Thor: Ragnarok review in a nutshell
A slapstick action comedy made by children pretending to be adults. ?
Movie synopsis (with spoilers)
Before I begin my review of Thor: Ragnarok, let me give you a refresher on the events that led up to it and a brief synopsis. You probably already know it’s the third movie in the Thor series, but if like me, you forgot that Avengers: Age of Ultron was the last movie we saw Thor and Hulk in (besides Thor’s brief cameo in the end-tag of Doctor Strange), the below recap will be useful to you.
After the events of Age of Ultron, which came out a whole two and a half years ago — ages in the MCU, since five other movies have come out in the interim — Thor leaves Earth to look for who’s responsible for causing the Infinity Stones to gather at an alarming rate. He doesn’t find anything, so he decides to go around the universe ridding all threats to Asgard. One of these threats is the prophecy that the end of the world (Ragnarok) will come because of some monster called Surtur.
After defeating Surtur, Thor goes home to Asgard and finds Loki reigning in the stead of Odin, and Odin gone. The both of them go to Earth and track down Odin, with the help of Doctor Strange, and find Odin who is dying. He tells them of their heretofore unknown sister Hela, the Goddess of Death, who has an unquenchable thirst for power and will be let loose after he dies. Hela defeats Thor and Loki in a fight — destroying Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir in the process — and takes over Asgard in a massacre. Thor ends up on Sakaar, a prison planet ruled by a charming Jeff Goldblum-ish psychopath called the Grandmaster who likes to pit prisoners he’s captured in a gladiatorial fight to the death against his unbeatable champion.
Guess who that champion is? Hulk! Who was last seen on the Quinjet after the Avengers saved Sokovia, heading off to unknown parts and untrackable due to the stealth tech on the Quinjet. Somehow, the Quinjet brought him into space and crash-landed on Sakaar, causing him to be stranded there for the past two years. Thor has to fight Hulk to regain his freedom, while trying to save Asgard from Hela’s destruction. Along the way, he meets Valkyrie (a badass and hard-drinking Tessa Thompson), who captures him and brings him to the Grandmaster. She turns out to be a former Asgardian who had a traumatic encounter with Hela (hence the drinking problems). Loki ends up on Sakaar too, though he escaped being a prisoner and somehow gained the Grandmaster’s trust.
Thor: Ragnarok movie review
In the pantheon of Marvel movies thus far, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the oddest and quirkiest. Certainly the cutest, and when I say cute, I mean they behave like children. (By the way, this is something I only say because it’s a movie, and a nonsensical fun one at that. I’m NOT amused by grown adults who behave like this in the real world *cough* a certain President *cough*.)
Thor is occasionally a giant manchild in this film, bickering with Loki, Hulk, and even Bruce as though they were in kindergarten: “You’re a bad friend! Nobody likes you! They call you the Stupid Avenger!” (Not such a far cry from the spoilt teenager that he was in the first Thor movie, but he doesn’t behave like an entitled brat this time, so there has been character growth.)
I also love how Thor was trying to get the Quinjet to recognise him as the “Strongest Avenger”, but it only recognises him when he says “Point Break” — Tony’s nickname for him in the first Avengers movie. And then when Bruce logs in as “Banner”, the Quinjet recognises him as “Strongest Avenger” immediately, which Thor is clearly offended at. ? What a brilliant way of including Tony in the movie without actually putting Robert Downey Jr. in it! (Plus they had Bruce dress up in a convenient suit of clothes that Tony left behind in the Quinjet, and then complain that Tony wears his suits a bit tight in the crotch. ?)
Even Loki was so childish! I can’t believe they poked so much fun at his narcissistic tendency that they had him stage a play of his “heroic death” in Thor: The Dark World while disguised as Odin! It was very weird to see revered actor Anthony Hopkins act so silly. I wonder what he thought of it. (By the way, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth — Chris Hemsworth’s brother — had cameos as the actors of Odin and Thor in the play. I had to go back to rewatch that part cause I didn’t notice them the first time round. And I just found out MATT DAMON was Loki in the play! No wonder he looked so familiar, though I couldn’t recognise him under all the makeup.)
Loki bellowing “YOUR SAVIOUR IS HERE!” while spreading his arms wide with his cloak billowing dramatically behind him was hilarious too. He always had the flair for dramatics, and a love of being bowed down to, if you recall from Thor and The Avengers.
And there’s so much slapstick! We’ve seen bits of it in the other MCU movies, but this movie probably has the most. Whether it was Valkyrie’s “cool” entrance which ended with her falling off her ship drunkenly, or Thor gently approaching Hulk with Natasha’s catchphrase “The sun’s getting real low”, hoping to calm him down and return him to his human form, only for Hulk to suddenly grab him and smash him around like a ragdoll — the same thing Hulk did to Loki in The Avengers — and Loki exclaiming “YES! THAT’S HOW IT FEELS LIKE!”, or Loki visibly having PTSD to Hulk’s presence, or Thor hitting a ball against a window and it ricocheting and smacking him in the face, or Doctor Strange constantly changing his surroundings in an instant and Thor looking discombobulated, or Loki yelling angrily “I’ve been falling… for 30 MINUTES!” when Doctor Strange causes him to reappear etc., this movie was just a Laurel and Hardy comedy.
(Fun fact: this is the second time Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) have been in a movie together. They previously worked together in War Horse.)
This movie makes me want to watch director Taika Waititi’s other movies, if this is what his aesthetic and sense of humour is like. (He was Korg in the movie if you didn’t know — the guy made of rocks and who didn’t print enough pamphlets for his revolution. ?) Especially Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which I heard great things about when it came out last year. The trailer looks so eccentric! I’ve seen him being compared to Wes Anderson on Tumblr, and I couldn’t agree more.
Not everything in Thor: Ragnarok is jokes and roses though. Hela, played by the deliciously ruthless and miraculously unaging Cate Blanchett, massacres all the soldiers of Asgard, including Thor’s faithful friends Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Zachary Levi) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). (Sif has disappeared from the narrative.) Poor Ray Stevenson and Zachary Levi barely got two seconds of screentime, while Hogun managed to get a heroic but gruesome last stand. She then coerces Skurge (fellow LOTR actor Karl Urban!) to do her bidding. From the moment Skurge introduced his guns as “Des” and “Troy”, I was rooting for him to be a good guy, even though I knew from the trailers that he would become Hela’s lackey. I wish he had more heroic things to do, and more screentime with Thor and Loki. His character was under-served, and I hate that he had to become Hela’s executioner to save his life. At least he felt guilty about it, but that made me even more upset for him. Because there’s only one way such characters end: in death.
I’ll also miss Thor having Mjolnir. ? It was like his special, beloved pet that came when it was called, and only allowed him to lift it (until Endgame came along and Cap proved himself worthy). But Odin’s line “Are you Thor, the god of hammers?” made me laugh!
(Update: There’s no need to miss Mjolnir after all, since he acquires Stormbreaker in Infinity War.)
Want another good laugh? Here’s the “unofficial” explanation of why Thor and Hulk weren’t in Captain America: Civil War. ?
Where to watch Thor: Ragnarok
Streaming services: Thor: Ragnarok is on Disney+ only, and not Netflix Singapore or US, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.