se only allowed to be a shocked Banner in Tony’s clothes for a really short while, and while Tessa Thompson as the Valkyrie is glorious, I felt her character arc was too superficial. Her entry is reminiscent of Jessica Jones but I was never a fan of the ‘women drinking and looking/feeling all powerful’ trope, and I felt there were plenty of other ways to give her character a space to grow, but no, it’s only that she hates Thor and is guilt-tripped into saving Asgard and that’s it. But I loved that little knife fight between Loki and her (we need fanfiction on this) and being a woman of color myself, I am ecstatic at the way Tessa owns her role. However, I do miss Jane Foster, who is written off in just two lines, and after all, it’s not every day you get to see a nerdy woman astrophysicist fall for an alien.
Right, I’ve been saving Loki for the last. Honestly, after watching it, my first reaction was, ‘WTF’s wrong with him?’. It felt that the script made him do everything at once. Also, he’s kinda stupid here (similar to what happens to Tyrion Lannister in season 7 of Game Of Thrones). He’s the butt of most jokes and his mischief is now predictable. The Loki who made Thor, Avengers and Thor: The Dark World so successful is gone, and instead we have someone who is playful but not really malicious. Also, his only interaction with Doctor Strange felt too rushed and while he no longer owns every scene he’s in,he’s still there, beautiful as ever. I don’t know what Hiddleston’s reaction when he read his lines was, but it looks like he did the best he could here.
Moreover, given that Marvel’s Thor is markedly different from the myths, it is interesting to note that Loki does play an important role here. Whether it’s by deposing Odin to earth or finally placing Surtur’s crown in the Eternal Flame, he does bring about Ragnarok, like in the myths. Also we never find out, how exactly Loki faked his death in Thor 2 (yeah, I mean we know it was an illusion, but the details would be good. Like, he really intended on killing Kurse right, to avenge his mom? If yes, did he really get stabbed?) And finally, it can be assumed Loki makes off with the Tesseract. I wonder if the Infinity War film will have a Thanos-Loki one on one conversation?
Apart from that, Thor 3 has some stellar effects with sleek and snazzy credits, standard action sequences and a great background score. Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Immigrant Song’ fits perfectly here. Also, Waititi as a nice rock man churning out one-liners is a sheer gem. Which brings me back to my central point: Thor 3 is one fucked up mess of a film. But you don’t notice it because you’re laughing so hard all the damn time. Yes, watch the film the same way you watched GOTG- with an open mind and do not initially attach yourself to any of the characters. (I can’t follow this advice, because well… Loki)
It’s a hilarious LOL watch, but I still think Marvel should keep paying Hiddleston his paycheck.
Rating: 4/5 (I was going to give it a 3.5, but I realized I badly want to watch the film again, and I’m actually considering printing out some of the funniest quotes. Besides Loki in leather is magic.)
God I watched it last night, and I’m not thinking clearly, so I’m sorry if it all came out as a jumble. But do tell me what you think of the film. Can’t wait to discuss it!
Image Credit: Marvel