What do you get when Guardians of the Galaxy is the breakout hit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well you take some of your already established characters who could use a bit of a personality transplant and use the same style to make them actually interesting and fun. Thor: Ragnarok is the result of adding color and imagination to characters who really needed something more in order to sell tickets. Otherwise the movie is something that really didn’t need Thor in it at all till the third act.
Title: Thor: Ragnarok
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo & Anthony Hopkins
Based on: Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby
Release dates: November 3, 2017 (United States) / October 26, 2017 (Australia)
Running time: 130 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (United States) / M15+ (Australia)
Two years after the Battle of Sokovia (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is now imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur. Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök, once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns beneath the city. Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök.
Thor returns to Asgard to find his adopted brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with directions from Stephen Strange on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn daughter Hela to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after her ambitions became too great. Odin dies, and Hela appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her wolf Fenris; and appoints the downtrodden Asgardian Skurge as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens to form a resistance against Hela.
Thor crash-lands on the planet Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142, and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster, whom Loki has already become ingratiated with. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female fighters who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk. Thor almost defeats the Hulk, before the Grandmaster sabotages the fight to ensure the Hulk’s victory. Still enslaved, Thor attempts to convince Hulk and 142 to help him save Asgard, but neither is willing. He soon manages to escape the palace and finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows Thor to the Quinjet, where a recording of Natasha Romanoff makes the Hulk transform back into Bruce Banner for the first time since Sokovia.
The Grandmaster orders 142 and Loki to find Thor and Hulk, but the pair come to blows and Loki forces her to relive the deaths of her fellow Valkyrie at the hands of Hela; she decides to help Thor, taking Loki captive to prove her goodwill. Unwilling to be left behind, Loki provides the group with the means to steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships. They then liberate the other gladiators who, led by Korg and Miek, stage a revolution. Loki attempts to betray his brother to gain a reward from the Grandmaster, but Thor anticipates this and leaves him behind. Loki is soon found by Korg and the gladiators. Thor, Banner, and 142 escape through a wormhole to Asgard, where Hela’s forces are attacking Heimdall and Asgard’s citizens. Banner becomes the Hulk again, fighting Fenris, Skurge, and the resurrected warriors with 142 while Thor faces Hela. Loki and the gladiators arrive to help, and the citizens board their large ship; a repentant Skurge sacrifices himself to allow their escape. Thor loses an eye and then has a vision of Odin that helps him realize that only Ragnarök can stop Hela. While she is distracted, Loki locates Surtur’s crown and places it in the Eternal Flame. Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, seemingly killing Hela.
Thor and the others escape with Asgard’s remaining citizens aboard the Grandmaster’s vessel, and Thor is crowned king. He decides to take his people to Earth. In a mid-credits scene, they come across a large spaceship. In a post-credits scene, the Grandmaster encounters some of his subjects, who are still taking part in the revolution.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor:
The crown prince of Asgard based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, who has become a “lone gunslinger” searching for the Infinity Stones. Hemsworth is said to have become “a bit bored” with the character after portraying Thor four times previously, and wanted to take some risks and experiment: the character has shorter hair in the film, wears a different outfit, his hammer Mjolnir is destroyed, and he loses an eye. (Losing his eye is in continuity with Thor becoming the new All-Father later in life). All the risks taken with Thor thanks to Hemsworth pay off big time as Thor is more interesting and colorful than he has been in the previous two films.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki:
Thor’s adoptive brother and nemesis based on the deity of the same name. As the ruler of Asgard since the end of Thor: The Dark World, Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification. Not so much on good governance. He gets caught up in the war with Hela more because he was around, not because he has to defend his adopted home. Hiddleston puts in his usual great performance as Loki that he has done many times in the past.
Cate Blanchett as Hela:
Odin’s first born daughter and the goddess of death, based on the deity Hel, who is inadvertently released from her prison. She wages war against Asgard and as a by-product of that war, is at odds with Thor. Hela can create swords out of nowhere and use them with wild abandon, and since she is the goddess of Death, she usually hits the mark and kills her target. She reveals the hidden truth about Odin’s rise to power and the creation of the palace in Asgard. Blanchett is amazing in this role, the perfect choice for the villain role and looks to be enjoying every moment.
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie:
A tough, hard-drinking bounty hunter who works for the Grandmaster and goes by “Scrapper 142”. She was once a legendary warrior of the Valkyrior. Marvel wanted to pair Thor with a love interest more his equal than Jane Foster. She gets most of the character development time in the movie with her being the newest character added to the overall Marvel Universe. Thompson plays the role with class and a kick-ass demeanor befitting the character.
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk:
A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. He becomes a successful and popular gladiator on Sakaar. He is in “perma-Hulk mode”, having suppressed the Banner side for a few years, and forming the vocabulary “of a toddler”, with the level of Hulk’s speech being “a big thing” in the Marvel Universe since it was taking into account future appearances for the character. Ragnarok begins an arc for the character that continues in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel, stemming from discussions Ruffalo had with Feige. Ruffalo felt Hulk was “much more of a character than the green rage machine you’ve seen in the Avengers movies. He’s got a swagger.” Waititi provided additional motion capture for the Hulk after Ruffalo had completed his scenes.
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster:
One of the Elders of the Universe, who rules the planet Sakaar, and enjoys manipulating lesser life-forms. The Grandmaster is a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker, an enjoyer of life and tastes and smells. Goldblum was asked to make the character his own, and did so extremely well. Grandmaster is the brother of The Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy, and producer Kevin Feige expressed interest in seeing the two together in a future film.
The previous Thor films have been deep, dark and brooding more like the Batman films on the DC ilk. Thor: Ragnarok took all of the previous Thor style and threw it into the trash, replacing it with something that looks more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy… And it works! Thor Ragnarok is the most colorful and fun film outside the joke style Guardians films in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. Change is good in this case as just about everyone gets a fresh coat of paint that makes them all pop and makes every single character from the smaller side characters that are Hulk’s Warbound, to the bigger headline characters like Valkyrie, Thor and Hulk memorable. The action scenes are a huge highlight as the angles used in every fight are there to make every blow feel as epic as you would think a fight between beings on the god-level should be like. A huge highlight of the film is Grandmaster, who is Jeff Goldbulm at his best and weirdest, something I loved from beginning to end.
If there was anything that annoyed me with Thor: Ragnarok is that there are a couple of small issues I have with the story. The first one being that we deserved Planet Hulk, the story of Hulk’s arrival on Sakaar and his rise in the Gladiator arena. Anyone who knows that story will remember that Hulk ends up the ruler of the planet and THEN makes his way back to Earth, instead we got a story of Thor accidentally arriving on Sakaar and using Hulk to escape the planet to save his own. Speaking of Thor, outside of the changes in his look and character, he really isn’t needed for anything till the end of the film when he fights Hela. Thor feels like a bit player in his own movie, with all the character development going to newcomer Valkyrie and also the changed Hulk. Again, Thor wasn’t needed on Sakaar at all, with Hulk arriving with Valkyrie could have been held off till Avengers: Infinity War and instead getting Planet Hulk movie. Also, I’m already annoyed with the overuse of the main music track in battles. Wonder Woman used the same guitar track for almost every fight, Thor: Ragnarok does the same thing with Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Sure, it’s a cool song, but you get sick of it after hearing the same opening sting several times in a movie.
Thor: Ragnarok is a great change in story, look and characters that the Thor sub-series really needed to happen. The new style and looks have breathed new life into characters who were pretty much the most boring and underrated ones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After walking out of the theater I instantly wanted the Bluray edition for my home so I could watch this movie time and time again. Sure there are issues with the story that really made me want a proper Planet Hulk movie rather than a Thor movie, but I’m happy to see this anyway.
Thor of a new retro finish
Thor: Ragnarok shows that if what you've tried twice isn't working, then you change it. All the changes with the characters and visual style has breathed life into the worst part of the mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe (X-Men/Fantastic Four films still are the 100% worst, but that's FOX, not Marvel). Well worth a watch on the big screen and then again on Bluray or UHD/4K when it comes out in the home edition.