By Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)
Ragnarok, the third in the solo Thor movies, is by far the best. With What We Do in the Shadows actor and director Taika Waititi at the helm, the movie benefits from having an experienced funny man in charge of things, as aside from being good (thoroughly quite excellent) it is fun. It is the only adjective that comes to mind; the movie is funny, smart and uses the actors to fantastic lengths.
To say the previous Thor films have come short is putting it lightly: the first one was kind of nondescript, feeling really small scale and The Dark World felt too overtly serious a solo romp for a character that is the real comic relief in the Avengers movies. Thankfully, Ragnarok gives the viewer no fear that there will be much in the way of Schindler’s List level seriousness.
The tone of the movie is absolutely perfect throughout, adjusting just enough to fit, while keeping a comfortable goofiness. In this sense, the set design is really just perfect, especially in some of the more exotic locations. It really harks back to the whole 80’s marvel celestials stuff, mad bright colours and random circuits drawn on things, makes the movie just so pretty that you’d be hard-pressed to take your eyes off it.
Story-wise, Ragnarok isn’t anything super unique or that deep but without the pressure of being final or important (i.e Avengers), it definitely had a more, setting up vibe, like a comic book getting ready to go into a big series wide event; which on the way to Infinity War’s release is really refreshing.
One thing that ought to be commended for the movie is the actors: Chris Hemsworth absolutely nails the boisterous thunder god and seems really relaxed in the role, just having fun with it. It did feel at points uncomfortable to be seeing Loki on screen again, but Tom Hiddleston’s performance as the trickster god really makes you forgot misgivings as he and his onscreen brother bounce off one another so well.
As always, Jeff Goldblum is absolutely fantastic as the eccentric Grandmaster, bringing a kind of Ralph Fiennes M. Gustave panache to the roll. It would have been nice however to see more development with Cate Blanchett’s Hela as sadly, she just comes across as a nondescript big bad.
Being a superhero movie, the action scenes are fantastic, off the cuff, using CGI very well, and while it may not be photorealistic, it does lend to the very comic book style the movie seems to have, and moves away from something that has plagued the bigger Marvel movies – a problem of being too serious at times, and giving the fight scenes interesting venues.
Finally, while the move is nothing new, the sheer sense of fun at play here definitely makes it one of the better Marvel movies. With the main cast bouncing off of one another so well, it is just sad this sort of thing couldn’t have been carved out for the Norse hero sooner. Hopefully, after the unprecedented success of the more comedic ventures like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ragnarok, this fun practice becomes more of the norm from the folk at Marvel.